A Physical Therapist’s Perspective on Arthritis

Approximately 37 million Americans are affected by arthritis. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis involves the breakdown of cartilage, which covers and protects the bone within the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis involves inflammation in the lining of joints and possibly other internal organs.

Arthritis is a condition that causes pain, stiffness, and sometimes swelling around or in joints. These symptoms can make it hard to move and do daily tasks.
Arthritis can affect people of all ages. It usually last a long time; for many people , it may not go away. Arthritis pain is caused by inflammation, damage to joint tissues, muscle strain and or fatigue. The emotional ups and downs of arthritis can add to your pain.

Your mind play an important role in how you feel pain and how you respond to illness. Talk to your doctor, nurse, physical or occupational therapist about how you can make your life more healthy. Get involved in a favorite activity or hobby. Remind yourself of what you can do rather than what you can’t do.

Many different types of medicines can help control the pain and swelling of arthritis. Take your medicines exactly as your doctor instructs. Do not skip a dose or stop taking your medication unless your doctor recommends it. This can increase your pain to a large degree.

Those with arthritis can improve their health and fitness through exercise because exercise keeps joints moving, increases energy, improves sleep and helps keep bones and muscles strong. It can also help you effectively manage your pain. A physical therapist can recommend an exercise program for you.

Many different devices have been developed to make tasks easier and more efficient and reduce the stress on painful joints.
1. Cooking and clean up: Use can openers, mixers, blenders and the dishwasher. Use a wheeled cart to move heavy items.
2. Laundry and house cleaning: Sit to sort and iron clothes. Use a sponge mop with an easy squeezer. Use a long handled feather duster.
3. In the Bathroom: Put grab bars around the tub and toilet. Use a raised tile seat if you have trouble sitting or rising from the toilet.
4. In the Bedroom: Use a long handled shoehorn. Buy shoes that have Velcro or buy elastic shoe laces.
5. Leisure time activities: Use a card rack to help playing cards. Use a push button phone or a pen tip to dial.

Contact your local Arthritis foundation office about local support groups for people with arthritis or pain. Sharing your feelings and experiences with a group can make living with arthritis easier.

Helene Kaplan, licensed physical therapist has her own practice providing physical therapy at home to patients with limited mobility and transportation.
Miss Kaplan has been a practicing physical therapist for more than 25 years. She believes there is a real need for this community service since many patients are in too much pain or are physically too week to leave their homes. Some are unable to transfer in and out of a car or manage stairs. Others do not have transportation and cannot afford to pay for a taxi or do not with to bother friends or family. This service is also appropriate for those patients who enjoy the one on one close contact that a patient may not receive in a clinic environment.

Miss Kaplan accepts Medicare Assignment and private pay and can be reached at 516-538-6799.

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