Can physical therapy help arthritis pain?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Will physical therapy help with arthritis pain? My mom has osteoarthritis and has instructions from her doctor about exercising and what to eat, but could physical therapy help her with arthritis pain? Are there physical therapists who specialize in alleviating arthritis pain?

Expert Answer

Laura Cheney, a physical therapist who specializes in geriatrics, graduated with honors from the University of California at San Francisco in 2000. She loves her job working as the sole physical therapist at a premier life-care facility in San Francisco. She has written articles and lectured extensively on fall prevention and other issues relevant to the aging experience. As a registered yoga teacher, she teaches yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness techniques to seniors -- helping them expand their repertoire for coping with stress, pain, and illness in the later years.

Yes! Yes! Yes! There is a lot that physical therapists can do to help alleviate and prevent exacerbation of pain from arthritis. In fact, as a geriatric physical therapist, this is one of the most common diagnoses that we see. I would highly recommend that your mother seek the advice of a physical therapist who specializes in geriatrics. First, they can suggest a myriad of devices that can make life a lot easier for your mom. Depending on where she is effected by her arthritis--there are braces, modified eating utensils, writing utensils, pillows, kitchen utensils etc. that can allow her to continue her normal daily activities with minimal pain. They can prescribe and help progress exercises that are specific to her needs--and make sure she is doing them safely and correctly. And they can teach her how to modify a lot of her daily activities--such as how to get out of bed, or get up from a chair-- to help minimize the pain. Arthritis is damage that has already been done to the effected joint--the effect of wear and tear over time. This damage cannot be reversed but if you understand how to lessen the stress and strain on your joints you can lessen the pain and prolong the health and longevity of your joints! I hope your mom is able to find the help she needs. There is so much out there!