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Physiotherapy for Osteoarthritis

By January 11, 2021September 3rd, 2021Physiotherapy

Arthritis is a very common condition that affects people of all ages.  It tends to get worse as we get older and is considered a normal part of aging, just like grey hair and wrinkles!  Arthritis can result in inflammation of the joints resulting in pain and stiffness in the joint and surrounding tissues. Factors that cause arthritis to develop vary from person to person and include genetics, previous injuries, disorders of the immune system, or a sedentary lifestyle. While there is no cure for arthritis, much can be done with medical management, self-management, and, of course, physiotherapy.

Different Types of Arthritis

There are a few types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Both involve joint pain, swelling, and stiffness but are different conditions.


Osteoarthritis (also known as OA) is a degenerative joint disease. It can affect any joint in the body but is common in the knees, hips, spine and hands. Patients may develop OA from genetic predisposition, aging, or after a traumatic joint injury.

This type of arthritis is typically diagnosed via:

  • Consideration of patient history
  • Behaviour of the pain
  • Clinical examination
  • Joint swelling and range of motion
  • X-ray imaging

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (also known as RA) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease. This type of arthritis affects the lining of joints (the synovium). It can occasionally affect some organs (such as eyes or lungs) as well. The onset of RA can vary from slow and gradual to sudden and severe. The joint pain may also be accompanied by fatigue or low-grade fever. This type of arthritis can affect the jaw, upper neck, shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles.

Physiotherapy and Diagnosis

Often, clients will visit a physiotherapist due to pain and/or stiffness in the spine, hip, knee, shoulder, etc., as a result of the arthritis. A physiotherapist is trained to determine the symptom onset and do a clinical examination of the area. The patient’s movements often give a physiotherapist a great deal of insight and can communicate the findings to the patient’s doctor if required. Blood work or x-ray imaging may be required to get a proper diagnosis and to dictate the next steps.

Physiotherapy for Arthritis

A physiotherapist will help a patient understand their arthritis, its current state, and how it may progress in the future. They will also help patients learn self-management techniques such as:

  • How to manage joint pain
  • Strategies for joint swelling reduction
  • Ways to reduce strain on joints and minimize joint deformities
  • Exercises to maintain or restore joint mobility
  • Exercise to maintain and improve strength

Your physiotherapist will also have a regiment of techniques that will be used during in-person sessions with the goal to:

  • Improve mobility
  • Restore the use of affected joints
  • Increase strength to support the joints
  • Maintain fitness
  • Preserve the ability to perform daily activities

If you have arthritis or symptoms that might be the result of arthritis and you would like to introduce physiotherapy into your management strategy, we’re here to assist. Speak to the team at Achieve Health. Then, come on in! We will help you develop a plan to manage your arthritis-related pain and stiffness.