Physiotherapy is a vital part of treatment for most people with arthritis. Physiotherapy helps keep your joints and muscles moving and helps to get moving on your own. People with arthritis are usually advised of a course of physiotherapy. This includes a program of exercises tailored to your needs and pain relief techniques.
Physiotherapy helps arthritis in many ways such as:
- It helps understand how arthritis affects you
- Helps in pain management
- Helps improve your fitness
- Helps you keep moving and strengthen your muscles during recovery
Physiotherapy for knee arthritis
Regularly exercising an arthritis knee joint relieves symptoms such as stiffness and swelling. Some reasons to exercise with knee arthritis include:
- Exercise maintains a full range of motion of the joint
- It helps to strengthen the muscles that support the joint
- It helps the joint in shock absorption
Exercises recommended for knee arthritis
Gentle, low-impact exercises for the knee joint are advised by physiotherapists. The best exercises are those you can do at home or work during a break. They are easy, efficient and do not require any equipment. Perform them slowly and gradually increase the duration and number of repetitions with each day. Always make sure you do a few gentle stretches before and after you exercise. Here are a few easy exercises to follow:
- Leg raise while lying down:
- Lie flat on your back on the floor or a yoga mat.
- Keep your leg straight while tightening your muscles, slowly lift it several inches.
- Push your lower back down and tighten your stomach.
- Hold in this position for a count of 5 and then lower your leg as slowly as possible.
- Repeat with the other leg.
- Begin with 4 sets per leg, increasing the number of sets slowly every few days.
- Hamstring stretch while lying down
- Lie on the floor flat on your back with both legs bent at the knee
- Slowly lift one leg with your knee still bent, bringing your knee to your chest.
- Join your hands behind your thigh and slowly extend your leg
- Pull your straight leg back toward your head as much as possible until you feel the stretch.
- Hold for thirty to sixty seconds and then slowly bend your knee and release your leg back to the floor.
- Perform the stretch once on each leg.
- Half squat
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms stretched forward
- Slowly bend your knees as if you are in a half-sitting position
- Don’t lean forward- keep your chest lifted and back straight.
- Keeping your feet flat on the floor, count to 5
- Slowly return to a standing position
- Do a set of ten repetitions. Slowly work towards three sets at a time.
- Leg stretch
- Sit on the floor with your back straight and legs outstretched. Support yourself with your palms flat on the floor on either side of you
- Slowly bend your knee until it feels stretched.
- Maintain this position for a count of 5 and then slowly return to the resting position
- Repeat and switch legs, ten times each.
Physiotherapy for a frozen shoulder
If a frozen shoulder is bothering you for a long time, physiotherapy can slow down its progression and improve joint mobility. Shoulder arthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis of the shoulder and occurs due to wearing out of the cartilage within the joint cavity.
The most beneficial exercises for shoulder arthritis include a range of motion and flexibility exercises such as stretches to reduce stiffness, strength exercises to improve muscle mass around the joint, and aerobic exercises to improve general health and fitness.
Here are a few shoulder exercises to help arthritis:
- Shoulder elevation stretch
- Lie on your back and hold a stick or broom with both hands shoulder-width apart.
- Place the stick on your thighs
- Slowly raise the stick up past your chest and then over the head. Keep your arms straight throughout.
- Lower the stick slowly back to the thighs.
- Do three sets of 10 repetitions once a day
- Shoulder outward rotation stretch
- Lie on your back
- Keeping your arms by your side, bend your elbows and hold the stick above the chest with your hands shoulder-width apart.
- Slowly move the pole to one side until you feel a stretch
- Return to the starting position
- Repeat on the other side.
- Perform three sets, ten times a day.
- Shoulder blade rotations
- Stand in a relaxed manner with your hands by your side
- Raise your shoulders toward your ears and hold for 5 seconds
- Squeeze your shoulders together and hold for 5 seconds
- Repeat ten times
- Door lean: This exercise helps stretch shoulder muscles and improve joint resistance.
- Stand facing a doorway and raise both hands above your head
- Place one hand on either side of the door frame
- Lean forward until you feel a mild tension in your shoulder
- Hold this position for 15-30 seconds
- Repeat thrice everyday.
Dr. Jayavardhan Y B | Consultant – Orthopaedics | Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, Mysore