Can Physical Therapy Decrease Arthritic Pain?

Common sites for arthritis include the neck, low back, knees, hips, shoulders and hands. Unfortunately arthritis, in one form or another, is likely to impact most people as they age. There are many different types of arthritis; osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis. However, all arthritic conditions involve joint cartilage damage. Osteoarthritis is typically caused by wear and tear, whereas other forms have a stronger genetic component. Other contributing factors include advanced age, increased body mass, excessive use, trauma, neuromuscular and metabolic disorders, and inactivity. 

Physical therapy can help decrease pain, improve function, and delay worsening of the condition! Physical therapy treatment for arthritis typically involves strengthening and stretching weak and tight muscles, activity modification, postural retraining, relaxation and endurance activities, use of icing or heat to decrease pain. Physical therapy has been shown to be underutilized in the treatment of arthritis. Patients may even have similar outcomes with physical therapy as with having a joint replacement! 

However, since there are many different forms and severities of arthritis, and there may be different contributing factors, it is important to have an evaluation done by a physical therapist to develop a plan to manage your arthritis.  

  1. Sueki D, Brechter J. Orthopedic Rehabilitation Clinical Advisor. Mosby Inc. 2010.

  2. Goodman C, Fuller K. Pathology: Implications for the Physical Therapist. Fourth Edition. W.B. Saunders Company. 2015.

  3. Reese EP. Arthritis; the use of physical therapy as an aspect of management. Calif Med. 1958;89(3):204%E2%80%90209.




Chris Graves PT, DPT