We know living with Arthritis can be difficult. Symptoms of pain and stiffness can come and go, sometimes unexpectedly. It can be difficult to plan things ahead, not knowing how your joints will react. At Neuro Physio, you'll find information on how arthritis affects your joints, and what you can do to minimize the impact it has on your favorite activities.
Scroll down to learn about what types of treatments you should be looking for, what physicians often don't have time to talk about, how our workshops might be helpful, and other services that can help you reduce your pain and potentially avoid the use of medication, surgery or injections.
Types of Treatments
It is well documented in research that physiotherapy can have a great impact on the symptoms of arthritis. Pain and swelling can make your movements difficult. In physiotherapy, we help you correct your movement patterns, to relieve the amount of pressure placed on your joints.
Physiotherapy can be helpful at any stage of arthritis, even after you've had a joint replacement surgery! It is never too early or too late to start correcting your movement patterns, reduce your pain and get back to a normal life.
How does arthritis fit into neurology?
Arthritis effects your bones in your joints. Your nervous system in not damaged, but it does change. For example, learning a new sport takes skill. Learning a skill takes a lot of repetition. By performing the same movement over and over, your brain learns a new pattern. Before you know it, you can perform the new skill without even thinking about it.
If you have pain in your knee, for example, your walking pattern will change. You will learn a new skill: limping. Your brain has now learned to recruit your muscles to limp, automatically. Even after the symptoms are better, you will continue to limp, because this is what your brain has learned to do.
Using knowledge of the nervous system, we can correct the poor patterns that were developed over time, to help you move, without pain.
Strengthening exercises are a good place to start, but you want to make sure that you are strengthening the right muscle groups. It is important to choose exercises that target the appropriate muscles, to help stabilize your joints, and relieve the pressure. Working with a physiotherapist can help you correct your alignment during your movement, to make sure that your joint is well supported.
The type of exercise that you do is important. Your brain is most likely to remember how to recruit your muscles, if you practice during activities that are meaningful to you. We want to make the changes permanent, so we use activities that you enjoy in the clinic, and in your Home Exercise Program.
In order to make the brain understand which muscles should be working, it is important to practice them correctly, and often. Just like remembering a new phone number. You might choose to review it, to make sure you remember it correctly, then you will repeat it to yourself often to make sure that you don't forget it.
The same strategy applies to your movements. You need to make sure that you are recruiting the correct amount of muscles every time you perform an activity, like climbing a flight of stairs. For this reason, our treatment plans are designed with visits 2 to 3 times per week.
The length of treatment has two components. First, the type of session, and second, the total length of the treatment plan.
There are two types of sessions to choose from: regular treatment and complex treatment. Most people with arthritis benefit from regular treatment sessions, that focus on only one problem. If you have arthritis in more than one place, sometimes a complex treatment session is beneficial to address more than one problem at once.
For your first treatment plan, we often suggest a duration of 4 weeks. This allows us to see how you progress and how you are doing with your Home Exercise Program. After these 4 weeks, you may choose to continue on your own, or to continue for another treatment plan, which can be for up to 12 weeks.
The duration of your treatment will be discussed with your physiotherapist on the day of your initial assessment. Depending on what the findings are, and what your goals are, you will talk about what type of treatment session is most appropriate and how many weeks you should start with.
Exercise is Important!
What to expect from your specialist (and what not to):
When you are first diagnosed with arthritis, you might not be sure what to do next. Your specialist has likely talked to you about your X-Rays and what surgery can do for you. The topic of exercise has likely come up, but it might not be clear whether exercise is good or bad.
Here's some information that your specialist won't discuss with you: Alignment is everything! Movement in your joints helps to lubricate them to keep them healthy. By correcting your alignment, you can continue to exercise with a reduced amount of stress on your joints.
Exercise is very important to make sure that you continue to move with good patterns, to prevent the onset of pain and poor posture over time. You can do this on your own, or with the help of a physiotherapist. The important thing is that you keep yourself moving as much as possible for as long as possible.