Don’t Let Arthritis Be a Pain
Ever since his retirement 10 years ago, John lives to play golf. But one morning, as he lifted a driver from the bag on the cart, the persistent pain in his back dampened John’s spirits. The pain seared through John’s back as he hit the ball and watched it sail down the fairway. Knowing he wouldn’t make the 18 rounds pain free, John replaced the driver to the bag and steered the cart back to the clubhouse.
On his way home, John thought about what could be causing this recurrent pain that had plagued him since the beginning of the year. Only 72 years old, he was active and in good health. Not ready to give up his passion to his pain, John sought the help of a physical therapist who identified the underlying causes of his pain, stemming from his diagnosis of osteoarthritis. As it turns out, John’s repetitive bending while washing his car exacerbated problems that can stem from arthritis.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is inflammation of the joints that connect the bones of the body. Medical experts have identified 100 types of arthritis, which range from osteoarthritis, in which joint cartilage is worn down over time, to rheumatoid arthritis caused by an overactive immune system. Arthritis affects men, women and children of all ages. Proper diagnosis is critical to proper treatment and long-term pain relief. Physical therapy is one of the major treatments recognized by medical professionals.
How Is Arthritis Treated?
While there is no known cure for arthritis, it is possible to live with the disorder pain free. While many patients take over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers to reduce inflammation and discomfort, the physical therapists John turned to at Professional Therapy Associates devised a comprehensive treatment plan that produced long-term relief in six short weeks. The plan included:
• Manual therapy to correct the alignment of John’s spine, which had become out of alignment due to John’s overcompensating movements while in pain
• Exercises designed to increase flexibility and strengthen core muscles in John’s abdomen, his back and his lower extremities, which had become weak
• Education and training for proper bending and lifting when performing tasks such as washing his car
• A home exercise program for pain management and symptom relief
After six weeks of treatment from professionals at Professional Therapy Associates, John was able to realize 95 percent improvement in movement and flexibility—pain free.
How Can I Manage Arthritis Pain and Still Be Active?
Experts at Professional Therapy Associates say that when dealing with a disorder such as arthritis it is more important than ever to pay attention to how you perform movements during your daily routine.
“The old adage of ‘lift with your knees’ is vital for someone with arthritis,” says Blaine Stimac, CEO and professional physical therapist at Professional Therapy Associates. “Pay attention—listen to your body and work with it when performing everyday tasks. It will save you from pain later.”
Stimac says there are three areas to focus on to stay pain free while living with arthritis: Pay attention to your movement, exercise frequently and breathe properly while performing everyday tasks.
• Proper lifting is one of the best ways to prevent arthritis pain from creeping into your joints during everyday activities. Stimac says keeping feet staggered and shoulder width apart, keeping the object as close to your body as possible and lifting “from your knees and not your back” is the proper way to lift an object from the floor.
• Frequent exercise such as walking keeps your joints lubricated and flexible. Stimac advises frequent exercise throughout the day to maintain flexibility in joints and muscles.
• Breathe properly to help keep your muscles loose. “Holding your breath tightens muscles,” explains Stimac. “Breathe in through your nose until you feel it expand in your belly. When you exhale, you should feel your belly deflate and get flatter.”
• Seek professional help from a Physical Therapist if problem persists
During your consultation, a physical therapist will conduct appropriate tests to determine if the cause of your pain is related to a form of arthritis or another disorder or injury. Professional Therapy Associates offers a free comprehensive health and injury screening valued at $100 for residents of Flathead Valley. You may register online or make an appointment at one of PTA’s four convenient locations: North Kalispell (406-756-7878), Whitefish (406-862-5033), Columbia Falls (406- 892-7999) and Flathead Health and Fitness in Downtown Kalispell (406-257-5610).