Physiotherapy for Elbow Arthritis – 4 Ways to Cope WELL
According to Government of Canada’s statistics, over 16% of Canadians are reportedly living with Arthritis. Also, an estimated 64% of those living with arthritis are women and nearly 3 out of 5 are younger than 65 years of age. According to the Canadian Arthritis Society, the prevalence of Arthritis is on the rise at such a rate that by 2040. 50% more people will have Arthritis.
Elbow arthritis is one of the effects that can be caused due to wear and tear of joint cartilage from aging and daily activities. Some of the most common injuries of elbow joint are fractures and dislocations and they usually heal well. However, these injuries cause problems later as the injury may have changed the way joint biomechanics works typically. This can cause additional wear and tear than it would on a non-injured joint. Injured joints have the potential to cause degenerative changes at a faster pace that can lead to pain and inflammation. This in-turn leads to difficulty in performing daily living activities.
Physiotherapy plays a significant role in the management and treatment of RA in general and elbow arthritis in particular. Here are four ways physiotherapy can help individuals with elbow arthritis:
Pain Management for Elbow Arthritis:
Physiotherapy is instrumental in managing pain associated with elbow arthritis. Utilizing a blend of modalities, a physiotherapist can offer significant relief. Heat therapy, often through warm packs, can ease muscle tension around the elbow, enhancing blood flow and reducing discomfort. Cold therapy, on the other hand, can mitigate inflammation, providing a numbing effect that dulls pain. Techniques like Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) deliver electrical impulses that disrupt pain signals to the brain, providing an added layer of relief. Additionally, gentle joint mobilizations and soft tissue massage techniques can alleviate joint stiffness and muscle tension, further reducing pain. Through these interventions, physiotherapy offers a holistic, non-pharmacological approach to pain management for individuals suffering from elbow arthritis.
Joint Mobility & Enhancement:
Physiotherapy for elbow arthritis patients plays a significant role in enhancing joint mobility for individuals with this condition. With the onset of arthritis, the elbow joint often experiences stiffness and limited range of motion. A physiotherapist addresses these challenges using a combination of manual techniques and targeted exercises. Gentle joint mobilizations can aid in improving the articulation of the joint surfaces, gradually expanding the joint’s range. Furthermore, stretching exercises are introduced to address muscle tightness and imbalances around the elbow, promoting flexibility. Active range-of-motion exercises further encourage the elbow to move through its full extent, combating restrictions. By consistently integrating these methods, physiotherapy assists in maintaining and even reclaiming the elbow’s mobility, ensuring patients can perform daily activities with greater ease and minimal discomfort.
Another important role played by physiotherapy for individuals with elbow arthritis is in muscle strengthening. This is a critical component for joint support and overall functional improvement. Arthritis can lead to muscle atrophy and weakness due to pain-induced inactivity or protective mechanisms. A physiotherapist, with their expertise, curates a program of resistance exercises targeting key muscles around the elbow, such as the biceps, triceps, and various forearm muscles. These exercises aim to bolster muscle mass and power, providing better joint stabilization and potentially decreasing the strain on the arthritic joint. Elastic resistance bands, free weights, or even isometric exercises—where the muscle contracts without notable joint movement—are commonly employed. Through systematic and progressive muscle strengthening, physiotherapy not only offsets the muscle weakening associated with arthritis but also enhances the overall functional capacity of the elbow, making daily tasks more manageable and less painful.
Education and Activity Modifications:
Physiotherapy extends beyond mere physical interventions when managing elbow arthritis, acting as a pivotal source of education and guidance on activity modification. A fundamental component of physiotherapy is educating patients about the nature of their condition. This enables them to understand the mechanics and implications of elbow arthritis. Through this knowledge, patients become more proactive, recognizing early signs of flare-ups or exacerbations. In tandem with this educational approach, physiotherapists also guide patients on modifying their daily activities. They provide insights on joint protection techniques, ergonomic recommendations, and adaptive methods to minimize joint strain during tasks, be it in work settings, hobbies, or domestic chores. Such modifications might include using assistive tools, adjusting handgrip techniques, or incorporating breaks to prevent overuse. Ultimately, through education and activity modification strategies, physiotherapy empowers patients to navigate their daily lives more effectively, reducing the potential for pain and joint deterioration.
Immediate Help through Physiotherapy for Elbow Arthritis:
If you have been suffering through conditions relating to Arthritis in the elbow, click below to book an appointment with one of our expert physiotherapists to let us immediately start assisting you in your road to recovery.
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