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Physical therapy & arthritis pain

Physical therapy for arthritis may include exercises to improve joint mobility and tips on posture and movement that can help a person work around pain and avoid injuries.

How can physical therapy help arthritis? 

It can help people regain mobility and reduce pain, and it may help a person delay or avoid surgery in other cases. Doctors may also recommend physical therapy after surgery.

A 2019 study assessed the efficacy of several nondrug arthritis treatments by looking at eight systematic reviews. It found that exercise and physical therapy reduced rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and eased pain.

Benefits of physical therapy

  • Helping work around injuries: Individuals with pain and injuries may move in ways that cause additional injuries or pain. Physical therapy can help a person safely work around these injuries. For example, a physical therapist can teach a person how to use a walker without stooping or adopting a posture that causes back pain.

  • Strengthening muscles and improving joint mobility: People with arthritis may be reluctant to exercise because they believe it will worsen their condition. Physical therapy helps them exercise safely, strengthening muscles and joints. This can help prevent pain from a sedentary lifestyle, promote general strength, and improve mobility.

  • Reducing pain: Physical therapy may helpTrusted Source reduce pain by strengthening muscles and joints and reducing secondary complications from a sedentary lifestyle.

  • Modifying the environment: Various environmental modifications, including using certain devices, may ease arthritis symptoms. Physical therapists may recommend these modifications and teach people how to use devices such as canes and braces.

  • Working around injuries: Physical therapists can teach people how to adapt to injuries and pain in a way that does not make them worse.

Types of physical therapy for arthritis

  • Manipulation: A physical therapist moves the affected joint or surrounding area and may massage inflamed tissue.

  • Exercise therapy: A physical therapist gives specific exercises to overcome muscle weaknesses or work around injuries.

  • Orthotic support: A therapist recommends specific devices to make movement easier.

  • Post-surgical physical therapy: A therapist helps a person regain functioning after surgery.

The type of physical therapy a person needs depends on the type of arthritis they have, its location, and their overall health. Individuals should consult a physical therapist before starting a physical therapy regimen at home. 


Physical therapy is an important part of treating arthritis. It can reduce pain, improve mobility, and help a person before or after surgery.

People with arthritis should ask a doctor about the benefits of physical therapy and research a qualified physical therapist they can trust.

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