What Physical Therapy Can Do For Arthritis

| Live Your Life PT

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the joints.  Hips, knees, hands, and spine are the most affected joints in the body. Arthritis is not a single disease but an umbrella term that includes osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.

Symptoms of Arthritis:

  • Joint Pain
  • Joint Stiffness
  • Joint Swelling


While physical therapy might not be the first treatment you think of for arthritis, it probably should be. Many people with arthritis choose to use medication to manage their pain, stop activities that hurt, and wait for things to get bad enough to have a joint replacement. But this is not a great plan – all medications have side effects, even over-the-counter ones. Reduced activity leads to muscle deterioration and even stiffer joints. Even though joint replacement surgery usually has good results, it does come with its own set of risks and a painful recovery.


Physical therapists can provide education to help you understand your arthritis, what to expect, and how to manage it. As experts in human movement, physical therapists are especially good at helping you modify how you perform certain tasks or activities to reduce the burden on your joints. They can also suggest ways to modify your environment at work or home to reduce pain and improve function. They may also suggest devices like braces and orthotics which are shoe inserts that help support your foot. These devices can help you keep doing the activities you love while reducing your joint pain. On top of all that, physical therapy has been proven to be a cost-effective treatment for arthritis.


Physical therapy has been extensively researched as a treatment for arthritis that produces positive results. Physical therapists typically start with exercise as the base for arthritis treatment. Exercise helps to regain lost joint motion, decrease feelings of stiffness, and strengthen muscles surrounding the problematic joint. What surprises many people is that exercise is just as effective as medication for pain relief in many types of arthritis, without the medication’s side effects.

With so many techniques that are proven effective in helping people with arthritis, physical therapy is a recommended first-line treatment for many types of arthritis. Now that you better understand what physical therapy can do, hopefully, you’ll think of physical therapy first as a more holistic approach to managing your arthritis symptoms. Our physical therapists at Live Your Life Physical Therapy would love the opportunity to work with you on treating your arthritic symptoms. Contact us for a free consultation. 


  1. Rhodes, V J. “Physical therapy management of patients with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.” Physical therapy vol. 71,12 (1991): 910-9. doi:10.1093/ptj/71.12.910
  2. Skou, Søren T, and Ewa M Roos. “Physical therapy for patients with knee and hip osteoarthritis: supervised, active treatment is current best practice study.” Clinical and experimental rheumatology vol. 38,5 (2020): 1036.
  3. Kuntze, Gregor, et al. “Exercise Therapy in Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation vol. 99,1 (2018): 178-193.e1. doi:10.1016/j.apmr.2017.05.030
  4. “Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis. “ American College of Rheumatology, 9 Nov. 2015, https://www.rheumatology.org/About-Us/Newsroom/Press-Releases/ID/718. Press Release.
  5. Villines, Zawn. “ Can physical therapy reduce arthritis pain?” Medical News Today, 29 April 2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/physical-therapy-for-arthritis.
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