Why You Need A BETTER Approach to Physical Therapy for Osteoarthritis 2021

physical therapy for osteoarthritis

Physical therapy for osteoarthritis can be extremely effective with the right approach. Research shows “…participation in an exercise and education intervention while on the waiting list for TKA (total knee arthroplasty) may cause some patients with end-stage OA (osteoarthritis) to gain sufficient control over the pain so that they no longer feel they need surgery” Commonly, people fail with traditional physical therapy without understanding why they are doing what they are prescribed and the level of importance related to reducing arthritis pain. You could be missing out on significant pain relief and you could even avoid premature surgery! Let’s look what you could gain from a better, more detailed approach.

It’s time to look at physical therapy for osteoarthritis in a different light. Instead of just “fixing your pain” let’s change your life.

When you think of physical therapy, what are your initial thoughts? 

  • fixing pain with exercises
  • somewhere I go when I get hurt
  • helping athletes getting back to sport

Sound familiar? Many people have a perception that you go to physical therapy once you are injured to get better. Instead, getting ahead of pain, especially in a condition such as osteoarthritis can be a matter of requiring surgery or not. It can be a matter of being able to keep up with your grandkids or not. It can be a matter of keeping your adventure alive or living your life from the couch.

You need much more than movement to heal. You need support, you need guidance, you need confidence. This doesn’t all come from movement. As a physical therapist, we can offer so much more than that. Take a look at these comments from real patients:

  • “Thank you for all of your hard work and especially your emotional support…this has been a very difficult road for me to travel. You were a gift to me, thank you soooo much!”
  • “I have had shoulder pain for so many years from working in the factory I never thought it was ever going away. Everything has been so hard on me, especially living alone. You’re the first person to actually listen. I never thought my shoulder could ever feel this good again, ever”.
  • “I cannot thank you enough for finally giving me the confidence to go to church again and see all of my friends I haven’t seen in ages. I used to be so fearful due to pain but now I can finally enjoy myself again, and I even like to exercise again!”

Life is hard. Pain is frustrating. Illness can be emotional. We need so much more than just exercise.

Many times I hear from people that when they go for traditional medical care whether its a hospital, office setting, emergency room, etc. that they are able to see someone face to face let alone get answers to their questions. People are usually only able to see physicians for very short periods of time, 5-10 minutes if you’re lucky. 

In that short time, there is no way anyone is going to be able to learn about you. They might learn about your condition, but not about you. They don’t have time to learn about what you really want, what your pain is really stopping you from doing.

When this occurs, patients usually end up scouring Google, asking friends/family, and spending tons of money on things that only lead to temporary relief. This is where the problem lies. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there. This is why we have made it our mission to give a research-based, highly skilled way to get proper information about osteoarthritis.

Once we begin down the rabbit hole of misinformation, beliefs can trigger more pain, more stress, and feelings of hopelessness. This then leads to surgeries done way too early and dependency on pain medications.

What if instead, you could break this cycle and actually prevent surgeries? With a new approach to physical therapy for osteoarthritis we totally can.

There is hope for osteoarthritis sufferers, you just have to be connected with the right health professionals to realize it.

Let’s take this patient example.

Here we will see the vital role that physical therapy can play when approached from a different angle. This is a real patient of mine (name excluded).

She had chronic knee pain for “a long time”, had a history of a car accident which led to a long road of repeated back surgeries, pain, and depression. Always in constant pain. Nothing worked. She was tossed around from different medical professionals with no answers and no results.

We completed a movement assessment and did all of our typical physical therapy things. Then, we just talked. She shared her story. What stood out to me was her constant stress fueled by frustrations around her pain. She had given up on regular movement and exercise and adopted an inflammatory diet that had led her down a spiraling path of weight gain, poor movement, and emotional distress.

None of her physicians or surgeons had ever asked her how the pain was impacting her life, what the pain was stopping her from, or what she wanted to get out of pain for.

Instead, physical therapists have the ability to go in deeper. We can ask these questions aside from your pain levels. With this new approach, we no longer are seeing 3 patients at once. Think about it. What do you actually like, what do you hate, what motivates you most? What would your life really look like if you didn’t have to worry about pain all the time? How would you feel? 

Understanding these questions helps to create a better plan. Instead of just going through the motions, we not can help you get out of pain but also to stay out of pain.

The story continues…

We came up with a plan.  Getting her knee better meant seeing her grandchildren more, being able to take care of them. Going to the grocery store herself without needing someone to go with her to help carry the groceries inside. Planning a new family vacation as she could finally walk through the airport and enjoy walking on the beach again.

These goals were motivating enough for her to set aside a few minutes a day to complete the exercises that would heal her knee more efficiently. We also made walking one of her primary exercises as she loved walking around the block to see her neighbors, used it as social time- which helped her do it more often.

Guess what? Now her knee is better than it ever has been before. She was motivated, confident, and ready to plan that vacation. Stress levels were down, she was sleeping better, feeling better for the first time in YEARS.

Physical therapy for osteoarthritis is more than just giving exercises to treat you when you get hurt.

Here at Keep the Adventure Alive, we have the time to get to know you, understand your fears, what keeps you up at night, what stresses you out. If we don’t find these things, pain won’t go away. Unfortunately, most traditional physical therapy clinics don’t have the time and instead your pain will be masked by medication and massage, and likely will just keep coming back. 

We are so passionate about giving people their life back. It’s more than just getting rid of pain. It’s being able to travel with family again, being able to go up and down stairs in your own home without pain. It’s taking that long hike that you have always wanted to do. It’s seeing your friends more often. Those things are so much more important. What would getting rid of pain help you do?

Say to yourself today, “I am done dealing with this pain and I want my life back”. Commit to it.

And say it again.

Imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t have to deal with constant pain.

Once you’re committed, let us guide you on your journey of freeing yourself from the burden of pain and lead a life you want. We can do this together.

Physical therapy is more than just treating your injury with a few exercises. So stop waiting! Let’s make the leap today.

The next step is to schedule a free call with Dr. Alyssa Kuhn where she learns more about you and your goals. Keep the Adventure Alive has a variety of program options and we want to make sure you are on the right path to success.

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Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. It does not create a doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Kuhn and you. You should not make any change in your health regimen or diet before first consulting a physician and obtaining a medical exam, diagnosis, and recommendation. Move Well Age Well, LLC and Dr. Alyssa Kuhn, PT, DPT are not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any conclusions drawn, services or product you obtain through this video or site.