How Physical Therapy Helps Arthritis and Joint Pain

If you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from arthritis or joint pain, you’ve probably tried a myriad of pain relief products and techniques and often a combination or treatments usually help. 

There are several types of arthritis and while it’s often associated with the aging population, you can get arthritis at any age. This common condition causes pain, inflammation, and stiffness in the joints. The symptoms of arthritis often make it difficult to perform everyday activities. 

Some of the most common treatments for arthritis and joint pain include:

  • Medications: NSAIDs, counterirritants, steroids, DMARDs
  • Physical Therapy
  • Surgery: Joint repair, Joint Replacement, and Joint Fusion

You may be wondering if physical therapy can help. The answer is YES! Physical therapy can provide relief for a wide variety of symptoms to include pain, inflammation, and stiffness by improving range of motion and strength.

Physical Therapy Treatment for Arthritis


There are a variety of physical therapy treatments that can be effective for treating arthritis. These often include a combination of the following:

Exercise: Exercise can help to improve range of motion, reduce pain and stiffness, and increase strength through daily movement. Your therapist will make specific recommendations, but exercises for arthritis may include:

  • Range of motion exercises
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Low impact or moderate aerobic exercises

Manual Therapy: Manual therapy is a type of physical therapy that involves the use of hands-on techniques by specially trained therapists to release tension in the muscles and joints. A physical therapy session will often incorporate manual therapies.  

Electrical Stimulation: Electrical stimulation is a treatment that uses electrical impulses to reduce pain. E-stim sends mild electrical pulses through the skin to help stimulate injured muscles or manipulate nerves to reduce pain. E-stim may not be appropriate for everyone, but for many people this painless procedure is accelerating recovery and providing relief from painful or uncomfortable symptoms.

Therapeutic Ultrasound: Ultrasound is a physical therapy treatment that uses sound waves to reduce pain and inflammation. Ultrasound waves are administered through use of a wand placed on a patient’s skin. A gel is usually put on the skin before application. Treatment time is generally between 3 and 5 minutes per treatment area. 

In Ultrasound treatment, the sound waves generate heat and increase blood flow. This relaxes muscles and connective tissues and reduces pain and muscle spasms. The tissue stimulation encourages healing and repair. 

Dry Needling: Dry Needling uses needles strategically placed in trigger points around the body to increase blood circulation, range of motion and muscle function while decreasing pain without medication.  

Your physical therapist will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is specific to your needs. Treatment may be short-term or long-term, depending on the severity of your symptoms.

If you are suffering from arthritis or joint pain, physical therapy can help! Contact Elite Sports Physical Therapy in the Waco, Texas area to schedule a consultation. We will develop a treatment plan that is specific to your needs and help you get on the road to recovery!