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The Power of Physical Therapy in Arthritis Treatment

Arthritis is a prevalent condition that affects millions of people worldwide; just in the U.S., there are 58.5 million people suffering from this condition, which causes significant pain and discomfort. However, there is hope for relief and improved function through physical therapy, an effective treatment for arthritis.

arthritis in hands

Physical Therapy in Arthritis Treatment

Physical therapy has shown promising results in reducing pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Skilled physical therapists utilize various modalities, including ice, heat, and hands-on manual therapy, to help alleviate inflammation and pain in the affected area. These techniques can provide immediate relief and create a conducive environment for healing. In addition to these modalities, physical therapists often recommend specific exercises and stretches that target the affected joints, promoting improved joint mobility and reducing pain over time.

PT Improves Strength & Flexibility

One of the key benefits of physical therapy for arthritis is its ability to improve strength and flexibility. Arthritis often leads to weakness and stiffness in the affected joints, which can exacerbate pain and limit function. Physical therapists develop individualized exercise programs that focus on strengthening specific muscle groups around the affected joint. By targeting these muscles, physical therapy helps improve stability, support, and overall joint function. Flexibility exercises are also incorporated to enhance range of motion, making everyday activities easier and less painful.

PT Prevents Further Joint Damage

Another crucial aspect of physical therapy is its role in preventing further joint damage. As arthritis progresses, it can cause irreversible damage to the joints, leading to increased pain, decreased mobility, and potential disability. Physical therapists play a vital role in educating patients on proper joint mechanics and movement patterns that minimize stress on the joints. By adopting correct posture and body mechanics, individuals can reduce the risk of further damage and preserve joint health.

PT Improves Quality of Life

Beyond pain reduction and joint protection, physical therapy aims to improve overall function and enhance quality of life. Many individuals with arthritis struggle with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, and walking due to pain and limitations. Physical therapists address these challenges by teaching patients how to use assistive devices and recommending adaptive techniques that reduce pain and discomfort. By incorporating these strategies into daily routines, individuals regain independence and experience an improved quality of life.


The effectiveness of physical therapy in treating arthritis has been supported by research. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy followed 148 participants with knee osteoarthritis who received physical therapy for six weeks. The results were promising, with participants reporting significant improvements in pain, stiffness, and overall function. This study demonstrates the positive impact that physical therapy can have on managing arthritis symptoms and enhancing well-being.

Rehab United Seattle Can Help You!

Physical therapy is a powerful treatment option for individuals with arthritis. It addresses pain, improves strength and flexibility, prevents further joint damage, and enhances overall function and quality of life. If you or someone you know is struggling with arthritis, contact us today! Embrace the possibilities of physical therapy and take a step toward a life with less pain.


Kelly Vanhove, PT, DPT, FAFS, ATC is a licensed physical therapist, certified athletic trainer, and Director of the Seattle Rehab United Clinic. With over 14 years of experience in outpatient physical therapy as well as being a Fellow of Applied Functional Science, he possesses valuable knowledge of all functional techniques of assessment, rehabilitation, training and conditioning, performance, and prevention.

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