Inflammation is a leading cause of the pain we treat in many of our physical therapy patients. It is a word we routinely hear on television commercials and see ads for on social media and beyond. Yes, there are pharmaceuticals out there to treat inflammation, but there are ways, too, that don’t involve taking a daily pill.
Inflammation is a medical term used by healthcare professionals to describe a process that is taking place within our bodies when it is trying to ward off infection or some other ailment. But for some, such as those who suffer from arthritis, there is no ailment or infection, there is just pain. This type of inflammation is due to an autoimmune disorder and according to the CDC, a significant amount of adults in the United States, over 54 million, have arthritis.
Arthritis is a joint disorder. In this disorder, inflammation is a key and constant feature. The inflammation, in turn, causes pain. There are medicines or pharmaceuticals that can help or bring relief. One can see television commercials and other marketing ads for these medicines all the time. However, there are more natural ways to combat inflammation with effectiveness and success.
- Physical Therapy – By identifying areas through an evaluation and building a treatment plan to address the pain and any located weaknesses, your physical therapist can help eliminate or reduce inflammation hot spots. Types of treatments may include manual therapy, exercise and stretching, icing and/or the use of a TENS
- Massage Therapy – Studies have indicated that stressed or overworked muscles displaying signs of inflammation respond to massage.
- Nutrition – The power of eating a nutritious and healthy diet cannot be overstated. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables will help your body ward off inflammation, while other foods or drinks, such as refined sugars, soda and red meat, will do the opposite and cause inflammation.
There are additional ways to treat or reduce inflammation. Acupuncture, tai chi, weight loss, and even hypnosis, can and have been used to bring relief to those who suffer from it. The type of non-medicinal or alternative treatment you choose to help you may depend on the source or area causing pain or discomfort. Your healthcare provider may be able to provide guidance in what’s best for you.
There are a number of reputable websites and online tools to help in your self-management efforts. Because arthritis and inflammation affect so many in the U.S. and around the world, finding information to assist you, along with the recommendations of your physician, physical therapist or other care provider, is not difficult and can be useful and informative. Organizations that can provide topical information include the CDC, the Arthritis Foundation, and Arthritis National Research Foundation.
If you think you are experiencing symptoms of arthritis or inflammation, schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she can help determine if it is arthritis or if it is something entirely different. Because arthritis and inflammation can cause pain and discomfort it is important to address as at times the pain can be quite debilitating and your lifestyle can be altered.
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