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Arthritis and Osteoarthritis Physiotherapy


Arthritis and Osteoarthritis Physiotherapy

Arthritis Society Partners with pt Health

pt Health is proud to team up with the Arthritis Society to be their National Physiotherapy Champion. As healthcare professionals, we share the Arthritis Society’s mission to help people affected by arthritis advocate for themselves, find and get the best treatments available, and have the highest quality of life possible.

Causes | Symptoms | Prevention | Treatment

If you have osteoarthritis, have recently been diagnosed with osteoarthritis or think you may be at risk of developing osteoarthritis, physiotherapy can help at every stage with natural, drug-free, and non-surgical treatments that can prevent the progression of osteoarthritis and help ease pain or prevent onset. You can start physiotherapy today to start easing your symptoms.

Physiotherapy for osteoarthritis can :

  • Ease sore, painful, aching joints
  • Increase range of motion in stiff joints
  • Reduce swelling and inflammation
  • Relieve pain without medication
  • Strengthen muscles around the affected joint
  • Prevent osteoarthritis progression

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA), also called degenerative arthritis, is a degenerative joint disease that can affect any joint in the body. OA is most common in knees, hips, spine, neck, hands, fingers, the base of the thumbs, and the big toes, causing affected joints to feel sore, achy, and stiff. Read more about osteoarthritis symptoms below.

Osteoarthritis happens when the cushioning cartilage between the joints breaks down and becomes rough. In a normally functioning joint, cartilage (the firm, rubbery material that covers the end of each bone) acts as a smooth barrier between the two meeting joints allowing the joints to glide smoothly.

Diagram of knee joint illustrating how the osteoarthritis affects the cartilage in different stages of the disease.

As OA is a degenerative joint disease, the longer it goes untreated, the more it progresses to later stages. As OA progresses to later stages and the cartilage is worn away, the bones will begin to rub against each other causing bones to break down and produce growths called bone spurs.

Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis and can prevent progression to later stages.

What Joints are Affected by Osteoarthritis?

OA can strike any joint in the body, causing pain, stiffness, swelling, and a grinding sensation called crepitus. It is possible to have any number of osteoarthritis types including osteoarthritis of the:

  • knee
  • hip
  • hand
  • spine
  • neck
  • finger
  • shoulder
  • ankle
  • foot
  • low back
  • feet
  • thumb
  • wrist
  • elbow
Diagram of the joints most often affected by osteoarthritis - neck, shoulder, elbow, lower back, base of thumb, hip, tips of finger, knee, ankle, and the base of the big toe

This is by no means a comprehensive list, if you feel you may have OA of any joint, please seek an assessment from a qualified physiotherapist near you.

Signs & Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Signs, symptoms, and early indicators of osteoarthritis vary depending on the joint affected by OA and how far it has progressed. Common symptoms of OA include:

  • Sore, tender, painful, aching joints
  • Stiff joints after resting or first thing in the morning
  • Loss or inability to move
  • Swelling or inflammation inside the joint
  • Grinding, creaking, crunching or grating feeling in the joint
  • Weakness, muscle loss or unstable joints

Osteoarthritis can make it difficult to do everyday tasks like walking up or down stairs, getting out of cars, playing guitar or other fine motor skill tasks, and can make sleeping uncomfortable.

These symptoms can be managed with the help of a pt Health physiotherapist.

Osteoarthritis Treatments

Physiotherapy is a natural, drug-free, and clinically proven treatment for osteoarthritis of any joint. Depending on the joint affected, your physiotherapy treatment may include:

  • Strengthening and endurance exercises
  • Stretching, range of motion, and stability exercises
  • Functional retraining to avoid injury
  • Activity modification correct any imbalances
  • Pain relieving modalities such as
    • Interferential current therapy (IFC)
    • Therapeutic ultrasound
    • Heat and ice therapy
    • Acupuncture

Don’t let pain hold you back from doing the activities you love, speak to a physiotherapist today about the best treatment options for you.

Can You Stop Osteoarthritis?

There is no known cure for this degenerative condition. However, physiotherapy is a natural, safe, and effective remedy for osteoarthritis. Physiotherapy is clinically proven to slow the progression of OA, ease the pain, and increase range of motion helping people move more and live fuller lives with OA.

A physiotherapist has the training needed to assess your current condition, work with you to set treatment goals, and build a custom treatment plan tailored to your needs that can slow or stop progression to later stages.

Can You Prevent Osteoarthritis?

Yes, there are many known risk factors of osteoarthritis that can be reduced or eliminated with physiotherapy including:

  • Previous injury or trauma to a joint
  • A genetic predisposition
  • Gender (women are more likely to develop OA)
  • Being overweight (especially for knee or hip OA)
  • Repetitive stress injuries

If you have an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis speaking to a qualified physiotherapist about steps you can take today to prevent onset is a good first start. A physiotherapist can tailor preventative care to suit your unique needs and guide you through:

  • Healthy weight maintenance
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Custom exercise plans
  • Posture and biomechanical evaluation

Image of a woman doing yoga as a part of her preventative care for osteoarthritis

A pt Health physiotherapist has the training you need to start custom tailored care that can help prevent or slow progression of osteoarthritis.

What This Means for You and Your Family

Our partnership with the Arthritis Society allows all pt Health clinicians to gain even more valuable insight into both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis with additional learning under the Getting a Grip on Osteoarthritis© and Getting a Grip on Rheumatoid Arthritis© programs.

While all pt Health physiotherapists are skilled in the treatment of your arthritis symptoms, a Grip Trained physiotherapist has gained extra skills including the ability to:

  • Identify these different types of arthritis
  • Apply best practices in the management and prevention of arthritis
  • Provide helpful lifestyle advice and guidance

Osteoarthritis Treatment Cost & Coverage Options

Most extended health benefits plans cover the cost of physiotherapy for osteoarthritis. We offer direct billing to most major insurance companies and take care of the paperwork for you too.

Government Funding for Osteoarthritis Treatment

Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHS)

Coverage for physiotherapy treatment of osteoarthritis is available in both the Calgary region and Edmonton region under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP), also known as Alberta Health Services or AHS.

British Columbia Medical Services Plan (MSP)

Coverage for physiotherapy is available for BC residents that qualify for Supplementary Benefits under the British Columbia Media Services Plan.
If you have osteoarthritis of the hip, knee, ankle, foot, wrist or hand, you may be eligible for The OsteoArthritis Service Integration System

(OASIS), a referral based admission program. Learn more about the OASIS application process here.

New Brunswick Medicare

Unfortunately, there is no provincial coverage for physiotherapy under New Brunswick Medicare except for physiotherapy services delivered in a hospital.

Nova Scotia Medical Services Insurance (MSI)

Nova Scotia MSI does not cover the cost of any paramedical services including physiotherapy unless it is performed in a hospital.

Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)

As of 2013, OHIP does not cover the cost of physiotherapy treatments for chronic conditions. As osteoarthritis is a chronic condition, it is not eligible for OHIP funded physiotherapy at this time. For more details and information about accessing OHIP funded physiotherapy, please click here.

For same-day appointments, or to speak to us directly, call: 1 (289) 334-1344