Have your joints been described as bone on bone? This is a symptom of osteoarthritis or (OA). If you are experiencing joint pain you are not alone. In fact, OA is so common, many think it is part of life or getting older. As we age and our bones start deteriorating. Which is biologically true but the extent of it depends on many factors. Age does not determine pain and discomfort. When you have been diagnosed with OA, it does not mean you need to accept the pain that may come along with it as “normal” or due to age.
Pain Due to Aging? Not Entirely.
While age is a risk factor, it is not a determining factor. There are options for you. For example, technology has greatly improved and many people may find hip or knee replacements to be a viable solution to painful joints that can not function to their full ability. Alternatively, OA symptoms can be manageable with Manual Physical Therapy which can help you recover from surgery or avoid surgery altogether.
Past Surgery? Not a Problem.
If you have had joint surgery in the past and still experience pain, manual physical therapy is a good option for you. Manual physical therapy is the additional step necessary as a followup to these surgeries. This step is necessary to overcome the mechanical deficiencies that surgery can not address. This type of therapy begins about 6 weeks after surgery and continues as muscle recovery is needed.
While we can not promise 100% pain free, reduction of pain and increased flexibility and function are the most expected outcomes for our patients. We analyze your gait and posture and determine how we can make the muscles and joints work more efficiently. Improving biomechanics decreases stress on the affected joint leading to a reduction of pain.
Progression of OA
It is important to note that OA ranges from minor to severe. When a joint loses cartilage this means loss of cushion between your joints affecting the ability of that joint to bend and to straighten. Let’s take a look at the hip for example: at this stage, the hip will not be capable of bending and extending correctly, which changes your walking. You will start compensating by taking shorter steps etc. This compensation affects the role of two important muscles needed to take a symmetrical stride.
Importance of a Symmetry
For muscles to be efficient, they have to go through the full range of motion and recruit the entire muscle fibers. So what happens when your hip cannot move? These two muscles (psoas major and gluteus max) will overwork continuously leading to tightness which leads to even more pain. Unfortunately, this vicious cycle persists.
What if we Release Those Tight Muscles?
This would allow the joint to increase range of motion which leads to being able to take longer strides. Longer strides make you stand straighter and make walking more efficient. As a result, these muscles stop overworking which decreases OA pain. The joint is able to move more efficiently as it is intended, which will naturally decrease your muscle pain. Returning your body back to the symmetry it was meant to maintain is what ultimately reduces the pain.
Avoid Pills, Injections, and Even Surgery if You Want to
The ultimate goal is to regain normal function to joints without dangerous pills, injections or surgeries. Our goal is to get you back to doing the things you want to do. We test for and address pre-existing factors prior to a joint replacement surgery and help patients avoid surgery. If you do opt to have surgery, manual physical therapy accelerates your rehab process and gives you increased functional outcomes post surgery! We see many patients that have gone through surgery and a couple years later, the pain returns. This is an example of when the pre-existing factors were not addressed, meaning the compensations they acquired before surgery were not addressed and now came back to haunt them.
We have patients who opt for surgery when they and their doctor see a high probability of a faster and better functional outcome. However, quite a few of them end up achieving adequate pain relief from Manual Therapy. As a result, they decide to cancel the surgery. We support you through your PT journey whichever road you choose to take in regards to your OA. Pre-hab refers to any type of physical therapy that occurs before surgery. Joann’s holistic approach relies on Anatomy and Kinesiology as a guide to fix the dysfunction in your joints as they move and work together so your body can move more normally.
How Joann’s Manual PT treatment Approach Works
The first step is myofascial release which may require repetitive motions as your therapist corrects restrictions to the fascia. At Manual Physical Therapy, we recognize pain as your body’s natural alarm system so, your therapist will focus on making your body symmetrical by working on your body to release painful muscles starting with the most painful first. There are certain movements or “tests'' your therapist may have you perform to analyze and prioritize your most painful areas. The dysfunction is what leads to pain. This is why the pain is reduced after the dysfunction is addressed.
The cycle of assessment and reassessment continues as your therapist ‘tests’ or analyzes the body as a whole before continuing with treatment. Each painful muscle reveals itself with each assessment and the most painful muscle takes priority until they are all addressed or released.
Individualized Plan of Care
Each individual has their own unique limitations and has their own coping mechanisms. It is these mechanisms and not necessarily age that cause painful muscle dysfunction that gets worse over time. Using our holistic approach, we continually analyze your body on an individual level. Each person has their own unique compensations and bad habits they have developed in order to adapt to their limitations. This is the sum of all the things you do, as a result of pain, just to be able to walk or stand!
If this sounds like the situation you are facing at this time and you think you may have symptoms of OA, you may be a good candidate for manual physical therapy. Our methods have been proven to reduce pain in those who have been experiencing chronic pain for months or many years. Manual physical therapy may help you recover from surgery or help you avoid surgery in the future.