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Physiotherapy – How Can It be Useful in Arthritis Management?

Arthritis is a group of conditions that cause joint pain, swelling and stiffness. Joints are places where two or more bones meet. Arthritis can affect any joint, including the hips, knees, hands, wrists, feet and spine. Symptoms of arthritis can include pain, swelling, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Treatment for arthritis usually includes medications, physical therapy, lifestyle changes and sometimes surgery.

Common treatments for arthritis include —

Exercise and physiotherapy: Regular exercise and physiotherapy for arthritis help to strengthen the muscles around joints and increase flexibility. 

Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. 

Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying heat or cold to affected joints can help reduce pain and stiffness. 

Steroid Injections: Corticosteroid injections may reduce inflammation in specific joints. 

Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct joint deformities or repair damaged joints caused by arthritis. 

Supplements: Dietary supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin may help reduce symptoms of arthritis.

Role of physiotherapy in arthritis management

Our Calgary physiotherapy provides arthritis treatment focusing on improving joint movement, strength and flexibility. Depending on the type of arthritis, specific exercises may be recommended. Exercises can include strengthening the muscles around the affected joint, stretching, range-of-motion exercises, balance and coordination exercises and postural exercises. These exercises help reduce pain and stiffness while improving joint mobility and overall function.

Your physiotherapist may also use other treatments, such as heat or cold therapy, ultrasound or electrotherapy, to help manage your symptoms. These treatments can help reduce inflammation and pain while increasing blood flow to the area. They can also help improve the affected joint's range of motion and flexibility.

The main goals of physiotherapy for arthritis are to help improve joint mobility and strength, reduce pain, and improve overall function. Physiotherapists use various techniques to help patients with arthritis manage their condition.

Some of the most common physiotherapy treatments used to manage arthritis include the following.

Range of Motion Exercises

Range of motion (ROM) exercises to increase joint movement, flexibility, and strength. These exercises can help improve joint range of motion, reduce stiffness and pain, and strengthen the muscles around the joint. Common ROM exercises for people with arthritis include stretching, range-of-motion, and strengthening exercises.

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy is a type of physical therapy for arthritis that involves hands-on techniques such as massage, mobilization, and manipulation to relieve pain and improve joint mobility. Manual therapy can benefit people with arthritis because it helps restore normal joint movement and improves muscle flexibility. 

Heat Therapy

Heat therapy is a type of treatment that uses heat to reduce stiffness in the joints and relax the muscles around them. Heat therapy can be applied directly to the affected area or through a hot or cold pack. Physiotherapists in Calgary often combine heat therapy with other treatments, such as exercise or manual therapy, to maximize its effectiveness in reducing pain and improving joint flexibility. 


Cryotherapy is a treatment that uses cold temperatures to reduce inflammation in the joints and relieve pain. Cryotherapy can be applied through cold packs, ice baths, or ice machines that produce cold air or liquid nitrogen vapors around the affected area. Cryotherapy can help reduce inflammation around the joint and promote healing by reducing swelling.

Ultrasound Therapy

The usage of ultrasound in physiotherapy treatment is much more common, wherein therapists leverage sound waves to penetrate deep into the tissues around the affected area. This stimulates healing by increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation. Ultrasound therapy can be combined with other treatments, such as exercise or manual therapy, to maximize its effectiveness in relieving pain and improving mobility.

Electrical Stimulation

Electrical stimulation is a treatment that uses electrical impulses to stimulate muscles around the affected area to reduce pain and improve joint function. Our physiotherapists in Calgary apply electrical stimulation through electrodes placed on the skin near the affected area or through an electrical stimulation device that transmits impulses directly into the muscles around the joint. Physiotherapists in Calgary blend electrical stimulation with other treatments, such as exercise or manual therapy, to maximize its effectiveness in relieving pain and restoring normal joint function.


The role of physiotherapy in managing arthritis is clear. It is an important part of a comprehensive approach to managing this condition and can help to reduce pain, improve mobility, and restore or maintain joint function. Physiotherapy treatments for arthritis may include exercises, manual therapy, electrotherapy, hydrotherapy, and self-management strategies such as education and lifestyle changes. Moreover, these treatments can help to reduce the risk of further joint damage and improve quality of life.
These are just some of the many physiotherapy treatments available for people with arthritis. People with arthritis must work closely with a physiotherapist who can customize a treatment plan based on their needs and goals. Our physiotherapists in Calgary provide proper guidance where patients can find relief from their symptoms while managing their condition effectively over time.