Physical therapy effective for arthritis sufferers
Orthopedic surgeon David Stapor and physical therapist Matt Guarino discuss arthritis and the best ways to treat it during a class at the Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center.
Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter
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Orthopedic surgeon David Stapor answers questions about how to medically treat arthritis after a powerpoint discussion at the Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center.
Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter
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When Alfreda Haught began having severe neck pain at the end of last year, she was worried and feeling panicked, afraid that she would need disc surgery similar to the one she had in 1998. The 70-year-old Canonsburg woman was relieved to learn that a few weeks of physical therapy might be all she needed to relieve the pain caused by her osteoarthritis.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” said Haught. “It never occurred to me that heat therapy, massage therapy and a series of exercises could completely eliminate my pain, but it worked. I only needed therapy for about two weeks and now I’m completely pain-free. I faithfully do the exercises that the physical therapist taught me every day because I don’t want the pain to return. So far, the results have been great.”
Haught was referred to Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center in Washington, where she received treatment from physical therapist Matt Guarino.
Guarino said the center sees many arthritis patients, with varying arthritic severity, who benefit from physical therapy because of its ability to decrease stiffness, pain, inflammation, and accurately treat the areas of the body where the muscles are tight and weak.
“For patients with mild to moderate pain, heat therapy, specific exercises and a consistent cardiovascular program is very successful,” said Guarino. “Exercising the muscles and trouble areas in the therapy pool has also become a popular alternative. The pool decreases a person’s body weight, is gentle on the joints, and allows for exercise without pain. We have learned through research that one of the best remedies for arthritis pain is movement. People with arthritis often won’t move because it hurts to move, but in actuality, the more they move, the more the pain will decrease. Having a physical therapists guide the process is an important step.”
In January, Dr. David Stapor, an orthopedic surgeon at Washington Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, presented a lecture at Cameron Wellness Center in Washington about the types of arthritis, the pain it causes, and ways to live with the pain if surgery is not an option, or in some cases, after surgery.
“One of the first things I recommend is for patients to not seek advice and information about treatments and supplements over the Internet,” said Stapor. “It is important to get a professional evaluation before you begin to self-treat. For some, surgery might be an option for a hip or knee joint in which the cartilage has worn away, but I typically only operate on those who are active. Surgery is not an effective option if a patient is not consistently active. If surgery is not an option, we recommend physical therapy for relief. If a person is overweight, losing weight is the first step in decreasing pain.”
Haught plans to continue the physical therapy exercises on a daily basis to keep the pain away and to stay out of the operating room.
“Physical therapy was a beautiful surprise and a pleasant little miracle for me,” said Haught. “I kept thinking about how I couldn’t do it again if I had to have another surgery. I am amazed at the results.”
• Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis; it affects the cartilage in the joints causing it to break down and eventually be lost.
• Inflammatory arthritis includes rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, and psoriatic arthritis. This disease affects the entire body.
• Between 40 million and 50 million Americans are affected with osteoarthritis.
• Risk factors for osteoarthritis include age, family history, injury/trauma and obesity
• Osteoarthritis accounts for more than 7 million physician visits per year. It strikes the weight-bearing joints of the hips, knees, feet, fingers and toes, and it is the second-most common cause of long-term disability in adults
• Arthritis is diagnosed if the patient has loss of arc motion, morning stiffness, contracture (can’t fully straighten), effusion (swelling), join tenderness, muscle atrophy and varus or valgus deformity; an X-ray will also detect joint space narrowing, malalignment and bone spurs .
• Operative methods for arthritis include arthroscopy, osteotomy, unicompartmental replacement, total replacement.
Source: Dr. David Stapor
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