Arthritis is a catch-all term referring to more than one hundred diseases and conditions where there is inflammation of the joints in addition to pain, swelling, and/or stiffness. Since there is no cure, treatment for arthritis focuses on managing the symptoms. Procedures like ultrasound therapy can help reduce the uncomfortable symptoms associated with arthritis.
There are many possible causes of arthritis including:
- infection (e.g. gonococcal, tuberculous, pneumococcal, etc.)
- trauma to the joint
- degenerative changes (e.g. osteoarthritis, hypertrophic arthritis, senescent arthritis)
- metabolic disturbances
- autoimmune disorders (e.g. lupus erythematous)
One of the most common problems associated with any type of arthritis is synovial fluid disturbance. Synovial fluid is the lubricant that exists around the body’s joints and cartilage. Arthritis causes the depletion of synovial fluid. This causes the bones to rub against each other as they no longer protect the joint, leading to pain and loss of function.
The Most Common Types of Arthritis
As we discussed, there are over 100 types of arthritis, but two of the most common types of arthritis are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease and is the most common form of Arthritis and usually develops in people over 45 years old.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes patients to develop chronic pain, stiffness, and loss of function and can affect many joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can occur in patients of any age with symptoms intensifying with time.
The most common type of treatment for arthritis is the prescribed use of oral pain medication. The most common way to treat arthritis is to take prescription oral pain relievers. However, physical therapy and ultrasound therapy offer another pain management option for arthritis patients and provide them with additional therapeutic benefits such as improving functional movement.
How Ultrasound Therapy Improves Arthritis Symptoms
According to research ultrasound therapy is an effective, non-invasive alternative to treating the pain associated with arthritis. Ultrasound therapy creates deep heat in the soft tissues of the body, thereby relieving pain in localized areas of discomfort. Additionally, ultrasound therapy can be used in conjunction with other physical therapies such as electrical stimulation to increase the effectiveness of pain management.
Another advantage of ultrasound therapy is the versatility of the method. By choosing to use different applicators, physicians can treat any part of the body, from the lower back to the elbow. In addition, physicians can choose between continuous or pulsed ultrasound therapy to treat deep tissue or superficial areas and treat trigger point pain.
Since there isn’t a cure for arthritis, the role of physical therapy is to decrease pain and increase a patient’s ability to function fully in their daily lives, while also managing the symptoms of their disease. Ultrasound therapy is a powerful tool to use in both the short and long-term maintenance of arthritis and its associated symptoms.
Pacific Arthritis Care Center is a group rheumatology practice based in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. If you have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or feel as though you may be at risk of arthritis, consider discussing your treatment options with our experienced physicians. Call 310-297-9221 to schedule your appointment today.