Physiotherapists and allied health professionals are targeting young people to help promote new biotechnological methods of managing arthritic pain in the lead up to Arthritis Awareness Week in May.

Arthritis is an umbrella term for more than 100 types of pain-related diseases. The most common forms include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis, which make up 95 percent of the Australian population who are diagnosed with arthritis. 

There are many misconceptions about arthritis—one of the biggest myths being that arthritis is a disease only surfacing in older people. It is a disease that not only affects the elderly, but also young people and toddlers. Arthritis affects more than 3.85 million Australians and increasing every year, with that number set to soar to 7 million by 2050. 

Arthritis is more common than people think and it is not just limited to the elderly, one in 10 Australians suffer from this disease. That is why health professionals especially physiotherapists are speaking up by saying, “Prevention is better than a cure”. 

According to musculoskeletal physiotherapist Yves Silveira, arthritis can be prevented. 

“It is essentially inflammation of the joint which leads to pain and restricted movement and there are ways to reduce these issues.” 

Yves Silveria gives his top five tips to helping prevent arthritis or managing its pain effectively.

1.     Heat and ice

2.     Portable physiotherapy

3.     Use rigid tape

4.     Sleep and meditation

5.     Exercise

Heat and ice help to reduce inflammation and swelling in the muscular area. The coldness causes the blood vessels of the muscle to constrict, which decreases the flow of blood and reduces the inflammation. It also helps modulate the pain receptors. When applying heat, the muscles relax and encourage the damaged tissue to heal. The heat also stimulates blood flow which in turn improves circulation, lubricates the joint and reduces stiffness.

“[Applying ice] should be done no longer than a 20-minute period and repeated throughout the day. When applying heat, it should be for 20-30 minutes long. Alternating between heat and ice therapies can reduce pain and loosen muscles simultaneously. Try using heat packs prior to exercising and ice packs afterward to get the most out of the therapy,” said Yves Silveira. 

Another alternative to reducing inflammation is known as portable physiotherapy, which is a much more technological method but can be costly. A device called PainPod is used by many Australians of all ages suffering from arthritis. PaidPod incorporates new technology to assist in pain management. The device contains frequency specific formulations and can act as a portable physiotherapist when you unable to see your healthcare professional. It is a safe alternative to taking antibiotics or medication by cutting off pain receptors of the swelling area that shoot to the brain. 

“The PainPod device works by delivering bio-electrical nerve stimulation pulses through the skin to the nerve endings in the affected area, blocking the pain signals from travelling to the brain. This can be particularly handy when dealing with pain in your physiotherapist’s out-of-office hours,” according to PainPod’s website. 

PainPod device. Photo: supplied.

Above all gadgets and technology, the most important thing to do is to be active. Arthritis is a degenerative condition and cannot be reversed currently. Physiotherapists are urging people—particularly younger ages—to get moving every day. 

“Let’s get active about movement! The thing we see a lot is that people are sitting down for long periods of time,” said Yves Silveira. 

What if you want to be active but you are unable to move due to knee pain or back pain for instance? Mr Silveira states that it important to have a good grasp on the idea of weight distribution and load. It is all about using the whole body as equally as possible to ensure we are not overusing certain muscles. 

“If you are putting more load on your body, then you may be more at risk of getting arthritis,” Mr Silveira acknowledged. 

“The more we can encourage people to move, the better we can be,” he added. 

If you notice prolonged pain in your muscles or swelling of an area, see your healthcare professional. 

For more information on arthritis go to https://www.arthritis.org

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