Health blog

What does arthritis pain feel like?

February 5th, 2024
what does arthritis pain feel like

You wake up ready to conquer your day, but your joints have other plans. You may feel a nagging discomfort, stiffness or even a throbbing sensation. What can be the culprit behind this irritating pain, determined to derail your day? It could be arthritis. Arthritis is a common condition that affects 53.2 million people. It’s characterized by joint pain, stiffness and inflammation. However, arthritis pain can cause other types of pain and issues. 

Exploring the world of arthritis and the pain it can cause

Arthritis is a degenerative condition that affects the joints. There are over 100 types of arthritis and its related conditions. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease. It affects the tissues in the joints and causes them to break down over time. There is currently no known trigger of OA. It affects more than 32.5 million people in the United States. As the condition continues, it can cause damage to the soft tissue in joints, pain, swelling and even a loss of motion in the affected joint. Avoiding arthritis pain can lead to other issues due to limited mobility. Limited mobility can weaken muscle tone and stress the affected joint. Anyone can get osteoarthritis; however, it is more commonly associated with people over 50. It is most common in women, who tend to develop this condition after going through menopause. 

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease caused by the immune system attacking healthy cells in the body by mistake. While it is associated with joints, it can also attack other tissue in the body like the lungs, heart and eyes. RA can cause fatigue, fever and weight loss in addition to inflammation and pain. The specific cause behind this condition is currently unknown, but some factors can increase your risk of developing RA, including age, gender, genetics, smoking and obesity. RA affects an estimated 1.5 million people in the U.S. Women are three times more likely than men to develop RA, and it typically starts between ages 30 and 60. 

Arthritis can cause pain that is:

  • Aching and dull.
  • Shooting, sharp and stabbing.
  • Throbbing.
  • Tight.

Some ways arthritis pain can be felt:

  • Deep in the shoulder joint.
  • Under your kneecap or behind your knee.
  • On the outside of your hip or in your groin area.

Physical therapy treatment options for arthritis pain

Arthritis doesn’t currently have a cure and can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Physical therapy can be an effective management option to help ease the burden on your life and help you lead a more comfortable and active life. Several physical therapy modalities can help manage this condition:

  • Soft tissue mobilization — Physical therapists use hands-on techniques like soft tissue mobilization to help improve joint flexibility by reducing muscle tension associated with arthritis. This can lead to the alleviation of discomfort in joints.
  • Joint mobilization — Physical therapists use another manual technique, joint mobilization, to help specific joints. The physical therapist uses gentle but firm movements to help improve mobility, reduce stiffness and alleviate discomfort in the arthritis-affected joints.

  • Aquatic therapyAquatic therapy can be the ideal therapy treatment for arthritis conditions. It harnesses the buoyancy of water to help reduce joint stress during exercises. It can promote improved mobility and increased flexibility while also providing pain relief. Aquatic therapy can allow you to do exercises that may be challenging on land.

  • Strengthening exercises — Physical therapists can design customized exercise programs to help target specific muscle groups. These muscle groups can be strengthened to help stabilize arthritis-affected joints. Improving strength and stability can help reduce the impact arthritis can have on your daily activities.

  • Stretching exercises — Stretching exercises can also play an integral part of arthritis management. Stretching exercise routines can help stretch muscles and connective tissue around affected joints. These exercises can help improve flexibility and joint range of motion and help address stiffness, which can be a common complaint with arthritis.

  • Dry needlingDry needling is a therapeutic technique performed by certified physical therapists. Thin, sterile needles are inserted into trigger points or tight muscle bands. This technique can help target and release muscle tension and can provide pain relief due to boosted circulation.

  • Electrical stimulation — Electrical stimulation provided by a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit can help stimulate targeted muscles. Low-level electrical currents can help improve muscle functionality and boost circulation in the affected joint. This can help provide pain relief and improve muscle strength. 

Find arthritis pain relief with Rehab Access Physical Therapy

The best approach to arthritis management can often be multifaceted but ideally includes physical therapy. Our Rehab Access team provides a patient-centered approach to managing your arthritis pain. Your physical therapist will design a personalized treatment program encompassing exercises, manual therapy and other innovative treatment techniques to address your unique needs. By incorporating evidence-based practices, our team of skilled therapists strives to provide you with care to empower you in your journey to find lasting improvement for a more comfortable and mobile life. 

Call us or request an appointment today to learn how Rehab Access can help your arthritis pain.