Anybody who lives with osteoarthritis can tell you how much cold weather can intensify the pain the condition causes, especially in the hands. Your clients living with osteoarthritis face unique challenges, but as a physical therapist, you may be able to direct them in ways they will be able to find relief. Remember that patient education is one of your goals.
Physical therapy CE may be the key to ensuring that you know exactly how to assist your clients. PDH courses ensure that you understand your client’s needs and wishes.
So, what can you share with your patients to help them find relief this winter? Here are a few tips.
1. Wear Warm Clothing
Certain fabrics are much more conducive to staying warm than others. Fleece and wool are two popular options for warmth. For osteoarthritis patients, gloves and wool socks are especially helpful to combat pain in the hands and feet.
Dressing in layers is another helpful tip for maintaining a comfortable temperature. While buttons can be difficult to manage with arthritis, velcro is easier to manipulate.
2. Consider Electric Heating Options
An electric room heater or electric blanket could be a real source of relief from pain for clients who are indoors most of the day. Staying cozy becomes a top priority when cold, stiff muscles and joints ache.
3. Use Heating Pads
One of the first things you may learn in physical therapy CE is how to use temperature to treat pain and discomfort. A heating pad or hot compress can increase blood flow to the affected part of the body, making patients feel less stiff.
4. Take Pain Relief Medications
Medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are often helpful in relieving the aches and pains common with osteoarthritis. Acetaminophen, like Tylenol, reduces pain but not inflammation. Ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are helpful because they work to reduce both pain and inflammation. A doctor will help a patient determine which type of medication is right for the situation.
5. Consider Using Helpful Devices
Braces, canes, and splints make it easier to get around for those who have painful joints. Not only do these devices help deter pain, but they can also prevent injury associated with osteoarthritis. You may choose to incorporate some of these materials into your physical therapy sessions to improve movement.
6. Encourage Physical Therapy Participation
Physical therapy involves exercises and activities that promote pain relief. Resistance training is one great way to build up muscle. Spin classes and tai chi may prove useful for osteoarthritis patients too. Learning which techniques work best for clients with osteoarthritis provides you with the opportunity to be helpful.
For many clients, weight loss that may accompany physical therapy is an additional relief because of the pressure it relieves from the joints.
As a physical therapist, you might especially appreciate the PDH physical therapy course entitled “Osteoarthritis in the Hands.” This physical therapy CE course will shed new light on this topic that is so important to many of your clients. In the class, you will learn about everything from the etiology and pathology of the condition to its diagnosis and treatment. Contact us to learn more about all the Physical Therapy Courses we offer.