The body’s joints are quite fascinating. They allow us to perform virtually every movement or task throughout each day, so it’s important to keep them healthy and pain-free. But what happens when a joint becomes swollen and/or painful? There are several possible causes of joint swelling and pain, some of which may surprise you. Let’s learn about joints, what can cause them to become swollen, and how physical therapy can help.
Why Joints Swell
Joints are what connect two or more bones in your body; they’re found in your ankles, feet, knees, hips, arms, hands, and other parts of the body. Sometimes the tissue surrounding and cushioning the joints becomes swollen as fluid accumulates in that tissue, which causes the swelling as well as pain and stiffness. There are quite a few conditions that can cause joint swelling, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis: RA is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack its own healthy tissues. These often include the membranes that line the joints; RA causes fluid to build and joints to swell.
- Osteoarthritis: The most common form of arthritis, which is caused by the natural deterioration of joint cartilage as the years pass. When the cartilage is gone, bone-on-bone contact is the result, leading to swelling, pain, and stiffness.
- Gout: We all have uric acid in our bodies, which is created when some substances of food are broken down. Uric acid generally dissolves in the blood and leaves the body through urination. However, it can build up in the joints and form needle-like crystals; these lead to joint swelling and pain.
- Ankylosing spondylitis: This is a chronic disease that causes joint inflammation.
- Lupus: A swelling-inducing autoimmune disorder.
- Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid.
- Sarcoidosis: This disease causes clusters of inflammatory cells to collect in the body.
- Tendinitis: Inflammation of a tendon.
- Injuries: Fractures, dislocations, torn tendons, and torn ligaments can result in joint swelling.
If you’re experiencing joint swelling, it’s important to see your physician for a diagnosis. While it may simply be a structural issue, you don’t want to let a potentially serious condition go undiagnosed.
Treatment of Joint Swelling
In many cases, swollen joints can be treated with the RICE formula (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) as well as over-the-counter pain medication (though you never want to overdo that). However, some cases may require more intensive treatment. Physical therapy is an effective way to relieve many of the symptoms of swollen joints while also maintaining the joint’s health.
Come see us at Physical Therapy NOW in Irving for your swollen joints, and we might treat your condition with any of the following:
- Aqua therapy: This form of PT allows you to perform gentle exercises in the water without putting full weight on the painful joints. So, you get the benefit of being able to move the joints and rebuild the tissue without having the joints bear too much weight.
- Joint mobilization: For joint pain and swelling in your feet or ankles, a tool such as a balance board can be an effective way to improve mobility while breaking and loosening internal scar tissue that can cause pain.
- Stretching: Stretches not only heal tissue, but they also aid in the prevention of arthritic joint stiffness.
The bottom line is you don’t have to live with joint swelling and pain!
Swollen Joints & Physical Therapy
At Physical Therapy NOW in Irving, we’re ready to help alleviate your joint pain and swelling so you can get back to doing the things you love and live a comfortable life. Call us today at (214) 225-0291 to set up your initial appointment.