Arthritis is the most common joint disorder in this country, affecting millions of Americans and causing pain, swelling, and discomfort that can interfere with work and leisure activities. If you have arthritis, your doctor may recommend physical or occupational therapy as part of your care. NewYork-Presbyterian’s rehabilitation specialists work as part of your healthcare team to help relieve your arthritis symptoms and restore your mobility and independence, enhancing your quality of life.
A Team of Arthritis Experts
Your rehabilitation medicine doctor (physiatrist) leads an integrated team that includes physical and occupational therapists who apply the latest advances to design a program of care that meets your needs.
Getting You Moving Again, Comfortably
We understand that arthritis can turn routine tasks such as buttoning a shirt or going down a flight of stairs into a challenge. Our therapists choose exercises that can help you regain mobility, strength, and flexibility in your arthritic joints. You may receive:
- Physical therapy. Physical therapists use a variety of techniques to help you get moving, reduce your pain, restore your function, and prevent disability. Many of our physical therapists are certified by the American Physical Therapy Association as orthopedic clinical specialists. Your physical therapist will show you what to do during each session, but it is important for you to do “homework” exercises to fully benefit from the treatment.
- Occupational therapy. Occupational therapists help you refine the skills of daily living, such as taking care of yourself, getting dressed, writing, and regaining balance and coordination. Occupational therapy can be especially effective for people with arthritis in the fingers, hands, arms, and shoulders. You will receive guidance on exercises you can do at home to ensure you receive the full benefit of your therapy.
- Aquatic therapy. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center offers therapy in a warm swimming pool that provides a comfortable place to perform exercises and activities that may be too difficult to do outside of the water. Aquatic therapy includes relaxation exercises, mobility exercises, strengthening, stretching, and walking exercises that many people with arthritis find helpful.
- Medications. A number of medications—including anti-inflammatory drugs taken orally and applied to the skin—can help reduce the joint pain caused by arthritis.
- Injections. Our physiatrists are skilled in the use of joint injections of corticosteroids (such as cortisone) and hyaluronic acid gels, guided with ultrasound to ensure accurate placement, to improve joint function and reduce pain. Your doctor will let you know if joint injections may be useful as part of your overall treatment plan.
- Regenerative therapies. Our doctors are evaluating regenerative therapies, which promote the body’s own healing abilities, for the treatment of arthritis. We are specialists in the use of these regenerative treatments for chronic tendon, ligament, muscle, and joint pain, and are now actively researching their effectiveness for arthritis care.