Dealing with Joint Arthritis and the Power of Pilates

Arthritis literally means an inflammation of the joint, any joint in the human body. The treatment of arthritis can be divided up into conservative care and more invasive care which, as a last resort, could include surgery. Early stages of arthritis can be treated with over the counter medication like Tylenol, Advil or Aleve, but if that's not adequate than prescription anti-inflammatory medications may be necessary. Intra-articular steroid injections are another measure people use that's been known to make the difference. Acupuncture is another conservative measure you can try.

It's important to remember that body weight makes a big difference in whether or not your joints hurt. During a recent lecture Dr. Albert Reff explained, "If you suffer from knee pain being just one pound over weight makes your knees work harder, and this is very similar for the hip."

In addition to weight loss, physical therapy can be very helpful for stiff joints that are becoming stiffer because of arthritic changes and joint wear. According to Dr. Reff, "Pain results in inactivity which results in muscle atrophy and weakness. Physical therapy helps you regain motion and, most importantly, helps prevent the loss of strength that your muscles develop over time."

The Power of Pilates

Dr. Jill Whan is in charge of Dr. Reff's physical therapy facilities

For over ten years Dr. Whan has been working as a Physical Therapist that specializes in orthopedic conditions. Dr. Whan also understands knee injuries from firsthand experience. Years ago she suffered a torn ACL and nothing seemed to work at helping her recover until she discovered the Pilates Reformer. The Reformer is a piece of equipment in the shape of a bed-like frame that was invented by Pilates founder Joseph Pilates.

Dr. Whan explained, "what's unique about the Reformer is that it utilizes a set of springs that create different levels of resistance to help strengthen your muscles while also working on improving range of motion." 

For Dr. Whan doing Pilates on the Reformer helped repair her ACL and allowed her to get back to her athletic activities without having to have surgery. However, according to Dr. Whan, even though Pilates has proven to be effective, some patients are still intimadated by the thought of doing Pilates. Dr. Whan wants patients to know, "Pilates is easier on the joints because the exercises are done laying on your back and there's no risk of falling. It's a very pain free way to exercise." 

Dr. Whan recommends doing Pilates two to three times a week. And, for patients that do need surgery, they can usually start Pilates physical therapy two or three months after surgery. Pilates can also improve recovery time. According to Dr. Whan, "Pilates gets people back to doing daily activities quicker, and allows them to get back to athletic activities, like running, swimming and biking, faster."