JointHealth™ express   October 4, 2018

A guide to living with osteoarthritis: Physiotherapy
Physiotherapy as a part of your osteoarthritis treatment plan

Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) recently published a special edition of JointHealth™ insight for Arthritis Awareness Month in Canada. This issue featured a guide to living well with osteoarthritis and included information on the disease, diagnosis and self-care. We have created this supplemental article to highlight the importance of physiotherapy in osteoarthritis (OA) treatment.

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association describes the profession as “anchored in movement sciences and aims to enhance or restore function of multiple body systems. The profession is committed to health, lifestyle and quality of life. This holistic approach incorporates a broad range of physical and physiological therapeutic interventions and aids”.

Unlike inflammatory arthritis, there are currently no medications to treat the underlying disease process of OA. For this reason, non-medication therapies such as those provided by a physical therapist are important to help slow or stop the progression of OA and help maintain function.

How can a physiotherapist benefit you?

Below are some of the ways that a physiotherapist can work with you to restore, maximize and maintain movement, flexibility and physical independence:
  • Assess your physical function, strength, mobility, balance and level of fitness
  • Diagnose and treat symptoms related to arthritis
  • Teach you specific exercises to improve your strength, balance and fitness as well as ways to reduce your pain
  • Provide specific treatments (manual therapy, heat, cold, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation -TENS-, ultrasound etc.)
How do I see a physiotherapist?

In most Canadian provinces, you do not need a doctor’s referral to see a physiotherapist at a private clinic. However, a referral is needed for publicly funded community physiotherapy clinics, such as the Mary Pack Arthritis Centre in British Columbia. Some health plans may require a referral in order for you to get reimbursement for physiotherapy services. If possible, see a physiotherapist who specializes in OA care or has experience treating patients with OA. Below are a few province specific websites to help you find a physiotherapist in your area, you can also refine your search to find individuals that specialize in arthritis care. 3 fab facts for happy joints – from a physiotherapist

For arthritis awareness month, we teamed up with physiotherapist and knowledge translation specialist Alison Hoens to learn some effective, at home techniques to help you move more, manage pain and feel better with OA. See the infographic here.

Listening to you

Thank you to a valued subscriber for suggesting we add this supplemental article on physiotherapy to our September 2018 JointHealth™ insight. As members or subscribers, your active participation in ACE publications and activities improves their relevance to all Canadians living with arthritis. To submit comments or feedback on this or any topic, please email

With sincere thanks,

Arthritis Consumer Experts