An X-ray is a picture of your joint or your bone, but it doesn’t often tell us much about what is causing your pain. We know this because patients can have really degenerative and arthritic joints on X-ray, but don’t have pain. The opposite is also true; you can have a normal X-ray and be in excruciating pain. This is because there is little to no relationship between the severity of arthritis and pain.
Patients often come to our office very dejected after being told by the doctor that they have arthritis, as if they have been sentenced to constant pain for the rest of their days. Nothing could be further from the truth. In many cases, the onset of pain is recent but the arthritis has been slowly coming on for years to decades, so why now must they be saddled with constant pain? This myth of pain equals arthritis is something that PT’s work very hard to dispel with patients on a daily basis.
Most arthritic conditions can be managed for quite a while very successfully before any type of surgery or joint replacement is necessary. In fact, often times we can manage arthritis with exercise and never even have to take medication or injections to make it better. This is why I say, “we can’t improve your X-ray, but we can decrease your pain”.
Physical therapists and patients have been successfully treating arthritic joints for decades. Just because we have newer imaging and surgical techniques does not mean that the treatment has to be changed. See a physical therapist about your joint arthritis and let them show you how to manage the pain and improve your overall function.