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Susan Murphy, M.D. Answers Questions On Arthritis

Susan Murphy, M.D. Answers Questions On: Arthritis

What does physical medicine and rehabilitation offer people suffering from arthritis?

One of the biggest misconceptions people have about arthritis is that nothing can be done to help with the pain. We offer expert evaluation and a range of pain management therapies, including medications, joint injections, and trigger-point injections.

We also work closely with a multidisciplinary team of specialists. This includes nutritionists – who help patients with weight loss, which can really decrease the pain of arthritis in the hips and knees – and physical therapists, who train patients in appropriate exercise programs. Muscle strengthening, for example, helps to support damaged joints, while aerobic fitness helps to raise the pain threshold.

Don’t rheumatologists usually treat arthritis patients?

Rheumatologists focus more on managing inflammatory autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. They don’t typically see patients with non-immune-related conditions like osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia.

Is it difficult for people with arthritis to exercise?

The key is to slowly work up to it. People with arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other painful conditions are often reluctant to exercise because of the pain. So we start out very gently with, for example, some water walking and very gradually increase the intensity of the exercise. The important part is to move. As the saying goes, exercise is our best defense against aging.

How often do arthritis patients typically need to see their physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist?

Our arthritis patients usually see us every three to six months. That’s how long the pain injections typically last and how often we need to evaluate patients before we prescribe medication refills or changes.