Arthritis is one of the nation’s most common causes of disability, limiting the activities of nearly 23 million Americans. For people who seek physical therapy for arthritis and related conditions, symptoms like joint pain and fatigue can linger outside of the treatment setting.
Research shows that physical activity can be a good adjunct to physical therapy to help reduce pain and improve function, mood, and quality of life. Fortunately, there are evidence-based physical activity programs—available in community settings such as recreational facilities and senior centers—that are safe for people with arthritis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified six physical activity programs shown to be effective for patients with arthritis and related conditions that limit mobility. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) supports the use of these evidence-based programs to help extend the benefits of physical therapy. NACDD has partnered with CDC and APTA to develop tools and resources that connect physical therapists and their patients with information about these programs.
These resources are available on APTA’s arthritis page. They include downloadable fact sheets for physical therapists that describe each program and its evidence base, as well as a reference list and links to find out where programs are offered. A printable decision aid lists each program format, instructor qualifications, patient baseline activity levels, and more—all in an easy-to-read table to help physical therapists find the right program for their patients. Patient-friendly handouts are also available on APTA’s MoveForwardPT.com.
We encourage physical therapists and other providers to access, print, and share these resources with colleagues and patients. Stay tuned for more updates about our outreach efforts to physical therapists and our ongoing partnership with APTA!