Winter is a season of merriment, holidays and lots of fun filled indoor family time. It provides the much needed respite after a prolonged and intense summer. But like everything else, there is a flip side to this too – symptoms of certain health disorders get aggravated during this season.
Asthma, COPD, Arthritis (especially rheumatoid arthritis), pain due to injury, flu and cold are the most common names on this list. To keep the winter joyful and pain free, management of these diseases should be done properly and preventive steps should be taken to avoid any flare ups. Apart from the usual medications, physiotherapy too can play a crucial role in helping you deal with the symptoms of these disorders.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD)
COPD is a condition that is seen mostly in middle aged and older adults, especially those whose lung function is impaired. The most common cause of COPD is smoking and chronic asthma. It is a progressive disease that worsens over time. The treatment of COPD revolves around managing the disease condition as there is no permanent cure for this lung disorder. Physiotherapy plays an important role in treating this disease. It makes breathing easier, helps a person to remain active and relax as needed, and promotes the movement of the thorax (upper part of the body – mainly the chest area), shoulders and the neck. The different methods in which these benefits are reaped are:
- Postural Drainage
- Breathing Exercises
- Posture Correction
- Thoracic mobility exercises
While COPD and asthma have a lot of similarities, they affect different organs in the body. Unlike COPD, asthma affects the airways that lead air to and from the lungs. Asthma, though untreatable, can be better managed by adapting a healthy lifestyle, taking medications and undergoing physiotherapy. There are physiotherapists who specialise in respiratory physiotherapy. They can help you deal with your condition in the following ways:
- Breathing exercises for relaxed breathing
- Ensuring that your breathing is properly paced
- Managing symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that makes your joints swell and cause a lot of pain. Winter is a difficult time for those suffering from this condition as the cold weather increases your chances of having muscle spasms. It also restricts effective blood circulation in the affected areas. This triggers pain and discomfort, which if left untreated, can lead to disability in the long run. If you are facing this condition then take help from a physiotherapist immediately. He/she can help you in the following manner –
- Methods to protect your joint – Rheumatoid arthritis can restrict normal movement and even lead to deformities. You need to adopt specific measures to deal with these symptoms. Here are some that your physiotherapist could recommend:
- Splinting and Rest – If the condition is acute, it is best to let the joints rest to avoid any further damage. Keeping your body in a comfortable position is important in order to allow the affected area to heal. Often therapists use splints to position your joints in the correct manner. To ensure comfort, soft splints are preferred.
- Compression Gloves – These gloves are used for therapeutic purposes. They provide warmth and comfort to your hands, help in reducing the pain and improve your ability to grip objects. It also helps in keeping the swelling in check.
- Assistive Devices and Equipment – A lot of people, especially those who are engaged in occupations that require a high degree of mobility, often complain of problems with respect to the range of motion of various joints. Providing assistive devices and equipment like canes, walkers etc. are helpful in such cases.
- Massage Therapy – A massage is often used to improve flexibility, reduce swelling and pain. It is a very good option for you as it not only reduces the agony your joints are causing but also enhances your mood.
- Exercises for therapy – Exercising improves your physical capacity and helps you in staying healthy. Here are a few exercises that are prescribed by physiotherapists depending on the degree of severity of your condition:
- Range of Motion (ROM) exercises – to avoid contracture.
- Isometric exercises – to improve muscle tone when you have acute inflammation in your joints.
- Isotonic Exercise – to deal with minor symptoms of a disorder.
It is better to consult a physiotherapist to prevent any undue aggravation of the existing symptoms for the above disease conditions. A physiotherapist can advise you regarding the measures you should take to keep your ailments in check.