Joint pain is a common complaint of people over 50. In many cases, the problem is joint degeneration, or wear and tear.
“For seniors who suffer from degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis, there’s no perfect therapy in terms of medication,” says Dr. Cooray. “Healthy weight and physical therapy play a vital role in pain relief.”
Physical Therapy for Arthritis
Physical therapy is often overlooked by seniors with pain, and Dr. Cooray says that’s a mistake.
“Physical therapy is underutilized. It’s important for seniors to realize that their pain may be improved with muscle strengthening, a proper exercise regimen, and other modalities (heat, ice, ultrasound, massage, etc) that may be done during physical therapy ” says Dr. Cooray “The idea is not to work through pain, but to strengthen muscles to reduce joint pain and improve range of motion.”
Dr. Cooray treats many seniors suffering pain from osteoarthritis and often recommends non weight bearing exercise regimens such as a skilled aquatic programs (water therapy).
“Exercising in the water puts less strain on the joints,” says Dr. Cooray. “For seniors with knee pain I also encourage them to try orthopedic insoles in their shoes to help relieve pressure on their knees.”
If you’re interested in physical therapy, check with your insurance about your coverage. Some insurance plans also offer gym benefits.
In addition to Osteoarthritis, Dr. Cooray also sees patients suffering from other types of arthritis such as goutand rheumatoid arthritis just to name a few.
“There are many types of arthritis and it is important to be diagnosed with the correct form because the treatments are quite different,” says Dr. Cooray
Rheumatologists Treat More than Just Joint Pain
Dr. Cooray has been practicing rheumatology for seven years. Besides joint pain, Dr. Cooray treats more than 120 other illnesses which fall under her specialty. Many of these disorders involve diseases which affect the immune system and cause inflammation such as lupus, vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels)and myositis (inflammation of the muscles). She also treats osteoporosis in conjunction with an endocrinologist.
"There are a lot of programs available in the community –exercise and otherwise-- that I try to connect seniors with to improve their quality of life."
Dr. Cooray encourages all of her patients to follow good, healthful living practices.
“One thing that I really advocate is a healthy diet and to maintain a healthy weight,” says Dr. Cooray. “I try to treat the whole person and we work very closely with the primary care doctor and other specialists taking care of the patient.”