Athlete's Care Ottawa Blog 

How Can Physiotherapy Help With Arthritis?

By Athlete's Care on November 15, 2023

How Can Physiotherapy Help With Arthritis?

Many clients who come to our Ottawa physiotherapy clinics experience symptoms of arthritis in its many forms. Still, many people also ask the question: since the condition is progressive, can physiotherapy really help?

The answer is yes. Physiotherapy can help you manage symptoms and improve your quality of life as part of a multi-faceted treatment plan. Here’s a look at how.

Benefits Of Physiotherapy For Arthritis

After a thorough assessment by your treating physiotherapist or other sports medicine specialist, a range of options and goals for improvement will be suggested and discussed. That evaluation will include elements such as ease of movement, basic physical condition, among others.

Expertise & Advice

Along with specific treatment options, your physiotherapist can give you the benefit of their expertise and advice. That may include issues such as correcting posture imbalances, lifestyle elements, and straightforward advice such as how to pace your activities and modify them to avoiding overusing an arthritic joint.

  • Example: A cold pack used on the joint can help to reduce inflammation and pain, however it can also reduce circulation in the area if it’s left on too long – which works against healing.

Your physiotherapist can give you practical advice you can use everyday.


When you have arthritis, are feeling in pain and fatigued, exercise may be the last thing on your mind. But, staying active helps keep you mobile. It’s that simple.

  • Exercising in the water can be a good option, since it works various muscle groups, and does not involve bearing weight on the joints.
  • A customized exercise regimen will help you target the areas that will benefit your condition the most.
  • Strength training is an important part of an arthritis exercise regimen, along with stretching and flexibility exercises.

Strong muscles support joints in a balanced way, and avoid putting too much stress on areas with arthritis. An exercise regimen that’s been customized to your current condition will keep you mobile longer.

  • It will help to reduce pain levels;
  • Movement keeps joints as flexible as possible 

Keeping your joints moving as much as possible, while also avoiding overuse, is your best approach. In some cases, walking aids or a brace may be a good option.

They will also look at any barriers to your recovery, which may include other medical conditions as well as other issues. They’ll help you not only devise an exercise regimen, but advise you on how to correctly perform them for the maximum benefit.

Rheumatoid arthritis

In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, which is an autoimmune condition, causes painful joints and notorious morning stiffness. Physiotherapy can help in a number of ways.

  • The painful symptoms of RA can be lessened by regular exercise.
  • The everyday function of joints can be recovered and improved.
  • The American College of Rheumatology recommends moderate-intensity and weight-bearing exercises.
  • The exercise can help reduce the overall damage to smaller joints such as wrists and ankles, as well as bone loss.

Understanding your illness, and its progression, will help you set everyday goals as well as adjust your lifestyle in areas that will help.

If you live with arthritis, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Ottawa physiotherapy, chiropractic and sports medicine clinics today for a consultation. 

Which Should I Choose: Physiotherapy or Massage Therapy?

By Athlete's Care on September 11, 2023

Which Should I Choose: Physiotherapy or Massage Therapy?

The services of our Ottawa physiotherapists or massage therapists are often both offered to our clients as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Over the last decades, massage therapy has gained in recognition to become a treatment option of choice for many of our clients, alongside physiotherapy.

In some cases, the two options overlap to a certain extent when it comes to the conditions either can help. But, the approach of the two disciplines differs. Here’s a look at both professions and what they can offer their clients.

What do they do?

Massage Therapy

A registered massage therapist or RMT will manipulate and knead the soft tissues of your body, which may be muscles, connective tissue, ligaments, tendons, and even skin. They vary the pressure and type of movement according to the area and the overall goals, be it recovery from injury or ongoing issues.

The benefits of massage therapy have been proven by clinical testing. They include:

  • Reducing stress;
  • Loosening tight muscles;
  • Reducing or even eliminating pain in the affected area;
  • Aids in relaxation;
  • It can boost your immune system.

Massage therapy is offered to clients as part of a treatment package, and can be used for a variety of conditions, including:

  • Injury recovery;
  • Chronic pain;
  • Cancer;
  • Heart disease;
  • Digestive problems;
  • Fibromyalgia;
  • Among others.

Massage therapy may be part of a long-term wellness program, in other words, without targeting a specific illness, injury or condition.


Physiotherapists typically help their clients after an injury, or in the case of an illness or condition that affects their musculoskeletal system. They can help:

  • Restore the function of injured joints and other structures;
  • Maintaining/improving muscle ability;
  • Get back to their normal as soon as possible.

A physiotherapist can review medical imaging such as x-rays in their evaluation of your condition, as well as physically examining the injured or affected areas of muscles, joints and bones. Your Ottawa physiotherapist can act as your primary caregiver, depending on the situation.

They may work with clients after sudden injuries, before and/or after surgery, or to address an issue such as chronic back or neck pain. They may also work with people who live with an illness that affects their mobility, and with aging clients whose mobility and movements are likewise impacted.

  • They can plan a customized exercise plan to target your condition and issues;
  • Muscle massage;
  • They may use a variety of devices that may stimulate muscles and nerves;
  • Joint manipulation and stretching;
  • Evaluation and advice on posture and gait (walking).

If you are considering either physiotherapy or massage therapy, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Ottawa clinics today for a consultation. Our physiotherapists, massage therapists, and other sports medicine specialists are ready to help.


Lower Back Pain: What Can Be Done About It?

By Athlete's Care on July 27, 2023

Lower Back Pain: What Can Be Done About It?

At our Ottawa physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics, lower back pain is a common complaint. It’s a condition that will affect about four out of five Canadians over their lifetime. Most of the time, it gets better in a month or so with home treatment only. However, sometimes, it can be a chronic condition, and gets in the way of your everyday life.

Lower back pain can become debilitating, and interfere with sitting, standing, and normal activities of everyday life. Here’s a look at some of the causes and treatments available.

Finding the cause

Treatments depend on a number of factors, most importantly, the root cause. Sometimes, it can be as straightforward as eliminating a bad habit.

Various diagnostic tests may be ordered, such as an MRI to locate herniated discs or fractured bones, blood tests for infections, and nerve testing (EMG or electromyography) to view the functionality of nerves and muscles.

There are many different possible causes; here are some of the most common:

  • Wear and tear – age, time, and certain occupations will simply wear down the complex structure that makes up the lower back, where the spine and hips come together.
  • Injury – that can include a sudden movement, blow, car accident or other trauma that can damage soft tissues.
  • The spine – compression, bulging discs, and other issues can cause pain.
  • Myofascial pain syndrome – a term for conditions where there is no recognizable cause for pain or muscle weakness.


Problems with posture and an imbalanced gait can cause pain in the lower back as well as other regions of the body. Your Ottawa physiotherapist will assess your posture and gait as part of your diagnosis, and an ergonomic analysis of your work area if applicable, and will determine if they are contributing to your issues.

Sometimes, relieving chronic lower back pain will be a matter of:

  • Improving posture and learning to replace bad habits with good;
  • Appliances such as shoe inserts or customized footwear to correct physical imbalances;
  • Rearranging a work station to provide for a natural alignment of back, hips, and limbs.

If your lower back pain is mild...

If lower back pain is mild, and doesn’t interfere too much with sleeping, sitting or other daily activities, you can take some effective measures at home. That includes:

  • Heat: a hot shower, heating pad or wrap, or even a damp cloth heated briefly in your microwave can provide pain relief;
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that you can get without a prescription can help, including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, etc.) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).

When it’s not

If the pain is more than those simple measures can help, you should contact your Ottawa physiotherapist or other sports medicine for help.

Your Ottawa physiotherapist or other sports medicine specialist can offer you a range of treatment options if the first line of defence is ineffective, or where the causes are more complex.

  • Cortisone: an injection at the affected area can help in cases where pain radiates down your leg. It may reduce inflammation, and can help decrease or even eliminate pain, but the effects only last a month or two in a typical case.
  • Medical Acupuncture: delivered by a trained professional, it has been effective in relieving chronic pain in some patients – ask your Ottawa sports medicine specialist if it might be right for you.
  • Massage Therapy: can loosen tight muscles, and increase blood flow to the region, which can reduce pain and help to promote healing.
  • Physical Therapy: a targeted exercise program can help you recover from injury as well as relieve chronic pain due to postural and imbalance issues.
  • Viscosupplementation: a treatment using injections of hyaluronic acid (HA) can be effective in cases involving osteoarthritis of the hips that can cause lower back pain.

Surgery is required in some cases, and usually involves relieving compression between spinal discs.

If you are experiencing lower back pain that is severe, or persists  beyond a week or so, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Ottawa physiotherapy, chiropractic and sports medicine clinics for a consultation today.



Avoiding Injuries At Home: A Checklist

By Athlete's Care on April 06, 2023

Avoiding Injuries At Home: A Checklist

Our Ottawa physiotherapists and other sports medicine specialists help many clients get back to their normal lives after an injury. While there is a broad range of therapies available, many soft tissue injuries are notoriously difficult to treat. An ounce of prevention, as they say, is worth a pound of cure. As the statistics show, out of all the types of accidents causing injury, including automobiles, the risk of getting injured at home, while doing things you do every day, ranges from more than 23% (18 to 64 years old) to more than 40% for those over the age of 65.

You let your guard down when you’re at home, and you relax. But, you shouldn’t relax when it comes to staying safe. Here are some guidelines to keeping your home safe from falls, spills, and other injuries.


  • Do you have a functional fire/smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector outside each bedroom, and in the main hallway?
  • Do all the detectors have batteries that you replace at least once every 12 months?

Trips and falls are among the most common accidents in the home, and elsewhere too.

  • Are your entrances, including the rooms in your home as well as the outside door, well lit?
  • Are the floors smooth and level, or do they have cracks and irregular surfaces?

If you have a home office, your Ottawa physiotherapist or chiropractor can also provide advice on how to make sure your furnishings are arranged ergonomically, to avoid injury from overuse and undue strain.

When it comes to floors and carpets, look for:

  • Uneven floors, cracks, exposed nail heads;
  • Rugs that don’t lay flat, are bunched or uneven;
  • Carpet edges that curl upwards.

Avoid putting cords under the carpet – tack them down along the wall or otherwise out of the way instead.

  • Do your stairs have functional railings that will support your weight?
  • Don’t forget to check the integrity and surface of the stairs, and any carpeting you have on them, too.

Fire and burn hazards may be located throughout the home.

  • Keep your hot water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  • Plug multiple appliances in different outlets.
  • Keep paper away from the stove and oven.
  • If a fire starts in your home/building, do you have an escape plan?
  • Check all the cords and cables you use for electrical appliances – are they whole and intact, or are there frayed areas?

There are appliances and gadgets that can make your home safer.

  • Rubber and/or non-slip mats for the bath and shower;
  • Grab bars for the shower or bath enclosure walls;
  • Two-way tape to secure small area rugs and mats.

A little forethought goes a long way towards keeping your home safe, and reducing your risk of injury.

If you have experienced an accidental injury, the dedicated staff at our Toronto physiotherapy, chiropractic and sports medicine clinics can help you get back to your normal. Call one of our Toronto physiotherapy clinics today for a consultation.


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