Physical Therapy & its Role in Vasculitis


Physical therapy is a necessary evil that can make a real difference in your treatment and recovery from it as well. I know it’s painful and it can be tough finding a kind, caring, and gentle therapist but they’re out there, I know one myself she comes here every other day for some physical therapy. She was here just yesterday in fact just in time to see all my US Pain literature and even took a bunch to hand out to her patients for me especially th more specific stuff on arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. She deals with many patients battling chronic pain so her being willing to hand out materials for me is a great thing to help spread awareness and the popularity/notoriety of the US Pain Foundation itself of which I am now an ambassador.

Speaking to my rheumatologist about physical therapy he suggested for patient like me who is rapidly deteriorating he would like pool exercise being done to relieve me of the normal weight of my own limbs and allow me to work my joints much better. I would do this but 2 years ago when I was slightly healthier we thought this was all migraine related so we tore our pool down, foolish decision now eh? Now we’re considering a swim spa but looking for a place we can actually see some models in person that way we can determine the quality and worth of some of the add-on’s they offer and what size we would require. We have a tall family I’m 6 ft 2” in. myself and my brother is 5 inches taller so we need a long area for resistance training and if they have a model with a hot tub attached that’d be fantastic to relieve my muscle knots I get so often from migraines and cluster headaches.

More importantly though a swim spa or pool gives one the ability to lift their arms and legs more easily allowing for more flexibility and less pain when attempting to do so. Just remember not to push yourself too far or else it might take you a while to climb that pool ladder if it has one and not steps with a railing. Rotate your ankles and wrists move your fingers and toes more easily underwater it should be much less painful. If it puts you in severe pain DON’T DO IT. That’s the golden rule to follow a little pain is expected I mean you are working on muscles and joints that don’t see as much use anymore! I recommend reading up on a few legitimate stretching techniques and doing those in the water to keep yourself limber. Only after stretching are you ready for exercise, the do whatever you can perhaps hold on to the kitchen sink/counter and march 10 steps with each leg, stretch your legs fully extended as far back as possible, and lastly swing your legs as high as you can to each side 10 times.

As you can see physical therapy plays a huge role in a number of rheumatological conditions not just vasculitis. However it is important for us to remember to keep moving depsite the pain. Don’t make a scene or whine about it I’ve done PT on days when I’m in 10/10 pain til it makes me vomit and even then sometimes I choose to continue. Listen this advice is invaluable and don’t EVER let anyone tell you otherwise YOU and ONLY you know you own body got that? I hope so because too many people take the pain as a queue to continue resting continually delaying PT for nothing just do it. It will only help you in the long run and if your physical therapist is any good they’re quite gentle especially with vasculitis patients in a flare up situation. Sometime I use my walker, rarely just my cane, most of the time now a wheelchair. I don’t care if it disappoints my physical therapist to see me using the wheelchair the fact is my IVIG isn’t working and the neuropathy is getting worse. So I take my own advice I know my body I know when I can and cannot make it through at least 15 minutes of PT and I know when I have to sit down for some oxygen or to break an incoming cluster headache which is exacerbated by my Churg Strauss Syndrome which is in stage 3, it’s a rare kind of vasculitis 1 in 1.5 million have it and there is no cure, so we have to fight every day. We fight for ourselves, for our loved ones, for our friends, for our family, for my dog, those of us with vasculitis are pain warriors as US pain would put it!

I hope these recommendations I’ve made help you out. It really really does help me a lot to get Physical Therapy done even on my worst days, I highly recommend an unheated pool unless the warmth soothes you, for me it makes my migraines related nausea that’s always there worse.I also hope you don’t have as hard of a time with physical therapy as I am, right now I fight hard every other day to defeat the pain that’s unlivable and excruciating. I only wish the doctors could feel it so they could sense my urgency through the calm smiling guise I put on for them.


9 thoughts on “Physical Therapy & its Role in Vasculitis

  1. I have had several forms of PT over the years, since my pain began. I had one who kept asking, every week I would go to her, if my headaches were any less. I found that frustrating because she expected some sort of magical recovery. I do find water soothing and freeing, but hot tubs make my headaches worse. It’s a toss-up because the warm water is good on the pain in the rest of my body. I bought myself a hot tub in the hopes of improving my pain and then I didn’t use it like I hoped. My mom loved it though and others are making more use of it ann me. Good luck in finding the best pool/hot tub combination for you and your conditions.

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