World Physiotherapy Day 2023 – Arthritis

Friday 8th September is World Physiotherapy Day, and this year’s theme focuses on arthritis and how physiotherapy forms an important part of your overall treatment.

NDIS physiotherapy options

There are many forms of arthritis that can affect many people in different ways. Some forms of arthritis may be covered by NDIS and therefore funds your supports. Examples of these may be juvenile arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The NDIS will look at the impact your arthritis has on your daily living activities.  As physiotherapists, we would look at your overall goals that you want to achieve and how we can support you to reach these goals.

This may include looking at preserving joint function and mobility, looking at activity management, gym or hydrotherapy programs, and looking at equipment to assist you to reach your goals.

Tips to help you manage arthritis

Many people experience all types of arthritis, and although it may not be your NDIS registered diagnosis, Courtney, Kern Physiotherapist shares some tips to help you manage:

Reach out to your health team

Your health team can support you in many different ways, often with perspectives and ideas that may be difficult to discover on your own

Your doctor and pharmacist can assist you with your medications, changing how you may experience your day

If arthritis is your registered diagnosis with NDIS, your allied health team may be at Kern (occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech pathology, etc.) and can assist you with building your strength, accessing equipment and aids, developing your routine to maximise your day and exploring ways to give you the best quality of life

Build your strength

It is important to maintain and build strength for everyone, but particularly individuals living with arthritic conditions. This is due to the pain and stiffness they experience in their joints. Having increased strength of the muscles around their joints, takes load/stress off of these joints, reducing any wear and tear, inflammation, pain and stiffness

Don’t over do it

Whilst it is important to maintain your physical strength, we need to ensure that we do this in balance with rest. As arthritic conditions are inflammatory-based conditions, completing too much work or placing too much stress on the body can cause exacerbation of this inflammation, resulting in pain and physical limitations

Excessive physical activity can sneak into any part of life, from completing too much cleaning around the house to spending too much time chasing after your pets/children/grandchildren. Ensure to take time for yourself or engage in activities that give your body a rest

Some social activities that also rest parts of your body can include:

  • Board games and card games
  • Watching a movie
  • Having a coffee/beverage or a bite to eat
  • Electronic games
  • Arts and crafts

Look at your diet

Diet can play a huge role in all our body processes, including our inflammatory processes. Consult your doctor or dietitian to see if you could change your diet to reduce your symptoms

Meet others like yourself

Whilst each experience is unique, you are not alone in your experience and can get great support from others with conditions similar to your own. Sharing with like-minded people can provide amazing mental health benefits, giving you people to talk to who fully understand what you are experiencing, as they are experiencing something similar. This support is invaluable and is something that your health practitioners and close friends/family are often unable to provide

Getting support from others in similar situations also means you will hear unique perspectives, with the potential for learning a new tip or trick that could change how you go about your day, improving your quality of life

Plan your medications as able

If you have plans during the day that will impact how your arthritis feels, you can plan your medications to suit this, under the guidance of your medical practitioner

For example, if you are going to the park with your grandkids and would like to play active games with them, you may want to take your medications just before going so that you can put your best effort into this playtime

Another example is if you know you are being extra active over a period of the day, you may want to push your medication back to enable you to have greater relief during your periods of rest, such as when you go to bed

For physiotherapy sessions, you can discuss with your physiotherapist and medical team as to how you’d like to time your medications – Whether you would like to take them just before the session so that you can complete exercises with greater benefits, or if you would prefer to take them after your session to prevent any discomfort you may experience from fatigue

Plan out your morning

Due to the pain and stiffness individuals with arthritic conditions experience when first waking, it can be beneficial to plan out your morning to get the best start possible to your day. This can include:

Having a warm (not hot) shower

Warmth can often improve symptoms for those living with arthritic conditions, with cold weather being a significant barrier to participation in activities of interest. Start your day with a warm shower to chase away the morning chills!

Do some gentle movement

Multiple factors, including cooler night-time temperatures, swelling and decreased movement during sleep periods, can cause pain and stiffness when individuals with arthritic conditions first start to move in the morning.

Take it slow and complete some gentle exercises, like ankle circles or bending and straightening your knee, to allow your body to slowly wake up (and limber up) to the day. This will assist in lubrication of the joints and movement of any swelling, helping to reduce any stiffness.


As mentioned above, medications can play a big role in your pain experience. If you are experiencing difficulties with morning periods, discuss this with your medical practitioner to see if you could make a change in medication or timing of your medication, to better suit your daily needs and your individual experiences with your condition.

Prep the night before

If you know you’re often stiff in the mornings but have an important morning commitment, prepare as much as possible the night before. This can include putting your clothes, personal hygiene and grooming items within a close proximity. You could pre-make your breakfast, choosing a breakfast that is easy for you to consume (e.g. toast rather than a cereal with spoon if a spoon is difficult to hold).

Use a timed heater or electric blanket in the cooler months (or as needed)

If the cold affects you, especially in the morning, put your bedroom heater or bed electric blanket on a timer to start warming up your bed/room before your alarm goes off!

Pace yourself

Give yourself and your body time to wake up, warm up and get going for the day. Try not to complete too many high-fatigue activities at the start of the day, to allow yourself a better chance of being able to complete the activities you prefer later in the day.

If you want to know more about how physiotherapy can assist you or your loved one, contact Kern Health on 1300 122 155 or email us at

Written by Courtney Baxter, Kern Allied Health