Osteoarthritis (OA) has been described as the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people globally.
What is Osteoarthritis?
It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over a period of time. Osteoarthritis can damage any joint, the main affected joints are hands, knees, hips, ankles and lumbar spine.
What Causes Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis was long believed to be caused by the wearing down of joints over time. However, now it can be viewed as a disease of the joint. The below can increase your risk of developing OA:
- Age – the risk of developing OA increases with ageing because as we get older, our bones, muscles and joints are also ageing
- Joint injury – a break or tear, can lead to OA in later years
- Overuse – using the same joints repeatedly can result in OA
- Obesity – extra weight puts more stress on a joint and fat cells promote inflammation
- Weak muscles – joints can get out of the right position when there’s not enough support
- Genetics – people with family members who have OA are more likely to develop OA
- Gender – women are more likely to develop OA than males
Key Symptoms of Osteoarthritis:
- Pain or aching in the joint during activity, after long duration of physical activity or at the end of a busy day
- Joint stiffness usually occurs first thing in the morning or after resting for a long period of time
- Limited range of motion – this can go away when movement begins
- Clicking or cracking sound when a joint bends
- Swelling around a joint
- Muscle weakness around the joint
- Joint instability or buckling (Knee giving out)
How Can Physiotherapy Help?
Physiotherapy treatment provides effective results with even severely damaged arthritic joints. The first step is to embark on a thorough assessment for treatment prescription as each case of Osteoarthritis is different. Treatment may comprise of:
- Joint mobilisation
- Exercise prescription to develop an individualised plan of exercises with the goal to improve flexibility, strength, coordination and balance to achieve our client’s optimal physical function
- Dry needling
- Manual therapy
- Proper education on Osteoarthritis
- Activity modification
- Joint loading
Our muscles, ligaments, bones, tendons and cartilage love to be loaded (correctly) – which is how we overcome imbalances and achieve change!
Our job as Physio’s is to achieve optimal loading to provide physical function. We prescribe the correct amount depending on the severity of each client’s Osteoarthritis, too much load can cause your tissues to break down faster than they can recover. Too little load and it won’t be effective enough to make a difference in your tissues.