Osteoarthritis - Everything you need to know
Our Physio TB explains all about Osteoarthritis after participating in this year's "Octobones" walk which raises awareness about Osteoarthritis run by University of Sydney.
WHAT IS OSTEOARTHRITIS?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis affecting over 2.1 million people in Australia (2014-15). It is a chronic, degenerative joint disease characterised by deterioration of cartilage, stiffness, pain, and impaired movement. The most commonly affected joints are the knees, hips, hands, and spine.
It is a normal process of aging. However, there are several risk factors that may contribute to or accelerate the condition.
WHO IS AT RISK OF DEVELOPING OSTEOARTHRITIS?
Risk factors for developing OA are classified as modifiable and non-modifiable.
Modifiable risk factors include:
Lack of exercise
Repetitive use of joints (such as activities that involve repetitive kneeling, squatting, heavy lifting)
Non-modifiable risk factors include:
Gender (affects more females than males)
Age (more common at older ages)
HOW CAN OSTEOARTHRITIS BE DIAGNOSED?
A person can be defined as having OA based on signs and symptoms, structural changes (on X-ray or MRI), or both. One of our physiotherapists can perform a subjective and physical examination to identify and diagnose OA.
Your GP can also refer you for an X-ray to observe structural changes, but keep in mind the amount of joint deterioration seen on X-ray does not reflect the degree of pain or disability you may experience (so this is not always useful).
OA cannot be cured. However, the impact of the condition can be reduced by addressing the modifiable risk factors mentioned above. Management of OA includes medications to control pain and inflammation, physiotherapy, and weight loss. The final resort is surgery. However, conservative treatments should always be tried first to avoid risks associated with surgery, in addition to the long recovery process.
If surgery is undertaken, then medication, physiotherapy, and weight loss is still required. The management of OA is generally multi-disciplinary and can include your GP or rheumatologist, physiotherapist, dietitian, and psychologist to name a few.
HOW CAN WE HELP YOU MANAGE OR PREVENT OSTEOARTHRITIS?
One of our physiotherapists will assess your joints and prescribe you with an individualised treatment plan. The main aims of OA management are to:
Reduce load on affected joints
Each pound of weight lost will result in a 4-fold reduction in the load exerted on the knee per step during daily activities.
Losing 10% of body weight will improve pain by 50%
Improve or maintain mobility of joints
Increase and maintain strength
Your treatment may include manual therapy or dry needling, in conjunction with a tailored home exercise program.
Contact us today to discuss how we can help prevent or manage OA for you or a loved one