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Osteoarthritis Physiotherapy

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of joint disease that results from breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bone. The most common symptoms are joint pain and joint stiffness.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting about 237 million people (3.3% of the world population). Among those over 60 years old, about 10% of males and 18% of females are affected.

Unfortunately It is the cause of about 2% of years lived with disability.

In Australia, about 1.9 million people are affected, and in the United States, 30 to 53 million people are affected. It becomes more common in both sexes as people become older.

osteoarthritis symptoms

Initially, symptoms may occur only following exercise, but over time they may become constant.

Other symptoms may include

  • joint swelling
  • decreased range of motion
  • when the back is affected, weakness or numbness of the arms and legs

The most commonly involved joints are those near the ends of the fingers, at the base of the thumb, neck, lower back, knee, and hips. Joints on one side of the body are often more affected than those on the other.

Usually the symptoms develop over some years. They can affect work and normal daily activities. Unlike other types of arthritis, only the joints are typically affected.

causes of osteoarthritis

Causes include previous joint injury, abnormal joint or limb development, and inherited factors.

Risk is greater in those who are

  1. overweight and obesity
  2. have legs of different lengths, or
  3. have jobs that result in high levels of joint stress

Osteoarthritis is believed to be caused by mechanical stress on the joint and low grade inflammatory processes. It develops as cartilage is lost and the underlying bone becomes affected.

As pain may make it difficult to exercise, muscle loss may occur.

Diagnosis is typically based on signs and symptoms, with medical imaging and other tests occasionally used to support or rule out other problems.

In contrast to rheumatoid arthritis, which is primarily an inflammatory condition, in osteoarthritis, the joints do not become hot or red.

osteoarthritis physiotherapy and hand therapy

Research studies have shown that physical exercise of the affected joint can noticeably improve long-term pain relief. Furthermore, exercise of the arthritic joint is encouraged to maintain the health of the particular joint and the overall body of the person.

Individuals with arthritis can benefit from both physiotherapy and hand therapy.

In arthritis the joints become stiff and the range of movement can be limited. Physical therapy has been shown to significantly

  • improve function
  • decrease pain
  • and delay need for surgical intervention in early to advanced arthritic cases

Exercise prescribed by a physiotherapist has been shown to be more effective than medications in treating osteoarthritis of the knee. Exercise often focuses on improving muscle strength, endurance and flexibility.

Physiotherapy intervention includes

We don't recommend patients take medicine or painkillers for long term due to risk of side effects as well as addictions, and for severe cases, patients may consider joint replacement surgeries. An artificial joint can last 10-15 years.

That being said, one of the best ways to treat osteoarthritis is prevent it entirely by being active, and you can exercise with us and our senior physiotherapists to prescribe osteoarthritis-specific exercises programs. If you already have it, then we can help to slow down the progress by managing it well.

Even if you require surgery, post-surgery physiotherapy will help you accelerate your progress to back to work, life and activities that matter to you.