Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common chronic condition of the joints. The condition is sometimes termed joint degeneration disease. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, but it occurs most often in knees, hips, lower back and neck.
In a normal joint cartilage covers the end of each bone. Cartilage provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint motion and acts as a cushion between the bones. In Osteoarthritis, the cartilage breaks down causing pain, swelling and problems moving the joint.
As Osteoarthritis progresses the bones affected can breakdown resulting in bone spurs. This bone can chip off and float within a joint, causing increased pain and decreased movement. In the final stages of OA, the cartilage wears away and the 2 bones can rub on each other, leading to joint damage and more pain.
WHAT CAUSES OSTEOARTHRITIS?
Osteoarthritis was believed to be caused by the “wear and tear” of joints over time, scientists now view it as a disease of the joint. Some of the factors that contribute to the development of OA are:
- Genes: Various genetic traits can make a person more likely to develop OA.
- Weight: Being overweight puts additional pressure on hips and knees. Many years of carrying extra weight can cause the cartilage that cushions joints to break down faster.
- Injury and overuse: Repetitive movements or injuries to joints (such as a fracture, surgery or ligament tears) can lead to osteoarthritis.
TREATMENT FOR OSTEOARTHRITIS
Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease. There is no cure, but treatments are available to manage symptoms. The goals of long-term management of OA are:
- Managing the pain, stiffness and swelling
- Improving joint mobility and flexibility
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Getting enough of exercise
The most important factors to achieving these goals are:
One of the most beneficial ways to manage OA is to get moving. The most appropriate exercise are those that are low impact and controlled such as:
- Execise Bike
- Supervised gym rpogram
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Excess weight adds additional stress to weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, knees, feet and back. Maintaining a healthy weight can help people with Osteoarthritis reduce pain and limit further joint damage.
Slow, gentle stretching of joints may improve flexibility, lessen stiffness and reduce pain. Exercises such as yoga and tai chi are great ways to manage stiffness.
Your physiotherapists can provide a range of treatment options for pain management including:
- Ways to properly use joints
- Heat and cold therapies
- Range of motion and flexibility exercises