Physiotherapy and Osteoarthritis
Our physiotherapists at All Ages Physiotherapy in Gympie are qualified to tailor an osteoarthritis treatment program to your needs
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a common form of joint degeneration that occurs with age and over years of general wear and tear. Between your joints there is a layer of cartilage, this smooth cartilage provides smooth movement. As you age, the cartilage gradually wears and instead of a smooth surface it becomes uneven, rubbery and patchy. As it wears it becomes inflamed and sore causing the symptoms you display.
How common is Osteoarthritis?
Research has shown that by the age of 70, almost everyone will show symptoms of OA. This does not necessarily mean that you will have large amounts of pain, it may just be minor symptoms. Under 55 OA is more commonly found in women rather than men, but once you reach 55 it is equally prevalent.
Am I at risk?
There are a few predisposing factors to developing OA which include:
Genetics – some people are just predisposed
Being Overweight – increased loading through ankles, knees and hips increases your chances of developing OA
Being Severely Underweight – Decreased bone mineral density due to decreased food intake predisposes you to OA
Jobs that require a lot of loading through the knees or repeated bending or lifting
High impact sports, esp those that require twisting and loading such as rubgy league or union.
High upper limb loading sports that require throwing also increase your chance of OA
OA vs Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones themselves become fragile and brittle. Your bones may fracture easier than normal bones and even minor falls may cause serious injury. This is not the same as OA as it is affection your bones directly and are often caused by your personal health, ie. Smoking.
Once you have OA, there is no cure. You can however control it and maximise your function by doing gentle weight-bearing exercises as outlined below.
Exercises for Osteoarthritis
Swimming or even walking in the pool are gentle low loading exercises that assist with strengthening the bones and muscles which will assist in decreasing the load through your joints, helping with your pain.
Lower limb strengthening exercises:
Gentle walking is a good eight bearing activity to increase muscle and bone density. Bike riding is another very good exercise to assist with, muscle and bone density but also keeping your ankle, knee and hip range of motion optimal. Strengthening the muscles at the front of your thigh is also very important and an individualised strengthening program can be prescribed for you by your physiotherapist.
Upper limb strengthening exercises:
Range of motion exercises are the first most important step of maintaining your OA. If you don't use it, you will lose it. General movements maintaining your joint range and integrity are just some of the exercises your should be performing.
If you have full range, you can add in gentle weights for endurance, which requires low loading and high repetitions. Gradually you can increase the weights and decrease your repetitions which will increase your muscle strength. To progress exercises and do specific tasks, you need to get an exercise program tailored you your individual needs by your physiotherapist.
Studies have shown that marathon runners knees do NOT degenerate any faster than someone who is sedentary. This does not mean to go out and start running marathons, this means that walking or moderate exercise in a straight line is good for you and the condition of your knees. Your knees were built to go in straight lines, so when you add in a twist or side step as in football, that's where a lot of the damage occurs.