physiotherapy osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA)

How Physiotherapy can help me?

Physiotherapy is an important part of OA management, and is instrumental in teaching patients to: properly use joints; exercise correctly in both motion and flexibility exercises as well as cardiovascular exercises.

Moreover, it is an effective way to prevent or reduce falls that oftentimes lead to fractures and other serious health consequences.

Read below about osteoarthritis and let us know if we can help you.

We answer the questions you frequently ask.

How do I know if I have osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is identified and diagnosed by radiological imaging. Your GP may ask for an X-ray of affected joints.  The common X-ray findings of osteoarthritis include loss of joint cartilage, narrowing of the joint space between adjacent bones, and bone spur formation

Is osteoarthritis common?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is very common. It is actually the most common chronic condition affecting our joints. OA affects about 3.5% of the population globally. Around 80% of patients aged 65 and over will have some evidence of OA on radiographic imaging.

Does it hurt?

Not necessarily, but it can. At least 50% of patients do not have any symptoms. OA may cause, however, inflammation in joints and some patients’ quality of life may be greatly affected.

What are the signs of osteoarthritis?

Pain and stiffness and the most common signs of osteoarthritis.

Pain is oftentimes generated by mobilization, increases with fatigue and decreases with rest. Pain occurs in the morning or after a period of inactivity.

Mostly, there’s no overnight pain. The intensity of pain is variable. Sometimes it’s dull and tolerable, other times it’s very heavy with short peaks. It can be stimulated by cold, trauma and fatigue.

Limitation of movement. With osteoarthritis patients may notice that it is difficult to move the joints as freely as before. With time, the range of movement of affected joints may be significantly reduced.

Morning stiffness is also common and can last even up to 30 minutes.

With osteoarthritis your joints may become quite noisy. This is very common too. You may hear cracking, scraping and sounds coming fromyour joints for example when standing up or getting in bed.

Swelling around an affected joint may be present,  but it is usually mild

What joints can it affect?

 OA can affect any joint including knees, hips, lower back and neck, small joints of the fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe.

What happens within affected joints?

 In normal joints hyaline cartilage covers the end of each bone. Hyaline cartilage provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint motion and acts as a cushion between the bones.

In OA, the cartilage breaks down, causing pain, swelling and problems moving the joint. As OA worsens over time, bones may break down and develop growths called spurs.

Bits of bone or cartilage may flake off and float around in the joint. In the body, an inflammatory process occurs and cytokines (proteins) and enzymes develop that further damage the cartilage.

In the final stages of OA, the cartilage wears away and bone rubs against bone leading to joint damage and more pain.

Are exercises helpful?

Physical exercise is very helpful and we would like to encourage you to undertake exercises at least 3 times a week. It needs to be tailored to your needs and your condition though.

physiotherapy for osteoarthritis

What are the other health consequences?

OA leads to reduced muscle strength (particularly in those muscles around the affect joint), decreased flexibility, weight gain, limitation in the ability to do daily activities and often compromised mobility.  

Where can I find more information?

Physiotherapy with Physio-Soton

NHS information

Unit 3C at 3 Hursley Road, Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh, SO53 2FW

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