Osteoarthritis – is it holding you back? What can be done about it?

To understand arthritis it helps to understand the condition. Osteoarthritis, simply known as arthritis, is a very common complaint, affecting virtually everybody to some degree. It affects all elements of a joint, but it primarily affects a type of cartilage known as articular cartilage that covers the end of the bones.

Over time the cartilage can become thinner. People will commonly refer to arthritis as “wear and tear”; however, this is incorrect because load through the joint is needed to keep the joint healthy. There is a balance of regeneration and degeneration within a joint. When there is more degeneration than regeneration the cartilage becomes thinner, and in some parts may disappear completely.

Why do people get arthritis?

There are many reasons why people get arthritis, some of these we can’t change such as gender and age. However; there are things we can change that we should focus on. Reducing body weight is probably one of the best things we can do. Remember this – every kilogram of body weight you lose equates to between 3 and 9 kilograms off the knee! If you ever hold 9 kilos you’ll immediately see why this is a good idea.

Being slightly more physically active is another great idea. I frequently hear people say “I can’t because it hurts too much.” The answer to this is to take pressure off yourself to exercise. If your pain is an 8/10,your effort should be no more than a 2/10. If your pain is a 2/10, your effort should be an 8/10.

Finally, maintaining and improving muscle strength and joint flexibility are crucial in managing the symptoms of arthritis. Resistance training has been shown to the best way to strengthen muscles and offload the arthritic joints.

How can physiotherapy help?

If you arthritis is holding you back from walking, playing sport or gardening etc, our physios can help. We have expertise in giving you exercises that are specific functional exercises that will strengthen your joints without aggravating your symptoms.  

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