Osteoarthritis (OA) is very different for each person. People can experience periods of inflammation stiffness and a reduction in the ability to perform daily tasks. For some people this can be permanent.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for OA, it is very common in the population as it is the normal wear and tear of everyday life. Symptoms can normally be managed well with exercises and advice. However, in some cases you may need a pain- killing injection or surgery.
Physiotherapy can be very useful to advise you on the condition, how best to manage it and to try and delay the need for surgery for as long as possible.
How best to look after arthritic joints.
The main treatments for OA are: Lifestyle changes, medication management and supportive therapies; such as Occupational Therapy (OT) and Physiotherapy.
Probably the most important way of managing OA, again everybody has a different fitness level and this is where a Physiotherapist can guide the individual, but every exercise programme needs to have components of strength, balance and flexibility built in.
The common misconception is that “If I have pain and stiffness surely exercise will make my pain worse?” However, regular exercise can aid not only the strength in your joint, but can make the likelihood or flare- up more manageable and less frequent. There are obviously the other health benefits to exercise such as weight loss and stress relief.
It is important to learn to Pace yourself. Too much of the wrong type of exercise too soon can be very detrimental to your health. Again, if in doubt speak to a Physiotherapist for advice on this!
“No Pain No Gain” is a term often used, this is not accurate, you may experience a little discomfort during exercises especially in the initial stages, however pain during an exercise will probably mean that you are either not doing the exercise right or that the exercise is not right for you!
If you experience a little pain following exercise then this is acceptable and can be managed using PRICE, heat/ice and or medications.
People are also put off exercises because they do not have the time. Therefore, try to incorporate exercises into your daily life, when brushing your teeth, waiting for the kettle to boil, sat at your desk or even in the shower.
Remember that Quality Not Quantity is the most important thing. Check your form and technique, if in doubt check with your Physiotherapist.