Osteoarthritis is the wearing and gradual degradation of the cartilage lining over the bony surfaces in a joint. Cartilage usually lines the bones to cushion the bones and make movement easier. Osteoarthritis is most commonly seen in the hip, shoulder, knee, and finger joints. It often is associated with pain and progresses with ageing. However, the pain of osteoarthritis is not just determined by the amount of degradation of the cartilage. As with other chronic pain conditions, the pain and dysfunction will vary between people and having a biopsychosocial understanding will help in treatment.
Osteoarthritis varies amongst people and can be aggravated by too little movement or too much stress on the joint. It can be diagnosed by the clinical history and examination of the joints. X-rays are not considered necessary as the diagnosis can usually be made from the clinical history and the X-rays do not help in determining the treatment. X-rays are usually required only if there is some concern about more serious pathology.
Assessment and treatment of osteoarthritis is best personalized by taking a whole person approach and developing a plan with the guidance and knowledge from an experienced physiotherapist. Management should consider the patients goals, lifestyle and understanding of osteoarthritis.
Medication may be necessary initially to help with pain relief, but should not be considered a solution or method used for ongoing management. Depending on the patient, the next step in treatment is progressing to an active self-managed exercise program.
In extreme cases, where pain cannot be controlled and joint mobility is so affected that it is severely interfering in the quality of life, joint replacement surgery may be considered. Arthroscopy to an osteoarthritic knee, where the joint is “cleaned and trimmed” is not considered helpful and orthopaedic surgeons are now recommending active exercises for pain relief and maintenance of joint function rather than surgery.
Get as much understanding about osteoarthritis from reading and health practitioners. Ask question of treating practitioners to clarify facts.
Active self-management is the treatment of choice.
Obesity may be a contributor to osteoarthritis.
Understand the roll of pacing activities to increase your fitness.
Maintain normal function and be aware when your body is instinctively compensating to avoid pain.
Relaxation and mindfulness is helpful.
David Fidler at Active Physiotherapy has the knowledge and experience to develop a plan and guide you through the process to actively self-manage successfully.
Call Active Physiotherapy for further advice or to make an appointment.