Do you know someone who suffers from osteoarthritis (OA)?
Are you showing early signs of OA?
Fact #1 – According to the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare 1 in 11 Australians have OA that’s approximately 2.2 million people in the National Census 2017-18.
Fact #2 – 3 out of 5 people who have OA are female
Face #3 – There was a 38% rise in total knee replacements for osteoarthritis from 2005-6 to 2017-18
So it won’t come as a surprise when we say that osteoarthritis is the most common form of chronic disease we see in the Physio clinic.
With an aging population, osteoarthritis will continue to become more prevalent. Therefore, how we manage this becomes even more important.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition, where the surface layer of the cartilage slowly ‘wears away’ and degenerates over time. This affects the joint’s ability to absorb shock and as a result usually results with pain and dysfunction in weight bearing joints such as knees, hips and the spine. It can affect young people and over time is debilitating for Older Australians!
OA is caused by increased mechanical stress on a joint. This can occur from –
- Repetitive workloads
- Deconditioning and weakness
- Occupational & behavioural factors
- Postural changes
- Lifestyle choices – Diet, overweight, smoking, excessive alcohol
- Prior injury
Most common symptoms –
- Joint pain & swelling
- Chronic inflammation
- Joint stiffness
- Painful cracking, grinding, noisy clicking
- Pain after prolonged periods of being stationary
So, if it’s common and degenerative, what’s the good news?
The good news is that just because a joint had OA, doesn’t mean it will necessarily become painful. If it does become painful there are several things you can do to help settle the pain!
1. EXERCISE AND STRENGTHENING
This is the gold standard for treating OA.
The joint will absorb load better if there is adequate strength and mobility in the joint.
Therefore, doing the correct style of exercise will improve strength and reduce pain in the long term.
Your physiotherapist can help with identifying the best exercise to suit your needs!
2. LIFESTYLE CHANGES
OA can affect your quality of life, but it doesn’t have to.
Prioritising healthy choices like weight loss, increasing your low intensity exercise and limiting prolonged sitting, reviewing your diet, stress management, sleep quality and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol will help reduce the pain.
Your physiotherapist can also guide you on items which may help reduce pain such as supportive braces, pillows and advice on optimal lifestyle and exercise choices to aid in happier joints.
Pain relief can be used when required to reduce inflammation and get you moving again.
Seeing your GP about the medication that is right for you is important.
The most commonly prescribed medications include panadol osteo, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like Brufen or Mobic and stronger analgesics such as panadeine forte or Tramadol.
If you’re suffering from OA and want to get back to your best, then give us a call and we can start mapping out your best game plan!
I hope this post helps with understanding this common chronic disease problem and gives you a great starting point for great health!