Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease of the joints. In normal joints, cartilage surrounds the ends of bones to provide cushioning and to help them glide smoothly. In people with OA the cartilage becomes worn and thin, therefore the joint can’t move as smoothly and can become painful and stiff. The most common joint affected by OA is the knee and the second most commonly affected joint is at the base of the thumb.
OA most commonly affects people over 45 but can found in younger individuals. The cause of OA is not always clear but factors that may predispose the development of OA include:
– Family history
– History of joint surgery
– History of joint injury or trauma
– Jobs or activities involving repetitive movements or high loads
Due to the impact on quality of life and high rates of disability due to osteoarthritis , it is beneficial to seek help early. Treatment aims to try to slow the progression of the disease and maintain an active lifestyle.
Physiotherapy can help symptoms of osteoarthritis by the following methods:
– Pain and swelling management
– Passive therapy, including massage, to improve joint movement
– Postural corrections
– Advice on footwear, pillows, bedding etc
– Activity modification
– Advice on suitable exercise to maintain bone and muscle mass
If physiotherapy is not suitable for your OA, you may be referred to a specialist for opinion. In severe causes surgical intervention may be necessary, for example total knee replacement or hip replacement.