Osteoarthritis is a common condition that affects up to 20% of people in North America at some point in their life. This health issue causes a loss of mobility in the joints, pain and general discomfort in and around affected joints. Here, our Stittsville physiotherapists explain how we can treat osteoarthritis and help you live with this condition.
While it may be more commonly referred to as just "arthritis," osteoarthritis is actually the most common variant of the umbrella term of arthritis conditions.
Our physical therapists can work with you and your primary care physician to coordinate our care to your pain management needs, fitness goals and hopes for your long-term quality of life through treatments and prescribed exercises.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the inflammation of the joints in the body, most commonly load-bearing joints such as the knees and hips. This inflammation is caused by the deterioration of the tissues and structures that help to keep joints healthy and functioning properly.
It's estimated that up to 1 in 5 people in North America may develop osteoarthritis at some point in their lifetime and, while osteoarthritis doesn't require surgery to treat, joint replacement procedures are possible treatments for this condition if it grows to a severe stage.
This condition affects the day-to-day life of someone with it and, because of this, day-to-day management strategies are important to ensuring osteoarthritis can be adequately managed.
Some of the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- Increased bone growth around an affected joint
- Pain during activity that isn't relieved by rest
- Joint stiffness after lying or sitting down for a long period
- Joint stiffness, especially after getting out of bed, which may ease in about half an hour
- Joint pain when that part of the body experiences pressure
- A creaking, crunching or cracking joint noise when they are moved
How can physiotherapy treat osteoarthritis?
Research shows that moderate or light activities like biking, swimming and walking provide a much greater benefit to people with osteoarthritis than any discomfort that may come with the. Activity can not only help to preserve the function of joints affected by osteoarthritis but also helps to maintain your general well-being. However, it's important that you carefully plan any physical activity you do engage in - overexerting yourself can have an outsized impact on your body and may cause you to lose mobility in the long term!
That's where our Stittsville physical therapists come in.
While the initial diagnosis of osteoarthritis will need to come from a doctor, once you are certain that is the condition that is affecting your joints, there is plenty that a physical therapy centre can do for your discomfort and well-being.
Firstly we will conduct an assessment of your condition, symptoms and needs, including:
- Observe and record what activities are causing your difficulty
- Examining and assessing your movement to determine the extent of your symptoms
Based on these, we will design an individualized exercise program designed to address your needs and improve your movement and mobility. Some of the most common interventions that we use are:
- Recommend lifestyle changes that will support your long-term health
- Manual therapy and adjustments of your movement to improve your mobility and help to alleviate some discomfort in affected joints
- Develop and teach you a home exercise program to improve your strength, encourage your good health and support your movement
- Provide suggestions for modifying your movement and adjusting your work and living spaces to lessen the strain on your joints
What exercises are prescribed to treat osteoarthritis?
The exercises that your physiotherapist will prescribe to you if you have osteoarthritis will be entirely dependent on your specific case. This can including what joints are affected, how far along in the condition's progression you are, and more, our physical therapists will prescribe different exercises to target individual needs.
With that being said, the following are some of the most commonly prescribed kinds of exercises at our Stittsville physiotherapy clinic:
- Flexibility and Range of Motion Exercises - Including hamstring and hip flexor stretches
- Strength and Resistance Exercises - Including bridges, wall squats and step-ups
- Endurance and Aerobic Exercises - Including walking or swimming