Osteoarthritis (OA) is common condition that affects your joints. Joints become damaged by ‘wear and tear’. The cartilage covering the end of the bones gradually becomes thin and roughens. The body then lays down more tissue to repair the joint forming bony spurs called osteophytes. The spurs reduce the space in the joint and the joint can no longer move as smoothly as it should. Common symptoms of OA include joint pain, stiffness, reduced range of movement, swelling and weakness. Often standing up, climbing stairs and other functional tasks can become slow and laboured.
How can physiotherapy help to manage osteoarthritis ?
There are many physiotherapy interventions that can help to manage your symptoms such as, acupuncture, manual therapy, electrotherapy, exercises and self-management advice. Often you can experience ‘bad’ days and ‘good’ days and we have few pointers to help you manage your symptoms .
- Taking pain killers or anti-inflammatories are useful to ease your pain
- Ice and/or heat packs can help manage pain and swelling
- Using a walking stick can maintain balance and provide support for walking
- Gentle movement exercises help relief joint stiffness
- Strengthening exercises help to maintain strength and function
- Pacing your activity is very important. Doing too much can cause irritation at the joint and increase your symptoms, whereas doing too little can cause increased stiffness, pain and weakness in the muscles. Doing ‘little and often’ is a good tip and keeping up with gentle aerobic exercise like walking and swimming is advised.