Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition that directly affects joints. In a normal joint, a layer of cartilage covers the ends of the bones. Cartilage helps to protect the ends of the bone, acts as a shock absorber and allows smooth movement at the joint. In OA, the cartilage breaks down and becomes thin. This leaves the ends of the bones unprotected, and the joint loses its ability to move smoothly. OA mainly affects people above 45 years of age but can develop in a younger population.
The arthritic process at a joint can be the result from normal wear and tear, anatomical deformities, injury, surgery, repetitive trauma such as road running with poor biomechanics, being overweight, having a family history, and other joint specific issues such as congenital subluxation of the hip. It is most common in the knee, hip, fingers, big toe, and lower back. People with arthritis will often complain of joint pain being worse in unsettled weather such as we are currently experiencing.
OA involves the joint cartilage becoming soft and fibrillated whilst the underlying bone shows cyst formation and sclerosis. These changes are most marked in the area of maximal loading and leads to the growth of bony spurs into the joint surface called osteophytes. This leads to inflammation of the tissue around a joint, deterioration of ligaments, and loss of joint range of motion. Symptoms certainly very from person to person but the most common symptoms are pain and stiffness of the joints. These feelings are usually worst after prolonged immobility and can affect the ability to do normal daily activities such as walking, climbing stairs, and opening jars. Additional symptoms may include clicking, grating and grinding sensations.
Cartilage and joint changes as a result of the OA process cannot regenerate. Treatments for OA very depending on which joint is affected and the severity of the condition. Your SquareOne physiotherapist is expertly trained to assess for the causes of joint specific OA and can implement an appropriate rehabilitation program to improve pain, function, and prevent further joint surface deterioration. The various treatments for OA include; a weight loss program if warranted; an exercise program tailored to strengthen the surrounding musculature so the muscles can absorb more of the load and stress; pain relief medications such as paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and injections; walking aids such as sticks and wheeled walkers; and if symptoms have become extremely debilitating, joint replacement surgery.
Should you be suffering from joint pain and are looking for accurate diagnosis, further advice, education, guidance, and rehabilitation, contact SquareOne Physiotherapy to book a consultation.