Arthritis is a word which we may come across often, signifying how common it can be across the population. Arthritis is an umbrella term for a range of conditions which affect the joints, causing pain in the joints and potentially other symptoms like stiffness and swelling.
Some forms of arthritis include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Juvenile arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Gouty arthritis (gout)
Osteoarthritis is by far the most common form of arthritis. It is a condition which affects the whole joint, including the bone, cartilage and ligaments and is thought to be a result of a joint working overly hard to repair itself.
In a normal healthy joint, cartilage provides a cushioning between two joints, allowing a smooth gliding surface for joint motion. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage breaks down resulting in the bones rubbing against one another.
Osteoarthritis tends to be more prevalent in the hips, knees, lower back and neck, the fingers and the base of the thumb and big toe, although it can affect any joint in the body.
The risk factors for developing osteoarthritis include a previous, significant injury to the joint, being overweight or obese, repetitive movements with loading on the joint such as those associated with an occupation, and gender, with females more likely than men to develop osteoarthritis.
The management for osteoarthritis is based on taking a holistic approach, with involvement from various health professionals. Our physiotherapists aim to assist with osteoarthritis by:
- Providing education and self-management strategies
- Prescribing an exercise program to help strengthen the muscles around the knee and effectively keeping the body conditioned without stressing the joints
- Modifying activities to reduce pain
- Providing advice regarding weight management
- Providing advice about supportive equipment e.g. braces
Our occupational therapists can assist by:
- Prescribing mobility and assistive aids
- Conducting an ergonomic assessment and activity modifications at home, work etc
- Prescribing joint protection strategies