What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis. Some people refer to it as degenerative arthritis.
What Causes Osteoarthritis?
Every day, “wear and tear” steadily damage your joints. The joints show signs of wear: joint cartilage becomes thin, extra bony spurs grow in response to joint stress, and joint motion lessens. In advanced stages, osteoarthritis can be painful, functionally limiting and depressing.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for osteoarthritis. But the good news is that there are some better ways to manage your osteoarthritis and slow the degeneration process. Better arthritis management will result in making your life easier and more comfortable. Physiotherapy is a significant part of making your life living with osteoarthritis less painful, comfier and keeping you active.
Research has shown physiotherapy to reduce the pain and disability associated with arthritis, especially knee osteoarthritis.
Seek the professional and helpful advice of your physiotherapist to start enjoying life again today!
Your Osteoarthritis Diagnosis
X-rays are the most straightforward test to confirm osteoarthritis. An experienced practitioner will have an excellent idea of whether you have osteoarthritis when they examine you.
How Does Osteoarthritis Affect Older People?
As you age, most people develop some degree of osteoarthritis. Our joints’ wear and tear may occur due to ageing, injury, prolonged microtrauma, overuse of bones, or excess weight. Permanent bony changes occur and will exist even when there are no painful symptoms.
Your degree of suffering varies. The most common is mild or intermittent pain provoked by episodes of increased use or minor trauma. Whereas some people may be symptom-free, others may suffer continuous disabling pain.
The joints most commonly affected are the weight-bearing joints: hip, knee, ankles, feet and spine. However, osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body and is common in the hands and shoulders. Severe cases may require surgical treatment, but most will respond very well to physiotherapy and medication prescribed by your doctor.
You can suspect osteoarthritis if you experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- joint pain or tenderness that intermittently returns
- stiffness, particularly early morning stiffness
- joint swelling or deformity
- noticeable joint heat and redness
- joint movement is painful or difficult.
Please consult your doctor or physiotherapist for definitive diagnosis and individualised treatment recommendations.
General Arthritis Information
Rheumatoid Conditions - Overview
Osteoarthritis - Overview
What is Physiotherapy Treatment?
Physiotherapists help people affected by illness, injury or disability through exercise, manual joint therapy, soft tissue techniques, education and advice. Physiotherapists maintain physical health, allow patients to manage pain and prevent disease for people of all ages. Physiotherapists help encourage pain relief, injury recovery, enabling people to stay playing a sport, working or performing daily living activities while assisting them to remain functionally independent.
There is a multitude of different physiotherapy treatment approaches.
Acute & Sub-Acute Injury Management
Hands-On Physiotherapy Techniques
Your physiotherapist's training includes hands-on physiotherapy techniques such as:
- Joint Mobilisation (gentle joint gliding techniques)
- Joint Manipulation
- Physiotherapy Instrument Mobilisation (PIM)
- Minimal Energy Techniques (METs)
- Soft Tissue Techniques
Your physiotherapist has skilled training. Physiotherapy techniques have expanded over the past few decades. They have researched, upskilled and educated themselves in a spectrum of allied health skills. These skills include techniques shared with other healthcare practitioners. Professions include exercise physiologists, remedial massage therapists, osteopaths, acupuncturists, kinesiologists, chiropractors and occupational therapists, to name a few.
Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled professional who utilises strapping and taping techniques to prevent and assist injuries or pain relief and function.
Alternatively, your physiotherapist may recommend a supportive brace.
Acupuncture and Dry Needling
Many physiotherapists have acquired additional training in acupuncture and dry needling to assist pain relief and muscle function.
Physiotherapists have been trained in the use of exercise therapy to strengthen your muscles and improve your function. Physiotherapy exercises use evidence-based protocols where possible as an effective way that you can solve or prevent pain and injury. Your physiotherapist is highly skilled in prescribing the "best exercises" for you and the most appropriate "exercise dose" for you, depending on your rehabilitation status. Your physiotherapist will incorporate essential pilates, yoga and exercise physiology components to provide you with the best result. They may even use Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy so that you can watch your muscles contract on a screen as you correctly retrain them.
- Muscle Stretching
- Core Exercises
- Strengthening Exercises
- Balance Exercises
- Proprioception Exercises
- Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy
- Swiss Ball Exercises
Biomechanical assessment, observation and diagnostic skills are paramount to the best treatment. Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled health professional. They possess superb diagnostic skills to detect and ultimately avoid musculoskeletal and sports injuries. Poor technique or posture is one of the most common sources of a repeat injury.
Aquatic water exercises are an effective method to provide low bodyweight exercises.
Sports physio requires an extra level of knowledge and physiotherapy to assist injury recovery, prevent injury and improve performance. For the best advice, consult a Sports & Exercise Physiotherapist.
Women's Health Physiotherapy is a particular interest group of therapies.
Not only can your physiotherapist assist you in sport, but they can also help you at work. Ergonomics looks at the best postures and workstations set up for your body at work or home. Whether it be lifting technique improvement, education programs or workstation setups, your physiotherapist can help you.
Plus Much More
Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled body mechanic. A physiotherapist has particular interests in certain injuries or specific conditions. For advice regarding your problem, please get in touch with your PhysioWorks team.
What is Osteoarthritis?Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis, often referred to as degenerative arthritis. The joints show signs of wear: joint cartilage becomes thin, extra bony spurs grow in response to stress, and joint motion lessens. In advanced stages, osteoarthritis can be painful, functionally limiting and depressing.
What is the Osteoarthritis Cure?Unfortunately, there is no cure for osteoarthritis. But the good news is that there are some better ways to manage your osteoarthritis and slow the degeneration process. This improvement will result in making your life easier and more comfortable. Physiotherapy is a significant part of making your life living with osteoarthritis less painful, comfier and keeping you active. Research supports physiotherapy. Physio can reduce the pain and disability associated with arthritis, especially knee osteoarthritis. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2016-096458 Seek the professional and helpful advice of your physiotherapist to start enjoying life again today!
Your Osteoarthritis DiagnosisX-rays are the most straightforward test to confirm osteoarthritis. An experienced practitioner will have an excellent idea of whether you have osteoarthritis when they examine you.
How Does Osteoarthritis Affect Older People?As you age, most people develop some degree of osteoarthritis. Our joints' wear and tear may occur due to ageing, injury, prolonged microtrauma, overuse of joints, or excess weight. Permanent bony changes occur and will exist even when there are no painful symptoms. Your degree of suffering varies. Whereas some people may be symptom-free others may suffer continuous disabling pain. The most common is mild or intermittent pain provoked by episodes of increased use or minor trauma. The joints most commonly affected are the weight-bearing joints: hip, knee, ankles, feet and spine. However, osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body and is quite common in the hands and shoulders. Severe cases may require surgical treatment, but most will respond very well to your doctor's physiotherapy and medication.
Osteoarthritis SymptomsYou can suspect osteoarthritis if you experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- joint pain or tenderness that intermittently returns
- stiffness, particularly early morning stiffness
- joint swelling or deformity
- noticeable joint heat and redness
- joint movement is strenuous.
Osteoarthritis TreatmentFor advice on your osteoarthritis diagnosis, self-help tips or the best treatment of your osteoarthritis, please contact your physiotherapist or trusted health care professional.
Arthritis TreatmentIf you think that there’s nothing you can do about arthritis? Great news! You can act right now. Some of the ideas here are simple, one-time actions. Others are the first steps toward longer-term goals. All can directly or indirectly improve your health, outlook or pain levels and generally make life with arthritis a little easier.
Get an Accurate DiagnosisIf you have pain, stiffness or swelling in or around a joint for more than two weeks, it's time to see your doctor, physiotherapist or health professional. These symptoms can develop suddenly or slowly. Only a well-trained health professional doctor can tell if it's arthritis. But "you have arthritis" is not a diagnosis. Ask for a specific diagnosis of the type of arthritis you have. There are more than 100 types – including osteoarthritis (the most common type of arthritis) and rheumatoid arthritis – each of which has different treatments. Getting the right treatment requires getting the right diagnosis.
Protect Your JointsAvoid excess stress on your joints. Use larger or stronger joints to carry things. Assistive devices can make tasks at home and work easier. Look for them in the kitchen (rubber jar openers, reachers), bedroom (zipper pulls, buttoning aids), bathroom (tub bars, handrails) and for other areas of your life. Look for products with the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease-of-Use Commendation. These are items that are comfortable, easy-to-use or have user-friendly packaging. Also, staying close to your recommended weight helps relieve damaging pressure on hips and knees.
Get MovingExercise helps lessen pain, increases range of movement, reduces fatigue and helps you feel better overall. A well-rounded workout routine for people with arthritis includes flexibility exercises to increase motion, aerobic exercises to improve endurance, decreased fatigue, and strengthening exercises to improve muscle fitness. Your physiotherapist can show you range-of-motion exercises and strengthening exercises that are good for arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation also offers general exercise, aquatic, Tai Chi and walking programs. The key is to have a regular exercise program. We commonly recommend that adults do a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (brisk walking, gardening) a week or 1 hour and 15 minutes each week of vigorous aerobic physical activity (jogging, aerobic dancing). Whether your activity is moderate or vigorous, the goal is to keep moving.
Lose WeightLose weight. You won’t just look better. You’ll feel better, too. Why? Every extra kilogram you carry around translates to added stress to your knees and hips. Excess weight can mean more pain, no matter which form of arthritis you have. It can also contribute to and aggravate osteoarthritis while increasing your risk of gout.
Bone UpStock up on your favourite source of calcium. A diet rich in this important mineral can help decrease your risk of osteoporosis. Besides, inflammatory arthritis conditions accelerate bone loss, so getting the optimum calcium intake is critical. Recommended daily doses of calcium are 1,000 mg for adults 50 and younger and 1,200 mg for adults over 50. If you don’t like drinking milk – or want some variety – try consuming more milk products, such as yogurt, cheese and ice cream. Or add powdered milk to puddings, gravies, shakes and other recipes. Other good sources of calcium: broccoli, salmon (with the bones) and kale.
Do Drugs – the Right WayTake your medication just as your doctor prescribes. If you’re tempted to stop because you feel it’s not working or believe it’s causing side effects, call your doctor first. It can take weeks – or even months – for a medication's full benefits to become apparent, and some side effects ease over time. Stopping medication abruptly may not only cause you to miss out on its benefits – in some cases, but it can also be downright dangerous.
Begin with BreakfastGrab some fruit, fibre (like oatmeal) and a tall glass of water instead of coffee. Like you’ve always heard, a healthy breakfast is a great way to start the day. Without it, the bad results can range from higher cholesterol, lower energy and overeating throughout the day.
WalkPlease choose your favourite spots (indoors and out) and make plans to walk them at least once a week. Walking is the ideal exercise for most people with arthritis. It burns calories, strengthens muscles and builds denser bones – all without jarring fragile joints.
Sit, Soak and SootheA warm bath before bed can relieve muscle tension, ease aching joints and help you get a good night’s sleep.
Treat Your MusclesFind a remedial massage therapist and treat yourself to a good rub down. The benefits vary from person to person but may include decreased pain and stiffness associated with arthritis, increased circulation, energy and flexibility, eased muscle spasms, and improved body’s sleep and immune functions. Mentally, massage can also decrease stress and depression. Besides, it just feels good. Be sure to find a skilled massage therapist working with people with arthritis, as some massage elements may not be appropriate for you.
Stretch Your LegsStretching is a simple way to keep joints and muscles flexible. It relieves stress and can help enable you to maintain your daily activities. Try this to keep your calf muscles strong and flexible: Stand two feet from a wall, with your toes pointed inward, palms against the wall. Keeping your knees straight and feet flat, lean forward onto your hands without bending at the waist. Feel your calf muscles pull and extend. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then gently push away from the wall. Repeat.
Take the PlungeExercising in the water can build strength and increase motion range, while the water’s buoyancy reduces wear and tear on sore joints. Some many aquatic programs and exercises are great for people with arthritis. Try water walking, for example. Water provides 12 times with the air resistance, so you’re getting a great workout without the wear and tear on your joints.
Ice it!When joints are hot and inflamed, applying something cold can decrease pain and swelling by constricting blood vessels and preventing fluids from leaking into surrounding tissues. Our favourite ice pack: a bag of frozen peas or corn that can be moulded to the shape of your body.
Quit SmokingIf only for a day, and then another … and another. Smoking can increase your risk of complications from lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It can increase your risk of developing psoriasis and can predispose you to osteoporosis. Also, if you have to undergo joint surgery, smoking can prolong your recovery. Arthritis drugs can also be less effective for smokers and smoking can contribute to sleep problems.
Enjoy Your ExerciseTake the work out of working out. Sign up for a class that makes exercise fun – country line dancing, ballroom dancing, swimming, yoga or tai chi. Some have specific benefits for people with arthritis. Tai chi, for example, specifically reduces the pain and impairment for people with severe knee osteoarthritis. The slow, graceful exercise – originally a Chinese martial art – also reduces stress and can improve balance. Yoga strengthens and relaxes muscles stiff from arthritis, as well as helps with weight loss programs. For individual advice, we urge you to seek the opinion of your physiotherapist or trusted health professional.
Can Your Physiotherapist Refer for X-Rays and Scans?
Yes. Physiotherapists can refer you for many types of medical investigations including X-Rays, Ultrasound Scans and MRI scans.
The full Medicare rebate applies to most X-rays ordered by physiotherapists. Not all Radiology clinics bulk bill, so out of pocket expenses may be payable.
Medicare does limit certain investigations based upon the item number and whether your referrer is a GP, Medical Specialist or Physiotherapist.
Your physiotherapist is happy to discuss with you the pros and cons of specific tests.
Physiotherapist Prescribed Exercises
Why Do Physiotherapists Prescribe You Exercises?
The prescription of exercise appropriate to you and your injury or fitness level is one of the many professional skills of a physiotherapist. Whether you have suffered an acute injury, chronic deconditioning, or recovering from surgery, the correct exercise prescription is essential. That's why your physiotherapist's knowledge and skills will personalise your exercise dose.
Your physiotherapist not only is educated in injury diagnosis but also exercise physiology or the science of exercise. This training enables your physiotherapist to assess and diagnose your injury, plus also to prescribe injury, fitness or age-appropriate activities targeted to you now.
What Exercises Should You Do?
Your exercises shouldn't be painful. Would you please be cautious with some overzealous exercise prescribers who believe that the more painful the activity, the better? This isn't true—notably, the frail, immunosuppressed, deconditioned or post-operative person.
You'll find that your physiotherapist will thoroughly examine you and prescribe a series of exercises suitable for you in quantities that will not injure you further. Please seek an exercise expert, such as your physiotherapist, when you are planning your rehabilitation.
What Happens When You Stop Exercises?
Without some simple exercises, we know that specific muscles can become weak. When these supporting muscles are weak, your injured structures inadequately support and predispose you to linger symptoms or further injury. You can also over-activate adjacent muscles that may lead to further damage.
It is also essential to understand that even if you are "in good shape", you may have crucial but weak localised or stability muscles. When you have an injury, you should perform specific exercises that specifically strengthen the muscles around your injury and the adjacent joints. Your physiotherapist will assess your muscle function and prescribe the right exercises specific to your needs.
The exercises prescribed will usually be relatively simple, and do not require any special weights equipment, and can be performed safely at home.
Would You Stop Your Daily Prescription Drugs?
Your physiotherapist will prescribe your individualised dose or exercises. They are using their professional expertise to optimise your exercise dose. Would you stop taking your regular blood pressure medication because you were too busy or didn't think it worked? We would hope not!
Exercise, when prescribed by an expert such as your physiotherapist, should be treated as your recommended dose. Just like when you don't take your blood pressure medication, you can't expect the drugs to work if you don't take them as prescribed by your health professional.
So, next time you skip your "exercise dose", remember that you are not putting your health first. If you have any questions, please get in touch with your Physio Works physiotherapist for your best care.