Osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip and knee are two of the most common problems we see at Total Physiotherapy.
“2.1 million Australians were diagnosed with osteoarthritis in 2014/2015”
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
What is Osteoarthritis (OA)?
Osteoarthritis is a condition where the articular cartilage (lining of the bone joint surfaces) degenerates. The normal function of the cartilage is to protect the bone – when it deteriorates the individual will experience pain and stiffness. We think of it as joint dysfunction or joint -failure rather than “wear and tear” therefore physical activity is encouraged as cartilage needs moderate load in order to regenerate. In the hip and knee, the condition may progress to the point of requiring a joint replacement.
What are the symptoms?
+ Symptoms develop slowly
+ Feeling of instability, ‘looseness’ or ‘giving way’
+ Reduced range of motion
+ Pain on weight bearing
+ Red, hot or swollen joint
+ Pain at rest
What is the best treatment for Osteoarthritis?
First line of treatment: Lifestyle management
+ Weight control: Increased body weight results in greater total volume of weight that is carried by the body during movement. Therefore, even small losses of weight can result in a big reduction of load placed on the joint.
+ Pacing: is better in the long term to try to do smaller bits of activity regularly to encourage appropriate recovery for the muscles and cartilage within and around the joint. Pacing allows you to perform a greater total load in the long term.
+ Specific exercise: the exercises that improve OA symptoms are specific to strengthening the hip, buttock, thigh and calf muscles as well as optimising balance and agility. Exercises can be done individually at home, as part of gym program or attending the GLA:D exercise program at Total Physiotherapy.
Second line of treatment: Medication
+ Panadol, anti-inflammatories as prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist.
Third line of treatment: Surgery
+ Joint replacements
Exercise therapy has been shown to produce the best pain reduction and functional outcomes for osteoarthritis!