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Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease of the joint cartilage and is the most common form of arthritis.

 

It can affect almost any joint, but commonly affects the hands,hips, knees, neck and lower back. OA is most often due to aging and general wear and tear. 

 

OA pic

 

 

OA can be a debilitating disease. It can affect your function and movement, lifestyle and quality of life, sleep, work and often your mood too. Evidence shows that as much as 85% of hip and knee replacements are as a result of OA. It is therefore important to address these degenerative changes as it can lead significant problems with mobility later in life.

 

What causes osteoarthritis?

 

There are several risk factors that can contribute to OA. Below are a few examples:

 

  • Aging
  • Obesity
  • Previous injury or trauma to one or several joints – this could be infection, fractures, or even ligament tears causing unstable joints
  • Occupation – often people with heavy manual labour or those who perform repetitive movements for a long time, and athletes are more susceptible to OA changes
  • Mechanical or structural imbalances found in the body

 

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

 

Commonly, there will be structural changes in and around the affected joint/s, some of which may be visible. It may also start to alter the way you walk due to the pain and deformity in the joints. Often in hip or knee OA there will be muscle weakness and/or wasting, giving the appearance of a smaller, thinner limb.

An individual with OA may notice some of the following:

 

  • Joint pain that is worse for activity and better for rest
  • Stiffness in the morning and after resting - for example getting off the sofa
  • Reduced mobility and function in the affected joints
  • Muscle weakness/wasting
  • Possible swelling, tenderness and bony deformity
  • Crepitus – a grinding sensation that may be heard/felt on movement
  • Possible discomfort when using the stairs - in the hips and knees

 

However, structural changes within the joints can often occur without any symptoms – that is without any of the above.

 

How can manual therapy help my osteoarthritis pain?

 

Typical forms of treatment are painkillers, light activity, exercises for muscle strength and flexibility, and manual therapy such as osteopathy, physiotherapy and acupuncture.

Like a clock or an engine, the body needs maintenance to keep it fully functioning, as it should be. With OA, this becomes increasingly difficult due to fulfill, so a little help can often go a long way.

 

Osteopathy can help with muscle and joint pain through gentle manipulations of the tissues to help restore health, mobility and function. They will also discuss your lifestyle and how it has affected you to try and help you get back on track. Whether this is playing golf or walking to the shops and back, gentle treatment, specific exercises, and advice on possible lifestyle changes can contribute to a healthier functioning body.

 

Exercise prescription is also vital to help stretch and strengthen weak muscles that surround the affected joint/s to enable you to keep as active and pain free as possible during your daily activities. Controlled rehabilitation exercises haven been proven to increase muscle strength and reduce disability in OA patients. Some of the pain felt around the arthritic join is due to tight and weak muscles that are trying to deal with the structural changes going on.

 

Aerobic and non-weight bearing activities are often beneficial to someone suffering with OA. This may involve swimming or cycling, as the joints aren’t being placed under load by the weight of the body, which can relieve some of the pain. However, be careful not to over exercise as this may cause increased pain.

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