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Osteoarthritis - How physiotherapy can help?

Osteoarthritis is a common form of arthritis that primarily affects the joints. It is characterized by the degeneration and breakdown of the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones within a joint. As the cartilage wears away, the bones may rub against each other, leading to pain, stiffness, inflammation, and decreased mobility. Research consistently highlights the positive impact that physical activity and exercise can have on managing osteoarthritis. By incorporating personalized and regular physical activity into your routine, you can unlock a world of benefits that extend far beyond joint health alone.

While osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, it most commonly affects weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, and spine, as well as the hands, fingers, and feet. It is often referred to as a "wear-and-tear" or degenerative joint disease, as it typically develops over time due to a combination of factors, including:

Age: The risk of osteoarthritis increases with age, as the wear and tear on joints accumulate over time.
Joint Injury or Overuse: Previous joint injuries, such as fractures or ligament tears, can increase the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis in that joint. Repetitive use of joints in certain occupations or sports can also contribute to its development.
Obesity: Excess body weight puts additional stress on the joints, particularly the weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips, increasing the risk of osteoarthritis.
Genetics: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to developing osteoarthritis, which can be inherited from family members.
Joint Misalignment or Instability: Conditions that affect joint alignment or stability, such as abnormal joint shapes or weak ligaments, can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.

Physical activity can create a significant difference in your life, if you have osteoarthritis here we share some positive effects you can get from exercising regularly:

Engaging in targeted exercises and strength training helps improve the strength of muscles surrounding the affected joints. This increased strength provides better support, reducing stress on the joints and alleviating pain. Also, you will improve your range of motion and flexibility; osteoarthritis can restrict joint mobility and cause stiffness, however, regular exercise and physical activity can counteract these effects. By incorporating stretching and range-of-motion exercises into your routine, you can increase joint flexibility and enhance ease of movement.
Walking is a fundamental activity that can be negatively impacted by osteoarthritis. Fortunately, physical activity can help improve walking mechanics and boost endurance. By gradually increasing your walking regimen and implementing gait training exercises, you can regain confidence and mobility. And engaging in weight-bearing activities, such as walking or resistance training, can have a positive impact on joint health. These activities promote joint lubrication and nutrition, aiding in the preservation of cartilage and mitigating the progression of osteoarthritis.

However, the benefits of physical activity extend far beyond the realm of osteoarthritis management. Embracing a lifestyle that prioritizes daily exercise and physical activity can lead to a cascade of positive changes, including:
Amplified Energy Levels: Regular physical activity boosts your overall energy, helping you feel revitalized and ready to take on the day.
Enhanced Mood and Mental Well-being: Exercise has been shown to stimulate the release of endorphins, the "feel-good" hormones that uplift your mood and improve mental health. Engaging in physical activity can be a powerful tool in managing stress, anxiety, and depression.
Improved Sleep Quality: Physical activity promotes better sleep patterns, helping you achieve restful and rejuvenating sleep. By incorporating exercise into your routine, you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face new challenges.
Alleviated Pain: Counterintuitive as it may seem, regular exercise and physical activity can help reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis. Strengthening muscles and improving joint support can alleviate strain on the affected areas, providing relief and improving the overall quality of life.

Physiotherapy for Osteoarthritis

Physiotherapy plays a significant role in the management of osteoarthritis by offering various interventions aimed at reducing pain, improving joint function, and enhancing overall quality of life. Here are some ways in which physiotherapy can help individuals with osteoarthritis:
Pain Management: Physiotherapists employ different techniques to help alleviate pain associated with osteoarthritis. They may use manual therapy techniques such as joint mobilization, soft tissue massage, or acupuncture to reduce pain and promote relaxation.
Exercise Prescription: Physios are experts in prescribing appropriate exercises tailored to the individual's needs and abilities. These exercises focus on strengthening the muscles around the affected joints, improving joint stability, and enhancing overall mobility. They may include range-of-motion exercises, flexibility exercises, and resistance training. Engaging in a regular exercise program can reduce pain, increase joint function, and improve overall physical fitness.
Gait Training and Biomechanical Assessment: They can assess and analyze your walking pattern (gait) to identify any abnormalities or imbalances that may be contributing to joint stress and pain. They can provide gait training to correct improper mechanics and optimize your walking pattern, leading to improved joint function and reduced discomfort.
Education and Self-Management Strategies: Physiotherapists provide valuable education about osteoarthritis, its progression, and ways to manage the condition. They can offer guidance on activity modification, joint protection techniques, and strategies for managing pain and flare-ups. By empowering individuals with knowledge and self-management skills, physiotherapists help them take an active role in their own care.

Remember, taking charge of your osteoarthritis requires commitment and dedication, but the rewards are immeasurable. By incorporating physical activity and exercise into your life, you can reclaim control over your well-being. Book your first physiotherapy session with us, click the button below.
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