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Osteoarthritis (OA)

Posted by: Terry On February 17, 2015 at 8:51 am

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, especially among older people. It is a degenerative disease which predominantly affects hip, knee, neck and lower back. Pain caused by OA is normally related to weight bearing or movement, as well as being in one position for too long, such as prolonged sitting or standing.

The degenerative process of OA results in a loss of articular cartilage in the affected joints. Cartilage is the slippery tissue that covers the ends of the bones in a joint. Healthy cartilage allows bones to glide over one another. It also absorbs energy from the shock of physical movement. In OA, the surface layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away. This allows bones under the cartilage to rub together, causing pain, swelling and stiffness of the joint. Over time, the joint may lose its normal shape. Also, bone spurs (osteophytes) may grow on the edges of the joint. Bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float inside the joint space. This causes more pain and damage. Normal movement through affected joint caused increased stress through ligaments, nerves, tendons and muscles of the joint. The altered forces can also refer pain into the neighboring joints or other structures in the region, which can become tight or weakened.

OA affects each person differently. In some people, it progresses quickly. In others, the symptoms are more serious. The cause of the disease is not well established yet, but it is likely to be a combination of factors, including being overweight, the aging process, joint injury and stress on the joints from certain jobs and sports activities. Even though OA most often occurs in older people,Physiotherapists Brisbane, Massage Brisbane, Back pain Brisbane, Physiotherapy Brisbane, Physiotherapist Brisbane, some young people can get OA from joint injuries.

OA causes problem in people’s joints, but indirectly, it also can affect each person’s lifestyle, leading to depression, anxiety, feeling of helplessness, limitations on daily activities and limitations at work. Despite these, most people with OA can still lead active and productive lives by having a comprehensive OA management.


  • Education and learning self-care: Having a better understanding of the disease process allows you to have a clear picture and more confident on how you can attack the problems. This is the purpose of this article. Your local doctor and physiotherapist can assess you and provide you with a comprehensive management program leading to self-management in the long term.
  • Weight loss: Losing weight takes some load off the affected joint, especially in weight bearing.
  • Posture: Correcting posture and gait helps to restore normal movement patterns to the affected joint, which is biomechanically important.
  • Pain relief: Rest is effective in unloading the affected joints and hence reducing pain. Heat can also be used for short term relief of pain and for increasing circulation to the joint prior to exercise, which helps to keep the cartilage surrounding the joint healthy. Pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications are also helpful, but you need to seek advices from your doctor.
  • Exercise: Exercise is generally encouraged in a non-weight bearing environment initially, such as in a pool or on an exercise bike. Exercise can improve mood and outlook, decrease pain, increase flexibility, improve the heart and blood flow, maintain weight and promote general physical fitness. A comprehensive program of strengthening, range of motion exercises and stretches will help to increase length and strength of postural muscles around the joint, which may be weak and tight. The appropriate amount and form of exercise will depend on which joints are involved and how stable the joints are. Your physiotherapist will be able to provide you with individualized exercise program and advices.
  • Single stick: A walking stick carried in the opposite hand (opposite the affected side) redistributes weight onto the normal joints and can ease pain in the affected joints. Other walking aids may be more appropriate for you depending on which joints are involved. Your physiotherapist will also give you suitable advices on this matter. Correctly fitted walking aid for the individual is important to ensure safety and good support during gait.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be performed on some people to help relieve pain and disability of OA. Surgery can be just removing loose pieces of bone and cartilage from the joint or resurfacing (smooth out) the bones. Joint replacement surgery can be done in more severe OA cases. The decision to use surgery depends on several things. Both the surgeon and the patient consider the level of disability, the intensive of pain, the interference with the patient’s lifestyle, the patient’s age and occupation.
  • Alternative intervention: As an example, research has shown that acupuncture can be a useful component of treatment for pain relief in OA

Working together with your doctor, physiotherapist and others will ensure you to have greater control over the disease and will allow you to maintain good quality of living.

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