Osteoarthritis affects almost 10% of all Australians. As we age, the rate of osteoarthritis increases to the point where over 60% of people over 55 years of age will have this condition to some degree. The number of people affected is projected to increase significantly the combination of an ageing population, a more sedentary lifestyle and higher obesity rates.
Osteoarthritis can significantly impact your life because it is most commonly seen in weight bearing joints such as the knees and hips. Pain in these joints often causes people to either reduce their activity or stop exercise altogether, which only makes the problem worse. Physically, this results in an accelerated deconditioning process which weakens muscles (especially the quads, glutes, hamstrings and calf) and causes more joint pain and stiffness. Often this inactivity also causes people to gain weight, which is an increases joint pressure and makes things worse. Importantly, we also see a restriction in activity participation, community engagement and a reduction in quality of life.
Morning stiffness is often an early symptom of osteoarthritis, usually resolving within about 30 minutes of getting moving. Other common symptoms are painful and restricted joint movements, having a gritty feeling within the joint during movement which may or may not be noisy, and some people with knee osteoarthritis show swelling and visible changes in joint alignment. Because pain and restriction change your joint mechanics and cause weakness they also increase your risk of further pain and joint degeneration, so it’s important to get your knee assessed and treated properly, particularly focusing on rebuilding your full strength and control.
Physiotherapy is the first-line treatment for knee and hip joint osteoarthritis. Research clearly shows that effective physio management, including manual therapy and a comprehensive strength program, provides great outcomes for people with osteoarthritis. It is important that treatment starts as early as possible to maintain your strength, reduce joint degeneration, minimise changes in joint mechanics and keep you as active as possible.
In your initial assessment a detailed history and physical assessment is completed to clarify your diagnosis. This includes an examination to identify painful or restricted movements and a thorough strength assessment to identify any weakness that may be contributing to your pain. Your physio will also spend time talking to you about your goals for leisure, sport and exercise.
During your assessment your physiotherapist will clearly explain your results and work with you to build a plan that is targeted towards your specific goals. This can be as simple as reducing pain and restoring function for normal daily activities, or more high-performance goals such as returning to sport. and
Your treatment is tailored specifically for you and is based on your goals for your lifestyle and exercise activities, the exact nature and extent of your symptoms, plus any relevant history or other injuries. Your physiotherapist will choose the most effective combination of proven and effective treatment techniques for you, often including;
All of our physiotherapists at Central Performance are experienced in treating osteoarthritis. As exercise is key in osteoarthritis management, your physiotherapist may also recommend that you see an exercise physiologist as part of your treatment plan. This will help you establish an effective ongoing exercise program tailored towards successful long-term management of your osteoarthritis.