A diagnosis of osteoarthritis (OA) for joint pain can be a great cause of distress. Many people believe that if you have arthritis your pain is not able to improve and will deteriorate until a joint replacement can be performed. The truth is much more complicated, largely due to our bodies’ incredible ability to adapt and change.
Physiotherapists have always known that the pain and disability that comes with arthritis can be improved with a closely targeted exercise program. In some cases, the pain that is attributed to OA is actually due to a different, entirely treatable cause. In other cases, strengthening the musculature around the painful joint can have a significant effect by providing the joint with extra support.
The way we move is often affected negatively by pain and this in itself can create changes to biomechanics that can further contribute to pain. In many cases, surgical intervention is the best choice for treatment and can have incredible results. However, there is a strong case for seeking physiotherapy treatment first to see if you can achieve the same results without surgery. Even if you do choose to go ahead with surgery, working with a physiotherapist beforehand can provide better outcomes.
Physiotherapists are highly skilled at identifying exactly what is causing your pain and helping you reach the highest level of function. While exercise is a very powerful treatment, it’s not that any exercise will take away any pain.
To be effective, you will need to have a full assessment and a personalized treatment program created by your physiotherapist. This can involve identifying weak muscles, limitations in flexibility, finding painful trigger points, restoring movement to stiff joints and providing biomechanical assessment to make a combination of changes that can make a large difference to your pain and activity levels.
Your physiotherapist can also identify any external factors that may be contributing to your pain. Such as unsupportive footwear, workplace set up etc. Talk to us to see how we can help you manage your osteoarthritis.
None of the information in this article is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual condition.