What can I do for my osteoarthritis?June 1, 2016
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disease that leads to disability, affecting about 7 million people in America. It is thought that repetitive microtrauma that tears away at the cartilage is what causes signs and symptoms. While the exact reason for the occurrence of OA is unknown, there are many risk factors that are associated with it. The most common joints that are affected by OA are the knees and hips.
Risk factors include:
- Decreased physical activity
- Joint stiffness, especially in the AM
- Joint swelling
- Joint pain
The first test performed to detect OA is an x-ray. The x-ray can detect changes in bone. Bone spurs are commonly found in OA. These are growths that occur on the bone that form from repetitive microtrauma. The next step is an MRI, which is better at viewing soft tissue and the cartilage involved. Cartilage is what protects bones in a joint from rubbing together. Together, these tests along with a physical exam performed by a primary care physician, are the steps taken to diagnose OA.
OA loves movement! Staying active is important in pain management. Staying active wakes up the fluid inside of the joints that allows them to move smoothly and pain free.
Physical therapy uses therapeutic exercises that strengthen surrounding muscles of the joints involved, and those above and/or below. For example, with knee OA, strengthening the core, hips, knees and ankles is important. Range of motion may be decreased, whether it is due to stiffness or pain. Physical therapy can utilize manual therapy and exercises to help gain back normal range of motion.
Stretching is crucial in OA so as to ensure that muscles do not excessively pull on the joint, adding any unnecessary stresses. Stretching will help to resolve the stiffness experienced with OA.
Physical therapy can use modalities that offer pain relief. For example, electrical stimulation units consist of four electrodes that are placed around the joint. The electrodes emit a tingling feeling which can result in temporary pain relief. Moist heat or cold packs may be used as needed to give pain relief.
For more information on physical therapy or arthritis visit www.totalperformancept.com.