What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. OA is caused by general 'wear and tear' on joint cartilage, causing pain and joint inflammation. OA most commonly affects people who are middle-aged or older. OA can range from very mild to severe. It generally affects the hands and the large weight bearing joints such as the knees, hips, feet and the back. To have a certain degree of OA can almost be considered a normal part of ageing. A common misunderstanding is that OA is always a progressive and serious disease.
What are the symptoms/effects of osteoarthritis?
The severity of symptoms varies. Typical symptoms are pain, stiffness, and reduced range of movement at the joint. The stiffness tends to be worse first thing in the morning but usually eases as the days goes on. Swelling and inflammation of an affected joint can sometimes occur.
Other factors that indicate osteoarthritis are:
- An affected joint tends to look a little larger than normal. This is due to overgrowth of the bone next to damaged cartilage and sometimes swelling.
- You may have reduced mobility if a knee or hip is badly affected.
- No symptoms may occur. Quite a number of people have X-ray changes that indicate some degree of OA but have no symptoms. The opposite can also be true. That is, you may have quite severe symptoms but with only minor changes seen on the X-ray.
Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis
A diagnosis of osteoarthritis can be confirmed by a physiotherapist or doctor following a thorough subjective and objective assessment.
Physiotherapy for Osteoarthritis
Physiotherapy treatment at Manchester Physio will reduce pain and stiffness, improve range of movement and strength, and help you manage your symptoms so you can remain as active as possible.
A thorough assessment with one of our physiotherapists at Manchester Physio will identify your main problems and a rehabilitation program will be developed tailored to you to maximise your physical function.
Our physiotherapists at Manchester Physio use a combination of electrotherapy, gentle mobilisation and exercises to reduce pain and inflammation.
Your physiotherapist at Manchester Physio will also prescribe a personal exercise programme to help protect the inflamed joints against further damage and strengthen the appropriate muscles around them whilst maintaining range of movement.
Other treatment techniques for osteoarthritis at Manchester Physio may include:
- Advice on how to balance activity with rest and choosing activities that do not aggravate your pain
- Advice on how to manage your flare-ups
- Heat therapy to reduce pain and stiffness
- Soft tissue massage to relieve tight muscles
- Hydrotherapy to stretch and strengthen muscles and to maximise mobility
- Gait re-education
- Advice about walking aids
If you would like more information on how physiotherapy can help you, or to book an appointment please call 0161 883 0077.