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Osteoarthritis is a condition affecting the joints, causing them to become painful and rigid, and is the most common form of arthritis in the UK.

The gravity of symptoms varies significantly between individuals and the different joints affected. The physical indications of the condition can be minor, occurring only sporadically, whilst other patients find them more serious and relentless obstacles.

Whilst any joint may suffer from osteoarthritis, the condition presents most commonly in the hips, knees and in the lesser joints of the hands.

Though far from a rare affliction, the pain and stiffness, when left untreated, has the potential to make everyday activities prohibitively problematic for sufferers of osteoarthritis.

How is Osteoarthritis Caused?

The condition arises following damage to the joints and adjacent areas that are unable to repair entirely. Although there is currently no conclusive evidence for just why this condition ensues, odds of its development are sizeably increased according factors such as a person’s weight and age. Whilst younger people can certainly suffer from osteoarthritis, it is most frequently seen in people over the age of 45. There is hope for prevention and postponement of the condition, however; odds of its development are considerably reduced by performing regular, low-intensity exercise and ensuring your weight remains within the healthy range.

Physiotherapy for Arthritis

Physiotherapy is crucial in the effective management of your osteoarthritis, enabling you to retain your confidence and independence by bolstering your strength, flexibility, and ultimately, your mobility. Abstaining from using your joints, though understandable with a condition entail pain in so doing, can nonetheless cause the muscles to waste through a lack of use and is likely to aggravate the stiffness caused by the osteoarthritis originally. Arleth Health provides Manual Therapy, employing stretching techniques, to restore your joints to optimum suppleness and flexibility.

For osteoarthritis of the lower limbs, the foot, for example, our physiotherapists may recommend the use of special insoles or footwear. Soles of the shock-absorbing variety can reduce pressure  on the leg joints, and are of particular use when walking, aiding a more even weight distribution.  With osteoarthritis of the hips or knees, the use of a walking aid, such as a cane or stick, may be advised to place less weight on the affected side of your body. Splints may also be administered with acute problem areas, such as a joint or bone, A splint (a piece of rigid material used to provide support to a joint or bone) can also be useful if you need to rest a painful joint. Your physiotherapist can provide you with a splint and give you advice on how to use it correctly. Lastly, with osteoarthritis of the hands, supervision with hand-oriented tasks such as twisting a doorknob or turning on a tap may be desirable. We can advise you on specially-developed equipment to enhance your grip, relieving the stress on the affected area.

At Arleth Health Physiotherapy, we frequently recommend the following regimen to the osteoarthritis sufferers we see:

  • low-impact aerobic exercise (both on and off-land)
  • neck and back exercises to develop strength
  • range of motion exercises to keep joints limber
  • a timetable of when you should practice these at home

We can also advise on the type and timing of pain-relieving medication that best serves your osteoarthritis needs; analgesics or anti-inflammatories are the most commonly prescribed, and taken an hour before exercising should help ease your return to or commencement of gentle exercise whilst diminishing inflammation and discomfort; yet it should be noted, sticking to your physiotherapy treatment and the recommendations we make will work to reduce pain on a more permanent and tangible level.

Your Physiotherapy Assessment

In our initial assessment, we will examine your posture, the alignment and movement of your muscles and, if appropriate, your walking gait. We will also ask a few questions regarding the level and type of activity in which you generally participate in order to gage which of these are likely causing the specific pain and debilitation we observe.

After this, we will discuss and tailor your personalised treatment plan, which may recommend any of the following:

  • exercise
  • posture and / or further biomechanical correction
  • massage treatments
  • hydrotherapy
  • pain relieving drugs, such as analgesics and anti-inflammatories
  • pain relieving techniques, such as electrotherapy
  • the use of TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machines

It usual to have at least six sessions with your physiotherapist, however we will monitor your progress and needs on an ongoing basis, and update you regarding any change to your initial prognosis.

As with all injuries, early detection truly helps in the prevention of further damage. If you have experienced any of the above symptoms, or are concerned about their onset, give the team at Arleth Health a call today.

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