Tag Archives: arthritis

Management of Osteoarthritis

What is Osteoarthritis (OA)?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and occurs when the protective cartilage that provides cushion and support at the ends of bones gradually wears down. This is a degenerative disease that can worsen over time, often resulting in chronic pain affecting your day-to-day activities. Eventually if the cartilage wears down completely, the bones in the joint will rub directly on each other exacerbating the symptoms.

Common Symptoms of OA

  1. Pain and Tenderness
  2. Joint Stiffness
  3. Muscle Weakness and Loss of Flexibility
  4. Grating Sensation
  5. Bone Spurs- not a symptom but a sign
  6. Swelling

Most Common Risk Factors

  1. Old Age
    • Articular surfaces on the end of bones can wear down over time due to the natural aging process that occurs to muscles, joints, and bones.
  2. Obesity
    • Excess weight puts more stress on the joints (commonly occurs to weight bearing joints such as the hip and knee).
  3. Repeated Stress on the Joint
    • Over time this will cause the articular surfaces to wear down.
  4. Joint Injuries
    • A break or tear can lead to the development of OA over time.
  5. Genetics and Certain Metabolic Diseases
    • People with a family history of OA are at a greater risk.

Treatment for OA

An effective approach is seeking physiotherapy treatment at earlier stages, accompanied with an exercise program specific to you. You may feel some discomfort during exercising, but this feeling is normal and should calm down. If it is unbearable then do not continue with the exercise. Of course with any exercise, there are always risks associated, therefore consult your doctor prior to beginning any new exercise program.

                Exercise has many benefits for ALL people including improved health, fitness, and mood. Many people believe that exercising with OA could harm your joints and cause more pain, but research shows that people can and should exercise when they have OA. It is considered the most effective, non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in those with OA.

Recommended Types of Exercise

So now we know that exercise can ease symptoms of arthritis, but what is best for you? Well that varies from person to person so here are a few main categories of exercises to include in your program:

  1. Flexibility

                This category includes exercises that will help to improve or maintain the range of motion of the affected joint(s). By relieving stiffness in the joint and increasing the ability for the joint to move through its full range, you will decrease the risk of further damage, improve the function of the limb and joint, and decrease overall pain. There are two main categories of stretching to consider:

  • Dynamic Stretching: these are movement-based stretches that involve multiple joints. They should be performed prior to activity to prepare the body.
  • Static Stretching: these are stretches that take the muscle to its end range before holding that position for a minimum of 30 seconds. These stretches should be performed after activity when the muscle is already warmed up.

2. Strengthening

                These exercises work to build stronger muscles to help support and protect the joints. This allows for offloading of the affected joint which has the potential to relieve many symptoms. It is recommended to engage in strengthening exercises 2-3 days/week. Examples of strengthening exercises include lifting a limb against gravity, using free weights or elastic bands, or weight machines requiring you to push or pull against resistance.

3. Aerobic / Endurance

                These exercises help with overall fitness and improve your cardiovascular health. They typically involve the use of large muscle groups in the body in a repetitive and rhythmic manner. Canada’s guidelines for adults are to achieve 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. This intensity typically involves you to breathe a little harder and sweat but not be out of breath. Activities falling under this category include walking, biking, dancing, or even everyday activities such as mowing the lawn or shoveling as long as you are achieving a moderate- to vigorous-intensity.

4. Balance

                This is a fourth, less recognized category that is very important to consider in your exercise plan. These exercises will target smaller groups of muscles to decrease your risk of falling and can help improve your ability to do other exercises. Balance exercises include anything with a smaller or unstable base of support such as performing activities on a foam pad or single legged exercises.

Summary

                Arthritis doesn’t have to keep you from living your life and participating in your everyday activities. Exercise and arthritis should coexist! Research has shown that people with osteoarthritis who exercise regularly have less pain, more energy, improved sleep and a better day-to-day function. Work with your Physiotherapist to create an exercise program that is right for you and kick start your road to a healthier life!

BodyTech Physiotherapy

Don’t Let Arthritis Pain Keep you from Life!

KneeSeptember is National Arthritis month and a great time to increase awareness about the disease that affects over 4.6 million Canadians. “Athro” means joint and “itis” means inflammation. The joint inflammation that is characteristic of arthritic conditions can cause joint and musculoskeletal pain. Joint inflammation can also cause redness, swelling, stiffness and heat. These symptoms can inhibit normal use of the joint and lead to loss of function over time.  Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent type and results in degeneration of the cartilage within joints, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the lining of the joints.

At BodyTech Physiotherapy our experienced physiotherapists will work with you to create an exercise program that will not only make daily tasks more comfortable, but will also allow you to pursue your hobbies and active goals. An effective exercise program can be designed for all levels of abilities and function and will be simple to perform at home. Stretching and range of motion exercises can relieve stiffness and restore normal joint movement, while strengthening exercises are important to allow surrounding muscles to provide stability to joints. Stability provided by muscles prevents too much motion of the joints, thus protecting them from excessive wear and tear. Another key outcome of an exercise program is pain reduction. Pressure in the joints caused by inflammation and swelling is unloaded with proper exercise allowing the joints to move freely and function normally. Education about proper body mechanics and posture will also protect the integrity of the joints and help reduce pain and stiffness.

In addition to an appropriate exercise program, an important role of physiotherapy in arthritis care is manual therapy. Manual therapy involves joint manipulation and mobilization that can improve range of motion and reduce pain, therefore allowing exercises to be performed more effectively. In fact, studies have shown that manual therapy combined with an exercise program provides improved pain relief and joint function compared to exercise alone.  At BodyTech Physiotherapy, manual therapy comprises a large part of our treatment, thus providing you with the essential care to treat your arthritis.

BodyTech Physiotherapy