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Arthritis: Treatment and Management Options

What is Arthritis & How Best to Manage it?

Physiotherapy At Woodbridge, Vaughan Guide to Arthritis

Have you heard someone talking about arthritis? Are you unsure about what it means? Let us take you through the basics. Osteoarthritis affects large sections of the older population. There are other types of arthritis you may not be aware of but we are specifically talking about osteoarthritis. We are going to give you the basic information on what the problem is and what you can do about it.  Let’s take a look at arthritis.

The most common form is osteoarthritis (OA), which is a degenerative problem means that as time passes, osteoarthritis develops further. This means that the smooth surfaces of our joints gradually wear down meaning they may not be as efficient as they once were.

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An important point to mention:

  • Symptoms may not be present, people who will have an x-ray and be diagnosed with osteoarthritis will not have any symptoms. This is why it is important not to solely gain diagnosis from an image like an XRAY or MRI scan.

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OA will come to everyone in their lifetime but it doesn’t mean it will be painful. From the age of 50 there is a degree of wear in all of our joints. This does not mean that they will become painful or symptomatic.

Top Causes of Osteoarthritis

Factors which enhance osteoarthritis are:

  • Excessive exercise – performing a lot of exercise can lead to joint breakdown. Examples have been seen in ex professionals who require surgery
  • Obesity – carrying extra weight often leads to joints becoming overloaded. This extra pressure over time causes cartilage to wear down and make joints painful. For every extra kilo of weight you carry, when walking it places 4 x that weight through your knee joint.
  • Injury – traumatic injury to a joint and surgery may cause quicker development of OA before the age of 50. ACL and Meniscus injuries can accelerate the development of arthritis.
  • Manual Labour – long periods of your life spent doing physical or hands on work with repetitive movement can cause joints to wear faster than people in sedentary jobs.
5 Common Symptoms of Arthritis

Both types of arthritis have similar type symptoms, however there are a few subtle differences:

  • Painful joints when moving
  • Painful joints at rest
  • Tenderness to touch
  • Swollen joints
  • Morning stiffness lasting less than 30 mins

 

Osteoarthritis symptoms can more often directly be related to physical activity if the joints affected have done a lot of work this may cause them to become aggravated – the joints are sometimes more sensitive to certain loads placed upon them.

Best Treatment / Management of Arthritis

Arthritis charities and research organisations recommend exercise as the main treatment and prevention for OA. Ensuring you have a varied amount of exercise in order to help keep cartilage and joints healthy and muscles that support those joints strong. Weak muscles do not provide support for the joints – if muscles are weak then this directly transfers extra load on to the joints.

If you are stronger from varied exercise it takes pressure off your joints and helps you to age in a better way.

Top 4 Exercises to Prevent and Treat Arthritis

Improving your joint range of movement, your flexibility, strength and increasing your stamina are all key areas in the fight against arthritis! Working on a simple exercise routine is the best medicine you can give to your body, your exercise needs to be structured carefully and the amount you do will be reflective of what you can manage.

Over everything however, is the need for consistency, as arthritis is a long term problem and the more attention you pay to it with exercise – the better you can control it.

Here are some top exercise tips to keep you moving:

1. Walking – simple, and something everyone can do. Loading your knee cartilage with weight and compression has been shown to help preserve it and help it to repair. If your knees are painful then start with small periods of walking and slowly build. If you have less than 5/10 pain in the knees – walking is recommended.

2.  Strength Training – As we age we naturally lose muscle mass and our joint health deteriorates. These are 2 main factors in the development of OA. Strengthen all of the body – it makes your joints and connective tissue healthier.

3.  Yoga/Pilates – both aim to strengthen the body and promote better joint movement. This is another popular exercise for arthritis as it is easy on the body and can be adapted to suit each person.

4.  Swimming – Pain with arthritis can occur when the joints are placed under weight – swimming places no weight on the joints and can effectively help to work your cardio vascular system, free movement of joints and strengthen your limbs. If you can’t swim then don’t worry, bodyweight exercises or running in a pool is advised.

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