What is Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a form of arthritis where joint cartilage breaks down. It is the most common form of arthritis. It most commonly occurs in adults aged over 45 but it can present itself in much younger adults and even in children.
Sometimes OA develops as a result of something that can be identified: maybe a pre-existing medical condition, an abnormality or an injury. But this isn’t always the case; it can just ‘happen’ without an obvious cause.
OA tends to be found in certain joints in the body, most commonly: knees, hips, fingers, the lower-back and neck. As it progresses, it can start to interfere with daily life causing joint issues such as pain, stiffness, reduced motion, swelling and instability. Usually, a GP will diagnose whether you have OA.
It is possible to treat the condition to improve symptoms and prevent it from progressing. There are a wide variety of options to consider ranging from non-invasive options through to surgery. Let’s take a quick look at them:
Using both aerobic and resistance training is the optimum combination to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, reduce pain and heighten the endurance capability of the joint. A physiotherapist is a good place to start as they can create a tailored program which is likely to include stretching, weights (or exercise bands), balancing, and low-impact aerobic options such as walking or swimming.
Admittedly, this may not be necessary for everyone, but it can have profound effects, especially for those with OA in their knees.
Braces, orthotics, walking aids and other options can stabilise joints and improve alignment.
There are several surgical options including:
- Osteotomy – removing a piece of bone near the joint to shift weight away from the joint
- Joint replacement: removing part, or all, of the joint and replacing it with an artificial one
Will everyone with OA eventually need surgery?
Not necessarily. For mild OA, it is perfectly possible to effectively manage symptoms with non-surgical treatment and lifestyle changes. The condition doesn’t necessarily get worse over time and can improve.
At the more severe end of the OA spectrum, where people are experiencing symptoms that significantly and adversely impact their life, joint replacement surgery may be the best long-term solution.
Anyone with OA should always weigh up the risks of surgery against the likely benefits to determine if it is the right course of action. This should be done in conjunction with an orthopaedic surgeon.
OA support at The Arch Clinic
We have an impressive track-record in helping OA patients manage their pain, improve joint functionality and slow down deterioration – which has proved to be a valuable lifeline with current surgery waiting times. Our specialist OA practitioners are readily available to give a 360o view and advise you on how best to personally manage your OA.
In addition, our physiotherapists can assess you and formulate a tailored exercise program to strengthen and help you.
If orthotics are recommended to help align your joint, you’ll be in safe hands with our podiatrist who can arrange them for you.
We also offer both forms of OA injections:
- Hyaluronic acid for lubricating the joint which is often best used in the earlier stages of OA. It can have excellent results in slowing down the progression of the OA process.
- Cortisone anti-inflammatory which we often use in the later, more severe stages of OA when it can offer significant relief to patients.
Our specialist practitioners are also able to recommend further medical professionals such as orthopaedic surgeons if you want to explore this route.
If you want to find out more, please get in touch.
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