Osteoarthritis is something many people are diagnosed with (it affects 25% of the population over 18 years old). People diagnosed with the condition get the common explanation that it is joint “wear and tear”. This often leaves people feeling quite confused that often leads to people telling me that there joints and bones are “crumbling”. So what is osteoarthritis? What are the symptoms? Possible treatment options?
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is more than just simple “wear and tear”; it is possible to have a degenerative joint and not have pain. A degenerative joint is characterised by the thinning of the articular cartilage (the sliding surface found between joints) and bone spur development. An osteoarthritic joint is different from just common wear and tear (that everybody has some degree of) because it causes pain and disability. This is because the osteoarthritic joint has a different chemical makeup than the standard degenerative joint. I won’t bore you too much with the science but some examples of difference in chemical make-up include: infiltration of cytokines which inflames the synov ium of the joint, neural inflammation, differences in collagen type, changes to subchondral bone etc. These differences on a molecular level result in low grade inflammation of the joint, pain and disability.
Risk factors for the development of osteoarthritis include:
- Prior injury
What are the symptoms?
- Pain, pain is generally worse in the morning
- Stiffness, again generally worse in the morning
- No obvious onset (no trigger to cause the pain, although there can be)
- Locking, crunching, grinding of the joint
- Redness, heat and signs of inflammation over the injured joint
It’s easy to feel as though because the joint is wearing, this leaves treatment options sparse because there is mechanical damage to the joint and then nothing but surgery will help change that, however, this is wrong. In-fact osteoarthritis is one of the more easy conditions to treat as a physiotherapist.
Treatment options include:
- Exercise, manual therapy and other physiotherapeutic interventions (acupuncture etc)
- Pharmacological interventions (drugs)
- Supplements (glucosamine and chondroitin)
- Weight loss (if obese)
- And finally, if required, joint replacement
Joints and Points Healthcare have qualified physiotherapists to help you. We are currently offering a free assessment to help you decide if physiotherapy is the right course of treatment for you. Call us on 0151 345 6823 or email [email protected]