Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects the joint, and is the most common form of arthritis. It can occur in any joint of the body but most commonly effects joints in the hands, knees, hips and spine. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wear down over time and bone begins to rub against bone.
According to Arthritis Australia, Osteoarthritis has previously been described as a degenerative condition due to wear and tear of the joints. It is now thought to be the result of the joint working extra hard to repair itself after trauma or repetitive strain.
The cartilage is not the only structure affected by osteoarthritis, in general the entire joint is affected. It causes deterioration of the bones involved and the connective tissues that hold the joint together and attach to muscles begin to deteriorate as well.
Symptoms start gradually and worsen over time, causing pain, stiffness, and loss of flexibility in the affected joint. The most common symptoms are pain that worsens with activity, stiffness that typically occurs in the morning or after a period of inactivity and grinding or popping sounds when moving the joint.
Additionally, the affected joint may appear swollen and feel tender to the touch. In advanced cases, the joint may become deformed or lose its range of motion entirely, making daily activities difficult or impossible.
The risk factors for developing osteoarthritis include age, gender, obesity, previous joint injuries, genetics, and occupation.
Age is a significant risk factor as the body's ability to repair damaged cartilage decreases with age.
Women are more susceptible to the condition due to hormonal changes, particularly post-menopause, that affect joint health.
Obesity increases the load on joints, leading to wear and tear on the cartilage.
Previous joint injuries, including fractures, dislocations, and ligament tears, can also increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Genetics can also play a role, with some people inheriting a predisposition to the condition.
Occupations and ergonomics, especially people who have jobs that entail repetitive motions or heavy lifting may be more likely to develop joint damage, leading to osteoarthritis.
There is currently no cure for osteoarthritis, but there are many treatment options available to help manage symptoms and improve overall quality of life. These may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation, physical therapy to improve joint function and mobility, and in some cases, surgery to replace severely damaged joints.
In addition to these conventional treatments, there are also many natural remedies and lifestyle changes that can help alleviate symptoms of osteoarthritis. These may include maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular exercise, and stretching, eating a balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids, and using complementary therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and meditation.
Osteopathy can help osteoarthritis in several ways:
1. Pain management: manual techniques are used by osteopaths to assist in pain management. Techniques such as soft tissue manipulation and joint mobilization are used. These techniques can help reduce pain and inflammation in the affected areas.
2. Improved joint mobility: Osteopathy can help improve joint mobility by reducing muscular tension and restoring normal joint movement. This can reduce stiffness in the affected joints.
3. Posture correction: Osteopathy can help correct postural imbalances that can exacerbate osteoarthritis. This can help reduce pressure on the affected joints and improve overall mobility.
4. Exercise prescription: Exercises can be prescribed to improve range of motion, reduce pain and improve overall function. Exercise-based therapy can help reduce inflammation and pain and improve overall function.
5. Lifestyle modifications: An osteopathic practitioner can also prescribe lifestyle modifications such as weight loss, diet changes, and stress reduction techniques. These modifications can help support overall health and reduce risk factors that can exacerbate osteoarthritis.
While osteoarthritis can be a challenging condition to manage, with the right treatment and care, many people are able to maintain an active and fulfilling lifestyle despite their joint pain and stiffness.
ARE YOU experiencing joint pain or stiffness?
Book in for an appointment with our team at Complete Care Osteo in Lilydale. We will assist in determining the underlying cause and develop a personalised treatment plan that meets your unique needs and goals for managing osteoarthritis. 😊
Ph (03) 7036 6525