What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common condition among many adults and is a major contributor of chronic pain and mobility impairment in those with OA(Iwamoto et al., 2011). OA can occur in your upper limb but most often develops in your weight bearing joints such as your hips and knees.
What happens with OA?
With OA, cartilage that is normally found between bones breakdown and causes bone-on-bone friction, leading to pain and inflammation in your joints(Iannone and Lapadula, 2003). As the bone-on-bone friction continues overtime, reactive bone formation occurs and creates bone spurs, which further cause pain in your joints.
The Cycle of Pain with OA
Because people feel pain when they move the joint, most people will feel reluctant to move that joint, leading to disuse and muscle weakness. This creates a vicious cycle because the muscles around the joint are not strong enough to provide support, stressing the importance of exercise to negate the potential deficits.
Benefits of Physiotherapy and Exercise
Research evidence has shown that exercise has beneficial effects on reducing pain, disability, and improving functional abilities in individuals with mild-to-moderate OA(Golightly et al., 2012). Before you start increasing your physical activity levels, it is important to speak to your physiotherapist or chiropractor so you can both discuss what type of exercise would be most beneficial for you. The benefits from specific exercises that can be prescribed by a physiotherapist or chiropractor are not limited to just function, but have also been associated with increased physiological status as well (Tanaka et al., 2015). Various forms of exercise effective in reducing the signs and symptoms of OA include aerobic-endurance activities such as walking and cycling, strength training, balance-neuromuscular training, and water-based exercise programs (Golightly et al., 2012).
Golightly, Y. M., Allen, K. D. and Caine, D. J. (2012) 'A comprehensive review of the effectiveness of different exercise programs for patients with osteoarthritis', Phys Sportsmed, 40(4), pp. 52-65.
Iannone, F. and Lapadula, G. (2003) 'The pathophysiology of osteoarthritis', Aging Clin Exp Res, 15(5), pp. 364-72.
Iwamoto, J., Sato, Y., Takeda, T. and Matsumoto, H. (2011) 'Effectiveness of exercise for osteoarthritis of the knee: A review of the literature', World J Orthop, 2(5), pp. 37-42.
Tanaka, R., Ozawa, J., Kito, N. and Moriyama, H. (2015) 'Does exercise therapy improve the health-related quality of life of people with knee osteoarthritis? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials', Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 27(10), pp. 3309-3314.