• Arthritis, it doesn’t have to be a life sentence

    Too often we see patients that have had an x-ray done and been told they have arthritis and will likely need a joint replacement now or in the future but don’t often get told what they can do to help it.

    There is so much you can do to help yourself!

    So, here’s a little bit about what OA is, where you actually get your pain from (it’s not the cartilage) and a brief summary on all the stuff that some very good research has shown helps reduce the secondary pain and improve function.

    Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition, particularly in the knees and hips where the smooth, hard cartilage that forms a smooth surface on the ends of your bones wears down. This cartilage is a firm, rubbery material that’s main function is to reduce friction and act like a shock absorber. Things that cause arthritis to happen (or happen earlier) is past injury to the joint (such as past cartilage or ligament injury), obesity, genetics and family history to name a few.

    How does OA cause pain? Firstly, you don’t actually get pain from your cartilage – you can’t, there is no pain receptors in your joint cartilage. So, even if an x-ray shows cartilage degeneration, that doesn’t mean it is causing you pain, you can have cartilage degeneration and be totally pain free! Arthritis causes a joint to gradually become stiffer and lose elasticity. When pain occurs, it is due to loss of cartilage and subsequent increase in load on the tissues around. This can cause a number of things to become sore, such as the bone marrow close to it, the joint capsule or synovial lining as well as ligaments, which are on increased stretch and load.

    So what can you do to help knee and hip Osteoarthritis?

    Guided and Graded strengthening has been PROVEN to reduce pain… increase joint health and increase function. Exercise has been shown to decrease inflammation as well as decreasing stress on the joint by improving muscle strength and integrity.

    It is so important to know that exercising and loading a joint with arthritis does not do it harm. Loading a joint with compressive load has been proven to actually maintain cartilage homeostasis helps

    Without regular physical activity, your muscle strength decreases, which means you would have less and less support for your knee (or hip etc) and you would get stuck in a downward spiral. Whereas we know for knees at least that to stabilise joints and decrease the chance of OA getting worse, strength in the muscles around it such as the quads is essential.

    With osteoarthritis, there is some things you cannot change, but there is certainly some things that you can. Improve the strength of your muscles and exercise to increase joint stability, shock absorption capacity and improve joint health.

    What have you got to lose?