What is Osteoarthritis?

The term arthritis literally means joint inflammation, arth – joint, itis – inflammation.
Osteoarthritis is a common type of arthritis affecting joints called synovial joints. These most commonly include the spine, hands, feet, knees and hips.

How does it affect the joints?

Synovial joints contain cartilage over the joint surfaces, a synovial membrane around the joint, and synovial fluid to lubricate the joint. As osteoarthritis begins to affect the joint it firstly attacks the cartilage which becomes thinner. As the body tries to repair itself, more bone cells form uneven ridges affecting the joint surfaces. The joint space is reduced and the synovial membranes can become inflamed. The joint then follows this pattern of damage and repair.

What are the main causes?

• Increasing age
• Osteoarthritis in the family
• Obesity
• Joint damage e.g. Surgery, overuse / sporting injury

How does that affect me?

The symptoms of osteoarthritis can include – pain, swelling, redness, increased temperature, and a reduced movement in the affected area. The symptoms may depend on the extent of the arthritis.

How do I know if I have osteoarthritis?

Commonly osteoarthritis is diagnosed by the symptoms present, any underlying possible causes and if necessary an X-Ray.

What can be done?

The best initial treatment is a combination of regular gentle exercise, muscle strengthening exercises and pain relief if required. Physiotherapists can treat the painful joints with a variety of methods including joint mobilisations and acupuncture. They can also provide advice on specific strengthening exercises to strengthen and stabilise the joints. Keeping active with exercise like walking, swimming, yoga or your normal exercise routine can give great benefits. Weight loss if necessary can also help reduce the strain on the joints.

For more information, book a consultation with the physiotherapist.