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How to Manage Osteoarthritis?

How to Manage Osteoarthritis?


For many individuals who suffer with osteoarthritis, learning how to manage the pain is vital for ensuring that they can still live a healthy and fulfilling life without it affecting their daily activities.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition. It is caused by the general wear and tear of the joints over the years. It occurs when the cartilage, which cushions our joints, begins to break down. This causes swelling, pain and stiffness within the joints. Osteoarthritis is more commonly found among those who are 40 years and older. However, there have been cases in which younger individuals have developed the condition.

People do not know the cause of osteoarthritis, but there are risk factors. These are age, gender, obesity, a previous joint injury and family history.

Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Many people miss the early signs of osteoarthritis because they are mild.  However, as time goes on joint pain will begin to worsen.

The main symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Stiffness in a joint especially after a period of inactivity such as getting out of bed first thing in the morning or after sitting for a long time
  • Swelling and tenderness around the affected joint. This area will often be red and feel warm to the touch indicating that there is an inflammation in the affected joint.
  • A crunching feeling or sound from bone rubbing on bone described as crepitus.

As the cartilage begins to deteriorate, bone surfaces become less protected and become more susceptible to damage. This results in decreased movement within the joint and can also cause the joint to lock and ligaments to become lax.

Osteoarthritis is not a curable condition but with the right exercise program and treatments, it can be manageable.

The Management of Osteoarthritis

Physiotherapy plays a big part in the management of osteoarthritic pain. The aim of treatment is to decrease inflammation in the joint, improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles around the affected joint.

Your physiotherapist will assess the extent of the degeneration in the joint and tailor an exercise program suited for you. The three main goals of exercise for osteoarthritis are to improve range of motion, strength and aerobic capacity.

Range of motion exercises include gentle stretching and knee flexion/extension movements. These help to maintain a normal movement range within the joint and aim to relieve stiffness and pain. Aerobic exercises help to manage osteoarthritis pain by improving cardiovascular fitness, controlling weight and overall body function. Swimming is a good option as the buoyancy and warmth of the water will help to sooth and support aching joints. Finally, strengthening exercises aim to increase the strength of the muscles surrounding the joint which will help to protect and support the affected joint.

If you are experiencing osteoarthritic pain and would like to book an appointment, you can contact us here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic. Our physiotherapists are trained in treating a range of joint conditions and injuries.


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