What Can a Physiotherapist Do for You If You Have Osteoarthritis?

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Let’s start with an explanation of what osteoarthritis is.

Osteoarthritis is a long-term condition that affects the articular cartilage, subchondral bone, and soft tissues surrounding the joints. The most usually affected areas are the hands, spine, and joints such as hips, knees, and ankles.

Although osteoarthritis might worsen with time, it is not necessarily progressive and is not always an inevitable feature of aging.

By addressing risk factors such as obesity, you can better control your symptoms and increase your physical activity. Obesity increases the risk of osteoarthritis by four times. Being overweight increases the risk of osteoarthritis by two times.

Osteoarthritis isn’t usually degenerative, and it doesn’t always worsen over time, contrary to popular assumptions. Avoiding movement and exercise might aggravate osteoarthritis. For a long time, the advice has been to “relax, avoid pain,” but osteoarthritis appears to be degenerative because of the concomitant muscle atrophy and decline in strength and mobility of the affected joint.

At all stages of the condition, conservative management including exercise, weight loss, and education is recommended to help you manage your osteoarthritis at any stage.

Surgery isn’t the only option available to you, and it shouldn’t be your first choice. Studies shows that only about 10% of people on joint replacement waiting lists included weight loss in their osteoarthritis care plan. Even if patients require surgery, in the end, weight loss and exercise are still the greatest ways to enhance functional outcomes before and after surgery. Exercise can help to postpone or even eliminate the need for surgery.

When it comes to health, there are a lot of misunderstandings, and osteoarthritis is no exception. We’re here to help you learn more about the disease and how to manage your symptoms.

If you’re thinking about seeing a physiotherapist but aren’t sure how to go about it, we’ll show you how they assess a client with knee osteoarthritis. We hope that by being transparent, you will see that it is not at all daunting and should not be avoided.

Here are the steps taken by a physiotherapist and an exercise physiologist to assess a client with knee osteoarthritis are shown below.

STEP 1: Complete Medical history

  • Symptoms: single or multi-site osteoarthritis, onset, type, nature, pattern
  • Medical disorders or musculoskeletal problems can coexist
  • Medications
  • Social support, exercise, leisure, and hobbies are examples of daily activities.
  • Atypical findings point to another explanation for the complaints, necessitating more inquiry.

STEP 2: Evaluate the client’s function

Checking mobility during daily chores, bone shape, skin integrity, and posture, joint range of motion, muscle tone and strength, balance, and flexibility.

STEP 3: Explanation of the findings

Assist the client in understanding the results of their evaluation and which portions of the current recommended guidelines apply to them (e.g. weight loss, prescription of mobility aids, falls prevention etc.)

STEP 4: Prescribe a workout routine that is appropriate

Prescribe a suitable fitness regimen for the client and track it for 6 to 12 weeks to ensure that the client’s level of exercise is gradually increased.

Lower body and core strengthening, balancing, stretches, and/or water-based therapy are all possible exercises.

STEP 5: Provide Treatment

Provide the client with the essential manual therapy treatment to help them with their pain and function. *Physiotherapist only.