Let’s talk about common myths of Arthritis
First of all, what is arthritis?
The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is caused by the breakdown of cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. Without the protective layer, the bones to rub together, causing stiffness, pain and loss of joint movement in the joint. The knee is one of the joints most commonly affected by OA. Arthritis can also affect other joints in the body like hips, spine, hands, fingers etc. It mostly affects the weight bearing joints of the body and can affect a joint on one side of body or both sides.
What does arthritis look like?
Typical signs of arthritis are morning pain and stiffness in the joints that last for around 30 minutes, after which they warm up and decrease in pain. Also, a common symptom is swelling around the painful joints. Due to this pain and stiffness, the joints are not as mobile as they normally are. This affects everyday function like getting in and out of bed, walking, standing up from sitting, getting into and out of a car, and going up/down the stairs.
What are some common myths about OA?
– Getting aches/pains in joints with age is normal
– Exercising will make my arthritis worse
– The only solution to arthritis is surgery
– Resting is helpful
While these are common practices and beliefs, these are simply not true! Lets unpack it.
Let us break this Myth:
As one ages, the body does undergo degenerative changes. This does not necessarily mean it is normal to feel the aches or pain through the joints. With age, the bones may become porous and less strong and their capacity to regenerate new bone is reduced. However, research has proven that bones react positively to
strengthening exercises which can keep them strong and healthy.
Exercises like walking, aqua-therapy, Pilates, yoga, ta-chi have all been proven to effective in terms of increasing strength and reducing pain.
With arthritis, it is recommended to off-load (reduce amount of pressure on the bony part) the joints by strengthening the muscles surrounding them. Using a walking aid and or using an orthotic can also help. Hydro-therapy is suggested to be the best way to off-load joints and get them stronger at the same time. This in turn would help to avoid surgeries, which should be the last resort.
Static postures like sitting or lying in one position can make the joint pain worse because joints need lubrication just like the car’s engine needs oil. When you move, the joints get lubricated with synovial fluid around the capsule which keeps the cushions in joints supple. Relative rest from aggravating movements is recommended to de-load the joint but complete rest is a big NO- NO!
How can Physiotherapy help you and your arthritis?
To start, we do an assessment of your mobility, function and strength to devise an individualized treatment plan. The exercises are designed to improve the joint mobility, strength, coordination and balance to achieve optimal function.
Treatments will also target:
-Pain relief techniques by teaching you proper posture and body mechanics to off-load the arthritic joints. Will also suggest and show you how to use an assistive device for walking like walker or canes.
-Will also recommend adjunct treatments like use of compression garments, brace or splints, use of orthotics or shoe inserts if needed.
Get in touch with one of the members of our team to help you get stronger through your bones!