OSTEOARTHRITIS: WHAT IS IT AND HOW CAN PHYSICAL THERAPY HELP?
Osteoarthritis is a progressive, degenerative joint disease affecting the articular cartilage of the bones. The articular cartilage is a tissue that provides a cushioning effect at the ends of the bones that forms the joint, making the movement of the joints smoother and easier. Osteoarthritis is known as OA or the “wear and tear” of the joints.
Osteoarthritis manifests pain and stiffness of joints. Usually, it affects the weight-bearing joints of the body, such as the knees and the hips. However, it can also affect the spine and the small joints of the hands and feet. Other signs and symptoms of OA include:
- Swelling of the joint
- Grinding, Clicking, Cracking sounds during joint movements
- Aching of joints
- Weakness of muscles around joints
- Difficulty doing functional activities, such as walking, due to
Aging is one of the risk factors in osteoarthritis. According to the American College of Rheumatology, OA mostly affects middle-aged to elderly individuals. It is considered to be a disability in the elderly population. Additionally, people’s weight plays a factor in osteoarthritis. Obesity can increase the risk of having OA as extra weight increases the stress placed on the joints. Moreover, an individual can also have osteoarthritis if other members of their family have OA as well. Lastly, trauma to the joints from overuse can cause OA as well.
Unfortunately, osteoarthritis does not have a cure, but it can be treated in order to delay the progression of the disease, and physical therapy is one of the treatments! How can physical therapy help individuals with osteoarthritis?
1. It can help to increase the range of motion of the affected joints since osteoarthritis can cause stiffness of the affected joints
2. It can teach and help patients with OA to strengthen the muscles that support the affected joint.
3. It can help to improve the balance of individuals. In OA, balance is affected due to muscle impairment/weakness, decreased function of the joint, and decreased mobility.
If you are suffering from osteoarthritis, what are you waiting for? Chesapeake Bay Aquatic and Physical Therapy can help you!