Osteoarthritis is an inflammation of the joints in the body. This may affect peripheral joints e.g. knees, hips, shoulders, fingers and also affect the joints of the spine (here it is sometimes referred to as spondylitis).
Joints may become hot, swollen and painful and their range of motion may be reduced. Although the inflammatory process is progressive, with physiotherapy the symptoms may be alleviated and the progression of the inflammatory process may be slowed down. A number of options are open to your physiotherapist to address the symptoms affecting the joints with osteoarthritis.
The joints can be protected with a controlled exercise programme prescribed by the physiotherapist. These exercises will strengthen the muscles to provide support around the inflamed joint/joints. Exercises will usually be of relatively low intensity in order that they do not strain the inflamed joints. Exercises may also be beneficial for weight bearing joints if they are used as part of a weight loss programme.
Relevant exercises may in fact be all that is required if the osteoarthritis is addressed in its early stages. However often exercise will be used alongside other modalities to optimise the reduction of symptoms. Other modalities may include massage and stretching, electrotherapy, hot and cold therapies and, if appropriate, acupuncture to provide pain relief. With this range of options open to your physiotherapist an individual programme best suited to your own needs will always be available. This programme will be tailor-made with respect to your individual condition and necessities of your life style, be that the physical or sedentary nature of your work or your sporting aspirations.