JOINT PAIN

Tips & treat­ments for joint pain from os­teoarthri­tis

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Phebe Corey

Joint pain is an ex­tremely com­mon cause of re­duced func­tion and dis­abil­ity. This ar­ti­cle ex­plains how to iden­tify and ad­dress one of the most com­mon causes of joint pain, os­teoarthri­tis. How­ever, it is rec­om­mended that you con­sult your gen­eral prac­ti­tioner or phys­io­ther­a­pist, should you be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing any joint pain symp­toms to en­sure an ac­cu­rate di­ag­no­sis.

WHAT IS A JOINT?

The proper term for the word joint is ar­tic­u­la­tion and is the lo­ca­tion where two or more bones make con­tact. The role of a joint is ei­ther to al­low move­ment or limit ex­ces­sive move­ment. There are sev­eral dif­fer­ent types of joints de­pend­ing on their func­tion. At the end of the bones where the joint is lo­cated is a sub­stance known as car­ti­lage, which is soft and slip­pery and al­lows the bones to glide over each other. It also acts as a shock ab­sorber when you put weight through your joints, for ex­am­ple when you run or jump.

WHY DO JOINTS BE­COME PAINFUL?

There are many dif­fer­ent con­di­tions that can cause joint pain, in­clud­ing os­teoarthri­tis, rheuma­toid arthri­tis, bur­si­tis, gout and soft

tis­sue strains and sprains.

Arthri­tis is the in­flam­ma­tion of the joint and is used to de­scribe many painful con­di­tions af­fect­ing joints. The most com­mon is known as os­teoarthri­tis (OA). To­day I am look­ing specif­i­cally at OA. For more in­for­ma­tion on the other forms of arthri­tis click here.

OA is a dis­ease that af­fects the whole joint in­clud­ing bone, car­ti­lage, lig­a­ments and mus­cles. The top layer of car­ti­lage breaks down and wears away which al­lows the bony sur­faces of ad­join­ing joints to rub to­gether. Over time the bone may also lose its nor­mal shape and grow bony spurs. To­gether this leads to a de­crease in the joint’s range of mo­tion and in­flam­ma­tion of the tis­sues around the joint.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF OS­TEOARTHRI­TIS?

It tends to come on slowly, over months or even years. The most com­mon symp­toms are pain and stiff­ness, par­tic­u­larly af­ter get­ting out of bed or af­ter sit­ting for a long time. Some­times the joints will swell and of­ten there is a crunch­ing or grat­ing feel­ing. Symp­toms can grad­u­ally worsen to the point of sig­nif­i­cant lim­i­ta­tion with daily ac­tiv­i­ties. An X-ray may show the nar­row­ing of the gap be­tween your joints and any bony spurs. Your GP will di­ag­nose OA based on your symp­toms, X-ray re­sult and their phys­i­cal as­sess­ment.

WHAT TREAT­MENT IS AVAIL­ABLE?

The treat­ment for OA will de­pend on which joint/s are af­fected and the sever­ity of your con­di­tion. The con­ser­va­tive op­tion is of­ten tri­alled first, with the goal of min­imis­ing pain and max­imis­ing func­tion, us­ing the skills of a phys­io­ther­a­pist in con­junc­tion with med­i­ca­tion pre­scribed by the GP. Joint sup­port­ive com­pres­sion gar­ments can also aid in symp­tom re­lief and im­prove func­tion. Joint re­place­ment surgery is the last re­sort when your symp­toms can no longer be man­aged con­ser­va­tively. The most com­mon joint re­place­ments are of hips and knees.

A PHYS­IO­THER­A­PIST CAN HELP

Be­ing over­weight plays a ma­jor role in the de­vel­op­ment of OA and sig­nif­i­cantly ex­ac­er­bates the symp­toms. A phys­io­ther­a­pist will guide you through safe and ap­pro­pri­ate ex­er­cises to aid weight loss while min­imis­ing pain in the af­fected joint/s, with a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on non­weight bear­ing ex­er­cise such as swim­ming or cy­cling.

There are also joint spe­cific ex­er­cises aimed at strength­en­ing the mus­cles sup­port­ing the arthritic joint that a phys­io­ther­a­pist will guide

THE MOST COM­MON FORM OF JOINT PAIN IS OS­TEOARTHRI­TIS WITH PAIN, STIFF­NESS & IN­FLAM­MA­TION

THE TREAT­MENT GOAL IS TO MIN­IMISE PAIN AND MAX­IMISE FUNC­TION OF THE JOINT

you through. click here for an in­for­ma­tion sheet re­gard­ing phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and OA.

An­other ma­jor role of a phys­io­ther­a­pist is in the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion af­ter joint re­place­ment surgery. It is im­por­tant to be up and mov­ing on the days im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing surgery to ob­tain the best out­come for the new joint.

TOP TIPS

• Be pro-ac­tive and aim to stay within a healthy weight range to min­imise ex­ces­sive load through your joints to help de­lay the on­set of OA.

• Ex­er­cises can help to strengthen the mus­cles sup­port­ing your joints. If you are un­sure where to start, see a phys­io­ther­a­pist for an in­di­vid­ual pro­gram that you can do at home or join a group clin­i­cal Pi­lates class.

• There are many dif­fer­ent con­di­tions that can cause joint pain other than OA, there­fore it is im­por­tant to see your GP or phys­io­ther­a­pist for an ac­cu­rate di­ag­no­sis and man­age­ment plan.

Phebe Corey is a phys­io­ther­a­pist and the founder of Ar­tic­fit-Joint sup­port­ive com­pres­sion wear. Phebe was a semi-finalist in The Aus­tralian Women’s Weekly Women of the Fu­ture com­pe­ti­tion in 2015, for her brand and vi­sion of em­pow­er­ing women to stay ac­tive. Phebe may be con­tacted here.

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