What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis starts with the roughening and thinning of the cartilage that covers the bone in our joints. The body starts to try and ‘repair’ this loss of cartilage by the following processes:
- Tiny bits of extra bone (osteophytes) can grow at the ends of a bone within the joint.
- There can be an increase in the amount of thick fluid inside the joint.
- The joint capsule can stretch, and the joint may lose its shape.
Osteoarthritis usually affects people from the age of 45 years and onwards. The joints of the body most affected are:
Diagnosis can be made clinically without the need for an x-ray in people who:
- Are 45 years or over
- Have activity-related joint pain
- And no morning joint stiffness lasting for no more than 30minutes
The core treatment for the management of osteoarthritis is exercise and weight management
It can be hard to keep moving when you have arthritis, but doing regular and consistent exercise, even though may initially increase pain, will be beneficial for your joints.
People with osteoarthritis who are overweight would benefit from weight-loss as this is likely to reduce pain and improve their quality of life and function. For example, for people who are overweight with knee osteoarthritis, every extra 1lb of weight they are carrying is equal to an extra 4lb of pressure through their knees.
Long term adherence to exercise increases its benefits by:
- Reducing pain
- Improving muscle strength, keeping joints strong and well supported.
- Reducing joint stiffness
- Improving your balance
- Improving energy levels
- Helping to manage you weight
- Boosting your mood.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen are recommended for the management of pain to support therapeutic exercise as outlined above.
There is no strong evidence of a benefit from taking paracetamol.
Weak opioids (such as codeine, dihydrocodeine) can be used infrequently for short term pain relief. Strong opioids such as Tramadol and morphine are not recommended.
*If you are currently taking opioids, especially strong opioids for your osteoarthritis, it is likely you will be contacted by YMG as you approach your annual review. This will include a discussion regarding adjusting your pain medications in line with recommendations from the latest evidence base of what is effective and safe for you and management of your pain.
Move for Surgery
Staying active is important if you’re waiting for or recovering from surgery. If you’re fit and strong, your surgery has the best chance of success, and you’ll likely recover quicker.
Click on the link and you’ll find tailor-made, follow-along exercise routines for hip, shoulder and knee replacement, as well as full body workouts to help you maintain overall fitness.