Osteoarthritis (OA) is caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage and can affect all joints in the body. The most commonly affected areas are the knees, hips, low back, neck, and the digits of the hands and feet. Osteoarthritis affects 3.3%-3.6% of the population globally. The risk factors for osteoarthritis include age, gender, weight, anatomy, and history of trauma. The severity of osteoarthritis can be evaluated through medical imaging.
The following are characteristics and clinical presentation of OA:
- Use-related pain
- Decrease range of motion and flexibility
- Instability, Weakness
OA can be managed conservatively through physiotherapy or chiropractic interventions. Pharmacological or surgical intervention may also be of benefit depending on the severity of the joint. Assistive devices can aid in offloading the damaged joint. Physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment for osteoarthritis focuses on reducing pain and increasing physical function through education and exercises. An individualized exercise program consisting of stretching and strengthening the muscles surrounding the affected joint will improve the well-being of the individual.
The following are the benefits of an individualized exercise program:
- Decrease pain and stiffness
- Improve mobility and function
- Improve muscles length and elasticity
- Improve cartilage
- Reduce risk of injury
- Delay surgical intervention
A physiotherapist and chiropractor can help identify the main issues affecting an osteoarthritic joint and create a treatment program based on your needs and goals.