The word Arthritis comes from the Greek language and means joint inflammation. We all have a different understanding of the term, depending on what we know of it. We all know older people with aching arthritic knees but there are several types of arthritis. We are experinced in the diagnosis and treatment of various types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis treatment.
Arthritis is an inflammatory reaction of our body as it attempts to heal damage within a joint. The lining of the joint responds with an increased blood flow, swelling and pain which teaches us to protect the area, so it can repair. If we continue to injure the area, the very smooth joint surface and the bone beneath it break down, become rough and are gradually absorbed. Bone grows into the joint ligaments as the body builds buttresses to protect the joint from damaging forces and we can see these as osteophytes on x-rays and scans.
Osteoarthritis treatment is in heavy demand. This is the most common arthritis, beginning within most of us from our early 20’s but commonly symptomatic in the 40’s and beyond. Most frequently attributed to ageing, it is more related to how we spend our time as we get older and our genetic influences. We see many cases of older people recovering from their symptoms and leading active lives again. Osteoarthritis often occurs in hips, knees, behind the kneecap, in ankles and shoulders.
Under-activity: During activity, our body adapts to the increased load of the activity by thickening and strengthening tissues to cope with the increased strains. If tissues such as muscle, ligament or even bones are not used enough, they will weaken and degenerate, much the same as occurs in overtraining. Inactivity is very damaging for joints and we need to maintain a healthy level of stretching and physical activity for at least thirty minutes every day to keep joints healthy.
Over-use: Our body adapts to the healthy load of training by thickening and strengthening tissues to cope with the increased strains. If tissues such as a muscle, ligament and bones are heavily or repeatedly loaded without enough time to recover and heal, they will break down. Over-training often occurs in repetitive sports such as swimming, running and football but can occur in any joint during many occupations, such as the fingers with keying.
Traumatic Injury: During an impact there is generally a crush effect which breaks the structures at the point of pressure. Arthritis can begin when the cartilage on the bone surface and the bone beneath are bruised or broken, resulting in inflammation as healing begins. Fractures into a joint surface disrupt the cartilage and cause accelerated wear and degeneration. Some joint injuries will be mild but fail to heal if the causative activity is continued, while more serious injuries produce instant swelling and acute pain. These injuries are common in all football codes, netball, basket ball, running and hockey.
These are grouped types of arthritis which are disease processes and include conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis arthritis. They have a high inflammatory component, requiring medication and gentle activity to maintain function. Sometimes injections and surgery are required and your Physiotherapist will be involved in the medical management.
The symptoms are different depending on the type of arthritis. There may be stiffness and ache in a gradual onset over use injury and severe pain with an acute crush or fracture injury. Generally pain and stiffness is mild initially with slow onset injuries and acute strong pain occurs with tissue tears, fractures and acute episodes. The more severe the initial pain, the greater the likelihood severe damage has occurred. The disease types of arthritis are typified by gradual onset of dull aching pain and swelling in multiple joints.
The diagnosis and choice of treatment will need to be made by your Physiotherapist. A thorough examination is sufficient to diagnose most problems and other investigations such as x-rays, ultrasound, CT or MRI scans will be arranged if extra information is required. Your Physiotherapist will identify and correct any factors which have contributed to the development of the arthritis and arrange further investigation if necessary.
No matter which type of arthritis is present, our focus is on identifying the pain producing structures, repairing damage, restoring normal mechanics and relieving the pain. The priorities are established during a comprehensive investigation and consideration of the many factors involved and may include:-
Anti-inflammatories and pain killers
Compression bandaging or splinting
Lifestyle changes and limitation of damaging activities
Body weight reduction advice
Correction of biomechanical anomalies
Provision of orthotics, mobility aids and footwear advice
Providing a return to activity plan
Management may require the use of a sling, splints, crutches or a walking stick to reduce the load on the tissues. As the injury begins healing, your Physiotherapist will advise a graduated return to activity and exercise program, without an increase in symptoms. Depending on which tissues are injured, there will be stretches, strengthening and mobility exercises to return maximum function and reduce the chance of the arthritis deteriorating.
Arthritis may recover well with Physiotherapy management and the involvement of your medical team. Depending on the type of arthritis, the goal is to achieve maximum pain reduction, function and optimum management into the future.
Many people have pain which they incorrectly believe is untreatable arthritis pain. You may achieve an excellent result with Physiotherapy. Phone us now on (08) 9481 7677 for your Physiotherapy assessment and we will tell you how we can help you, or click here to contact us for more information about osteoarthritis treatment in Perth. Patients from all over Western Australia choose the Perth Physiotherapy and Sports Injuries Centre, in the Perth CBD.