MOVE TO IMPROVE?
Osteoarthritis is degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone, most common from middle age onward. It causes pain and stiffness, especially in the hip, knee, and thumb joints.
The words osteoarthritis, degeneration, disease, degenerative disc disease etc. are emotive, conjuring up a picture of life with constant pain, joint stiffness, deformity and potential disability. Most people are able to live perfectly normal active lives despite a diagnosis of osteoarthritis.
As we grow older our skin becomes wrinkly, or our hair goes grey, so ‘age related wear and tear’ puts the condition in perspective. Changes in life style, weight loss and general exercise are usually sufficient to managethe condition. X-rays will confirm the presence of arthritis in a joint, but remember many people over a certain age will have arthritic changes but no significant symptoms.
Pain and joint stiffness can have a significant impact on quality of life but some of the pain may be due to tightening and contracture of the joint and soft tissue that surrounds it rather than the actual arthritis itself.
Advice for Arthritis sufferers
- Regular gentle aerobic exercise – Cycling, swimming, yoga or Tai Chi, but walking is the best and costs nothing!
- Specific mobilising and strengthening exercises – contact your Physiotherapist or GP for appropriate exercises.
- Keep your weight under control being overweight significantly increases the strain on your joints. Losing just a few pounds will make a significant difference.
- Use walking poles to spread the load on affected knees and ankles.
- Wear supportive shoes with a sorbothane insole (a shock absorbing insert for your shoes), to reduce impact on joints.
- Set yourself a few goals – but be SMART they must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed.
- Work out what is essential and what is desirable, and pace your activities to make sure you do some of both.
- A hot water bottle or wheat pack may help but if there is significant swelling, an ice pack may be better.