Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of joint disease due to the breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bone which can cause joint pain, stiffness, redness, and swelling. If your doctor has just informed you that you have osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, what should you do?
The best thing to do is start by calling your physiotherapist for an assessment to determine what stage of the condition you have, how much pain you are in, and how functional you are.
Based on the assessment, the physiotherapist will:
- Provide ultrasound or electrotherapeutic treatments, with or without acupuncture, for pain relief
- Prescribe a home exercise program to increase strength, flexibility, and aerobic capacity
- Educate you on how to manage your condition and protect your joint from further “wear and tear”
The latest research findings regarding exercise for hip and knee osteoarthritis state:
- In the case of strengthening exercises, exercise frequency influences pain. Strengthening exercises done four or more times per week was found to be moderately effective for pain relief for people with knee OA.
However, the efficacy of exercise on pain relief disappears after exercise is discontinued, therefore exercise must be performed consistently to maintain the efficacy.
- Both aerobic and home-based quadriceps strengthening exercises reduce pain and disability in knee OA.
- An approach combining exercises to increase strength, flexibility, and aerobic capacity is most effective in management of lower limb OA.
- Muscle strengthening exercises, with or without weight-bearing and aerobic exercises, are effective for pain relief in knee OA. In particular, for pain relief by short-term exercise intervention, the most effective exercise amongst the three types is non-weight-bearing strengthening exercise.
- Aquatic exercise appears to have some beneficial short term effects for patients with hip and knee OA, while no long term effects have been documented.
For people who have significant mobility or functional limitations and are unable to exercise on land, aquatic exercise appears to be a legitimate alternative that may enable people to successfully participate in exercise.
More resources regarding osteoarthritis can be found in the Canadian Physiotherapy website under the Osteoarthritis sections.
Please contact us and we can show you how to work, perform recreational activities, and do your favourite regular activities while protecting your joints.