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Arthritis | Osteoarthritis

Often, aches and pains are defined using the umbrella term “Arthritis”. In reality, there are various types and forms of arthritis. Most common forms of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or common “wear and tear”, degenerative arthritis, infective and juvenile arthritis. Each type of arthritis differs in symptoms and requires different treatment.

Just like any other disease, there is a severity scale with two polar extremes as well as varying points that lie between. After determining the severity of the disease, a proper treatment plan can be formed. So, where do you lie on this scale? This is crucial in determining the treatment plan as well as the subsequent outcome (also known as the prognosis).

Arthritis | Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis – Explained

Osteoarthritis/degenerative arthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It’s also known as a degenerative joint disease (DJD). It is important to note that osteoarthritis has a very large spectrum of severity and progression. In its milder form, the patient may just feel some pain while doing an activity. If, however, the disease has progressed substantially, a complete joint replacement may be required.

How Physiotherapy Can Help In Treating Arthritis

Many patients can get comprehensive help in treating and managing their arthritis by utilizing physiotherapy techniques involving stretching, mobilization, muscle strengthening, and postural training. Physiotherapy techniques aim to reduce the symptoms of arthritis by reducing pain and improving functionality, whereas arthritis itself remains in its current form.

An effective physiotherapy regiment involves evaluating each case by using relevant examination as well as treatment procedures to determine the best course of action. Getting a diagnosis of arthritis doesn’t mean the “start of the end”, contrary to popular belief. Although it is generally thought that there is no “cure” for arthritis, it can be effectively managed by determining the stage and progression of the disease.

Arthritis – Treatment

In the very initial stages of arthritis, pain is usually present in the soft tissue that surrounds the joint. This can be treated very effectively using physiotherapy. If the pain is left untreated, it can cause the joint to stiffen up, which subsequently restricts joint mobility, and a very vicious cycle of repeated tissue irritation begins due to these flexibility deficits.

Some secondary effects on muscle functionality such as the muscle becoming inhibited or getting switched off are also caused by arthritis progression. The role of a competent physiotherapist is to identify these secondary elements and implement a correction programme to resolve these issues.

Arthritis – Surgery

When the pain originates from any joint surface, this may be a cause of serious concern. In few cases, treating soft tissues helps unload the joint surfaces and can ease the pain. However, if the surface becomes rough, broken off, or worn away, this will require either “clean up” or an exploratory surgery (also called arthroscopy) or in most serious cases, a joint replacement.