Living with Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) impacts 15% of the population, and is a joint disease causing degradation of the cartilage and bone around the joint, with associated muscle weakness. Symptoms include joint pain, tenderness, stiffness and swelling. OA can commonly affects the spine and load-bearing joints such as the hip and knee – ¬however, it’s also common in the hands and shoulders. OA can be quite debilitating in severe cases, leading to loss of functional ability, muscular de-conditioning and significant postural changes in the spine.
Don’t stop moving!
OA may be degenerative, but whatever you do, do not stop moving! Moving the joints at a steady, flowing pace can help regenerate the joint and improve its range of movement. Time and patience is required, as cartilage is slow-growing and has a poor blood supply. It’s important to get joints moving, as the muscles need to strengthen to support the joint’s function.
Osteoarthritis treatment at Physio Gym
Our Physios and Exercise Physiologists aim to re-train and enhance muscle strength around OA joints, and reduce the biomechanical load. As part of the process they:
- Conduct a movement assessment of the affected joint(s)
- Determine if a postural element is causing the joint to be overloaded
- Manage pain, swelling and restrictions
- Recommend manual therapy to increase joint mobility and reduce over-protective muscle guarding
- Develop a specific program that fits your needs, consisting of Gym, Pilates, Gyrotonic® and home-based exercises
- Direct you to Physio Gym classes designed to strengthen your body.
Exercises to help improve pain-free range of motion at the joint include:
- Active cyclical stretching, which is done using our Gyrotonic® and Pilates equipment, or small apparatus like the freeform board or spinal corrector
- Local strengthening exercise to help stabilise the joint
- For knees and hip OA, low-load cyclical exercises on cardio machine or freeform board, to help nourish the joint
- Low weight/high repetition-based exercises on the Precor cable machines
- Exercises that reduce the biomechanical overload on the joint
- Full body exercises and classes such as Gyrotonic®, Pilates, body blades, Physio Pump and Freeform classes.
Hydrotherapy and OA
Hydrotherapy can be very valuable for managing OA, particularly for the knees, hips and spine. If required, we can organise a physio to attend a pool to help develop a program.
GYROTONIC® – the Hydrotherapy alternative
The good news is that you don’t actually need to get wet! Gyrotonic® exercise is fantastic for treating OA of the knee, hip, shoulders, wrist and hands. Gyrotonic is a low weight bearing and cyclical exercise system, and it may actually achieve better results than Hydrotherapy, being more targeted and controlled.
OA and pre-op management
If you’re considering a total knee or hip replacement it’s highly beneficial to attend Physio Gym™ physiotherapy before your operation and begin some pre-operative training. Doing this will speed your recovery and give you extra confidence in knowing where to start, and what to expect after the surgery.