Arthritis and Rheumatism

Osteoarthritis causes joints to become inflamed and painful. This pain often leads to secondary weakness in the muscles surrounding a joint. Inflammation, pain and weakness can be helped by physiotherapy whether they are acute or chronic stages.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. OA is caused by general ‘wear and tear’ on joint cartilage, causing pain and joint inflammation. OA most commonly affects people who are middle-aged or older. OA can range from very mild to severe. It generally affects the hands and the large weight bearing joints such as the knees, hips, feet and the back. To have a certain degree of OA can almost be considered a normal part of ageing. A common misunderstanding is that OA is always a progressive and serious disease.

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

The severity of symptoms varies. Typical symptoms are pain, stiffness, and reduced range of movement at the joint. The stiffness tends to be worse first thing in the morning but usually eases as the days goes on. Swelling and inflammation of an affected joint can sometimes occur.

Other factors that indicate osteoarthritis are:

  • An affected joint tends to look a little larger than normal. This is due to overgrowth of the bone next to damaged cartilage and sometimes swelling.
  • You may have reduced mobility if a knee or hip is badly affected.
  • No symptoms may occur. Quite a number of people have X-ray changes that indicate some degree of OA but have no symptoms. The opposite can also be true. That is, you may have quite severe symptoms but with only minor changes seen on the X-ray.

Physiotherapy measures to help treat osteoarthritis

Pain and inflammation can be relieved through electrotherapy and gentle mobilisation. The Physiotherapy And injury Centre will prescribe a personal exercise programme to help protect the inflamed joints against further damage and strengthen the appropriate muscles around them whilst maintaining range of movement.