Part of the normal process of aging includes gradual articular cartilage deterioration. Cartilage matrix weakens, develops cracks and fissures, and in some cases, will flake off, leaving bone exposed. In some people, this gradual process can lead to inflammation, joint instability, and subsequent further degeneration. People tell me every day “don’t get old”, but with little in terms of an alternative, we must manage with what we have.
Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent joint disease and one of the most common causes of disability worldwide. While primarily an age-related disease, it can also affect younger individuals with a history of joint trauma.
We are all living with joint degeneration as we get older. For some, this process of degeneration happens more quickly and that depends on hereditary factors, history of disease or trauma, mechanics, etc. It affects how we function independently. Our ability to function depends on our pain tolerance, strength, living environment, (ie number of stairs), and the help we have from others in our lives.
As someone suffering from knee or hip osteoarthritis you may start to have difficulty ascending stairs, walking a certain distance, or getting in and out of the car. It is at this threshold of tolerance that people call us or their family doctor for help. You may be diagnosed with osteoarthritis, but not bad enough to get a joint replacement. Problems like pain and inflammation can be addressed conservatively with prescriptions, and mechanical problems like stiffness, weakness, and physical functioning can also be addressed with physiotherapy.
By setting goals in physiotherapy, we can improve your ability to function in your daily life and get you back to what you enjoyed doing. We can’t reverse damage to your joints but we can improve function and reduce pain.
Some of the goals we set in physiotherapy are as follows:
- reduce pain and reduce intake of pain and antiinflammatory medications
- Improve sleep
- Improve level of fitness, strength, and joint range of motion
- Reduce stiffness
- improve activity tolerance so you have energy to do what you love
- Protect joints and improve stability so reduce further cartilage damage
- Improve quality of life
Using exercise and education we can flatten the trajectory of decline in function and keep you independent.
See The Arthritis Society for more information and call us for a consultation.