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physiotherapy for osteoarthritis

How Physiotherapy Can Help with Osteoarthritis?

Have you ever felt stiffness in your joints which usually happens when you wake up in the morning and lasts up to half an hour? Maybe you’ve heard your knees, hips or other joints make a grating or crackling sound when you move. Or, perhaps, your joints are swollen and tender with pain, and the pain only gets worse as you use them. If you find yourself struggling with such discomforts, then you may be suffering from osteoarthritis. Physiotherapy for osteoarthritis can be the perfect treatment to ease down your pain and make your life as pleasant as possible.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a medical condition which causes stiffness and pain in the joints. Although it is the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis is just one of around one hundred types of arthritic conditions. Most people experience some form of this condition by the time they reach seventy – for instance – osteoarthritis of the hip, osteoarthritis of the spine or knee osteoarthritis. A less known fact is that osteoarthritis is typically a degenerative joint disease. It occurs when the protective tissue within joints wears down over time and the risk of developing it increases with age.

How Does Osteoarthritis Happen?

Inside the joints, there is a protective tissue called “cartilage”. Cartilage cushions the joint and prevents the bones from rubbing against each other. During usual daily activities, joints suffer from a continuous low level of damage. Our bodies have an inherent capacity to repair the damage itself and, therefore, we don’t experience any symptoms most of the time. However, in osteoarthritis, the cartilage on the ends of the bones breaks down and causes pain, swelling, and problems moving the joint. Sometimes, this condition can also affect nearby bones, causing bony growths called bone spurs or osteophytes.

Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis

Even though age seems to be a leading reason for osteoarthritis, not all people’s joints wear down to the degree that requires clinical treatment as people get older. Additional risk factors that can contribute to osteoarthritis are:

  • Genetics
  • Obesity, especially for knee osteoarthritis
  • Sports-related and other joint injuries caused by repeated movements or overuse.
  • Repeated bleeding into the joints
  • Long-lasting inflammation caused by previous rheumatic illness
  • Metabolic disorders.

With specialised mechanical exercises and heat therapeutic treatments, physiotherapy for osteoarthritis can significantly improve the disease symptoms and provide you with a pain-free life.

What Are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

Half of the people who experience typical usual osteoarthritic symptoms are not aware they have it. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can vary depending on which joint is affected – knees, hips, small joint of the hands, feet or spine.

People with osteoarthritis often have:

  • Limited flexibility
  • Pain related to change of weather
  • Bony lumps at the end or on the middle of joints of fingers
  • Numbness or tingling in an arm or leg.

Pain usually increases with movement and settles with rest. As the condition worsens and the pain becomes more constant and severe, it may make it difficult for the patient to carry out everyday activities.

What Can You Do if You Have Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a long-term condition that can’t be fully cured. But if you are disciplined and regularly follow advice from a licensed physiotherapist, you can manage the pain and maintain the ability to use the affected joints.

Depending on the severity of the condition, symptoms can be reduced with:

  • Regular exercise programs
  • Losing weight
  • Wearing appropriate footwear  
  • Using special devices to reduce joint strain

If your symptoms are more severe, you may need painkillers and an exercise plan supervised by a physiotherapist. Some extreme cases of inflammation require that your doctor removes fluid from the joint and inject it with corticosteroids. This treatment should be applied only if indispensable, as overusing this type of drugs can further damage the joints.

When none of the above is helping, surgery may be the best option to repair, strengthen or replace the damaged joint.


How Can Physiotherapy Help with Osteoarthritis?

If you are looking for natural ways to keep osteoarthritis under control, physiotherapy may be your best answer. It is very effective even with severely damaged joints when supervised by a trained physiotherapist who has knowledge of osteoarthritis.

Once a physio specialist assesses your condition thoroughly with a series of tests and possibly X-ray, they will work together with you to establish the best treatment plan. This plan may include a variety of therapies such as:

  • Remedial Massage
  • Stretching
  • Passive joint mobilisation
  • Osteoarthritis exercise program
  • Diet and weight management
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Electrotherapy
  • Acupuncture or dry needling.

These therapies aim to reduce pain, as well as stretch and strengthen muscles surrounding the affected joints. You will improve the range of movement, which will allow you to take control of your condition and to perform daily functions with less disruption.

Long-term Positive Effects of Physiotherapy for Osteoarthritis

Once you have regained function and your pain is under control, you will probably need to initiate some type of home exercise program to maintain the achieved results and reduce future flare-ups.

If you are like most people and lack discipline, you will probably stop exercising as soon as your pain decreases or as your joints become somewhat functional. However, your next flare-up will make you start the same process all over again. Such cycles can cause even more damage, which is why maintenance physiotherapy visit every 4 to 6 weeks is the best way of keeping the condition under control.

During these visits, the physiotherapist will not only work with you on the existing maintenance plan, but they will also have an opportunity to review the prescribed exercises and decide whether to modify or reinforce them. This way, they will help you control any future flare-ups and save you money on any other medical interventions that you may need to endure in case of acute flare-ups.

Since there are long waiting lists to obtain maintenance physiotherapy treatments in public facilities, private physiotherapy clinics can be an excellent option.

Whatever option you choose, you will be making a good decision, as research indicates that even severe osteoarthritis can improve with physiotherapy. Keeping the condition under control with maintenance physiotherapy is a great solution to reduce any progressive long-term damage.

what is physiotherapy used for

What is Physiotherapy Used For?

You have probably heard some of your friends talking about their ailments, or a famous athlete having physical therapy, physiotherapy, or physio after having an injury or being in an accident. You may also have an unexplained pain in your body and have heard that physio could do the trick to make it go away.

But what do these terms mean and are they all the same thing?

All of the above words that contain the word “physio” refer to the same therapy.

During physiotherapy, a disease, an injury or a deformity is treated by physical methods, such as heat treatment, massage, acupuncture and exercise rather than by drugs or surgeries. The meaning of the word has its roots in the Greek “physio”, which stands for nature, natural, or physical. Therefore, physiotherapy, in a way, means applying natural treatments.

Not only can physiotherapy help restore function and movement when someone is affected by an illness, injury or disability, but it can also improve overall physical health and reduce the risk of illness or injury in the future. And this applies to all ages – from children to elderly people.

Even though physiotherapy is led by trained professionals called physiotherapists, it is a holistic approach to healthcare as it involves the patients directly in their own care.

Physiotherapists help patients make the most of their ability to move and function during the course of their life through movement and by using manual therapy, massages, exercises, education, and advice.

 

physiotherapy used forWhat is Physiotherapy Used for?

Physiotherapy is used to help people overcome a variety of conditions and physical health problems. Physiotherapists use their skill and knowledge in many areas, including orthopaedics, sports, cardio-respiratory injuries, neurology, paediatrics, women’s health, and seniors’ health.

In a nutshell, any healthcare area in which patients could make good use of biomechanics and kinesiology requires the help of a physiotherapist.  

 

1. The most common area where physiotherapy is used is in treating injuries and conditions that affect the bones and joints

2. Physio is key for treating patients who are recovering from surgery. Their treatment usually consists of exercises that aim to increase strength, coordination and balance in order to correct damage to or deformities of the bones or joints. Electrical stimulation or shockwave therapy can also be incorporated into the mechanical force or movement exercises.

3. Physiotherapy is also used to treat people after a heart attack for recovering vital functions.

4. Patients with lung conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease make great advancements with physical therapy. For example, cystic fibrosis is treated by clapping on the patient’s back while they are lying down. This helps with loosening the build-up of mucus in the lungs so it can be coughed up.

The physiotherapists could educate parents of a child with cystic fibrosis how to clear the mucus of their child or teach older patients how to do this themselves.

5. Physiotherapy is used to treat people with conditions that affect the brain and the nervous system. Common neurological illnesses which can be alleviated with physio are multiple sclerosis, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, spina bifida, and cerebral palsy.

6. Children with conditions that affect the bones and muscles visit physiotherapists to get treatments for increasing flexibility, maintaining strength, and preventing joint suffering.

7. Physiotherapy is also extremely helpful with conditions that appear in late life, such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, and can help with recovery after hip surgeries.


When People Need to Get Help from a Physiotherapist?

Even though physiotherapy services are usually prescribed by your doctor after an injury or surgery, it doesn’t mean physio can only be used in those cases. It can actually be used to improve your health in many unexpected ways. You may need to get help from a physiotherapist when you are experiencing any of the following.

Sports Injury

Playing sports for a living takes a huge toll on athletes’ bodies. It’s almost impossible to imagine a long-term successful career without continuous physiotherapy treatment.

Advanced sports physio treatments can also vastly improve the overall outlook of a sportsperson suffering from mild or serious injuries – despite all the precaution, serious injuries do happen. If this is the case, the longer you wait after you get in touch with a physio expert, the more you expose yourself to additional complications. Acting quickly is the best solution to prevent further damage. This goes double if you are not a pro since you, most likely, haven’t heard expert advice on how to act after an accident as sports people do.

Sports Taping

Taping with kinesiology tapes, or, shortly kinesio taping, is an effective technique to ease down the pain and inflammation of sports-acquired conditions, such as strain and sprain in the lower and upper extremities, the groin and the lower back, as well as the neck and the shoulders.

Tapes are applied to the injured part, and due to their mechanical support properties, especially their capacity to improve the proprioceptive sense of bodily parts, they help patients coordinate movements better and heal faster.

sports taping

Continuous Pain after Injury

If the pain does not go away after you have recovered from an injury and the tissues have healed, this means your pain has become chronic. You need physiotherapeutic treatment!

This is especially common with lower back and neck pain, which can be caused by many factors. Physiotherapists will provide a custom-made program with massages and exercises to help you support your affected body part better and stop the injury from happening in the future.

Neck and Back Pain

Neck and back pain is perhaps the most common reason so many people ask for physio. They play a major part – “carry the burden” of workload and stress of everyday activities.

Therefore, it’s important to pay attention when pain calls attention to these parts. Apart from taking your own measures, such as limiting strain and improving posture, you can ask for specialist physio help. Neck and back pain can be a sign of a more serious issue, too, so, it’s best to ask for medical advice if you feel prolonged pain.  

Dancing Injuries

Physio for dancers takes care of minor to mild injuries. Most dancers, sooner or later, suffer from a sprained joint, muscle strain, and injuries to the connective tissues which ensue from regular exercise. Dancers actually build their bodies with muscular micro-tears, causing them to grow stronger and more flexible. In a way, dance progress is always associated with injuries that must be healed. Physio can make a big difference for this type of micro-trauma.

Recovery After Surgery

Surgery is accompanied by general weakness of the body and scar tissue. Patients cannot function normally immediately after surgery. Physiotherapy can accelerate the road to health and help you regain normal functions. Most post-surgical physio treatments require specialised personal consultation and care. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Casting and Plaster Treatments

Certain injuries require immobilising parts of the body by putting them in casts. Today’s advanced physiotherapeutic aids include waterproof casts to heal fractures as soon as possible and maintain your comfort and hygiene at a high level. For minor wrist injuries and chronic conditions which affect the normal functioning of your hands and palms, you can ask your physiotherapist to present you with braces options.  

Loss of Balance

This can be a result of issues with your inner ear, which is the crucial part of your balance system. Problems with the inner ear can lead to a variety of symptoms such as vertigo, dizziness and a general lack of balance. This condition can be very challenging to live with. A physiotherapist can help you with a series of head, neck, and eye exercises to help retrain your nervous system to make up for the inner ear issues.

Desk Pain

If you are stuck sitting at your desk at work all day without regular walks or stretching, you are very likely to experience headaches or backaches.

Our bodies are designed to move, so staying immobile for hours can cause our muscles and joints to strain, causing pain. This is why you need to take regular breaks from the desk in order to move your upper back, head, neck and arms.

Loss of Flexibility and Deteriorated Movement

If you notice you are not as flexible as you used to or you are not moving as easily as before, a physiotherapist can show you a wide range of exercises to strengthen the supporting tissues and relax the muscles, thus increasing your flexibility.

Difficulty Controlling Passing Urine

If you have started to urinate uncontrollably, you are one of the millions who suffer from this condition. It is likely to happen with age and is especially common in women.

what is physiotherapy used forWhat Are the Benefits of Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy has proven to be effective and make a great difference to the quality of life of people and their ability to live a fully active and healthy lifestyle. It is one of the most effective and natural ways to promote physical activity and overall health and wellness.

Physiotherapy can prevent injuries, disabilities and conditions from recurring. It is crucial in restoring and maintaining a level of physical function that allows people, especially those with chronic conditions, to live independently.

An overall benefit from physiotherapy is decreased pain along with increased strength and coordination, as well as improved joint mobility and cardio-respiratory functions.

With dedicated and prolonged physio care done in the right way, you can start enjoying your favourite leisure activities at work and at home after weeks and months in discomfort and pain.

*Pro-Fit Physio & Allied Health Centre provides physio services to Revesby, Padstow, Bankstown and surrounding suburbs.

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