Managing Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common lifestyle disease that can affect individuals as they age, especially those over 65. Surprisingly, it is even more prevalent than high blood pressure and diabetes in this age group.

Many people in Australia visit their general practitioners due to OA, and it is a leading cause of reduced physical activity among older individuals. But let’s focus on the positive side. While OA involves changes in the structure of the cartilage and affects the joint capsule, ligaments, muscles, and bones, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on being active.

It’s time to debunk the myth that OA is solely a “wear and tear disease” that restricts physical activity.

In fact, recent evidence suggests that avoiding exercise is counterproductive. When done in moderation and with an appropriate load, physical activity actually helps regenerate cartilage. Think of the cartilage in your joints as a sponge. Moving and putting weight on your joints compresses the cartilage, removing waste and drawing in vital nutrients from the joint synovial fluid. This compression and movement create a healthy environment for your cartilage to thrive.

The key to managing OA is finding the right starting point for exercise and gradually progressing from there. It is also important to address the various factors that can also contribute to the pain and disability associated with OA, such as being overweight, having other health conditions like high cholesterol or diabetes, sleep patterns, muscle strength, balance, flexibility, and even managing stress and anxiety related to the condition.

In managing OA, there are three essential components: physiotherapy, exercise, and diet. With substantial evidence supporting its effectiveness, exercise is considered the first-line treatment over pharmaceuticals (second-line) or surgery (third-line).

A pyramid graph of ways to manage osteoarthritis. The most effective is education, exercise and weightloss. The middle tier is pharmacological pain killers. The top tier is surgery

At Optimum Health Solutions, our multidisciplinary team of physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, occupational therapists, and dieticians are here to assist you. We can create a personalized management plan tailored to your unique needs, ensuring you can live life to the fullest despite having OA.

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact the Optimum team. We are dedicated to helping you find the best options for managing your OA and empowering you to enjoy a vibrant and active lifestyle. Remember, OA doesn’t define you—it’s just one part of your journey, and with the proper care, you can continue to thrive and embrace all that life has to offer.

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