Exercise is something we should probably all do a little more of, but this is especially true for people with osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints, such as the hip or knee, which affects at least 8 million people in the UK alone.
by Physiotherapist Martin Dickson
When the joint loses cartilage through wear and tear, the body lays down more bone to try and repair the damage. However, instead of making things better, the bone grows abnormally, making the joint misshapen and can make the joint painful, swollen and stiff, leading to a reduction in activity or function.
Normal activities of daily living can become more difficult to complete, such as walking, stair climbing or housekeeping. In some cases, where the arthritis is more advanced, surgery to replace the joint is carried out. Getting active and participating in exercise allows people to get used to regular activity, which can help to alleviate symptoms prior to surgery and help people adhere to post-operative rehabilitation programmes.
The deconditioning cycle
There is a common symptom trend associated with osteoarthritis, which starts with joint pain. When we are in pain, we are more reluctant to move and can become more sedentary. Over time, this can lead to the joints getting a little stiffer and the muscles becoming deconditioned and weaker. This means less support around the joint and in turn, leads to more pain when moving. We call this the deconditioning cycle.