Prevention and management of osteoarthritis
September 8 is observed as the World Physiotherapy Day. The day marks the worldwide physiotherapy community's unity and solidarity. It is an opportunity to appreciate the work physiotherapists do for their patients and society. The focus of this year's World Physiotherapy Day was the prevention and management of osteoarthritis.
Arthritis is a disease that affects your joints. Arthritis usually involves inflammation or degeneration (breakdown) of your joints. These changes can cause pain when you use the joint. Arthritis is most common in the following areas of the body: feet, hands, hips, knees, and lower back.
Experts have identified some genes that might cause arthritis, including arthritis of the knee. They predict that there are more genes not yet discovered. You could have a gene linked to arthritis without knowing it, and a virus or injury could trigger arthritis of the knee.
Though the cause is unknown, some risk factors increase the possibility of arthritis of the knee. Risk factors for osteoarthritis, specifically, include:
Age: Osteoarthritis happens to older adults more often than younger adults and children.
Bone anomalies: You are at a higher risk for osteoarthritis if your bones or joints are naturally crooked.
Gout: Gout, also a type of inflammatory arthritis, might lead to osteoarthritis.
Injuries: Knee injuries can cause arthritis of the knee.
Stress: A lot of stress on your knees from jogging, playing sports, or working an active job can lead to osteoarthritis of the knee.
Weight: Extra weight puts more pressure on your knees.
There are many signs and symptoms of arthritis of the knee: creaking, clicking, grinding, or snapping noises (crepitus); difficulty walking; joint pain that changes (gets better or worse) depending on the weather; joint stiffness; knee buckling; knee joint pain that progresses slowly or pain that happens suddenly; skin redness or swelling.
Healthcare providers cannot cure knee arthritis. But they have some tips that might reduce the severity of your symptoms and possibly stop the arthritis from getting worse, including maintaining a healthy weight and exercising using low-impact activities (swimming, cycling) instead of high-impact activities (jogging, tennis). Aim for about 150 minutes of exercise per week; wear shock-absorbing inserts in your shoes; apply heat or ice to the area; wear a knee sleeve or brace; do physical therapy exercises that help with flexibility, strength, and motion; use a cane; receive acupuncture and platelet-rich plasma.
Check with your healthcare provider before you try any of these tips.
The writer is the Chief Consultant (Physio), at the Reactive Physiotherapy Centre, Tejgaon, Dhaka.