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Treatment for Osteoarthritis

This is the third in a series of blogs on the topic on osteoarthritis (OA). So far we’ve covered what osteoarthritis is and how it’s diagnosed. Now we’re going to focus on the important topic of what we can do about it.

Physiotherapy for Osteoarthritis

According to the NICE guidelines, physiotherapy alongside appropriate pain medication is the first line treatment for osteoarthritic joints. Physiotherapy interventions vary according to factors such as: which joint is affected, how advanced the arthritis is and how severe the symptoms are. The key physiotherapy treatment options are discussed below.

1. Exercise

Exercise is the cornerstone of all arthritis rehabilitation programmes. Movement of the affected joint with exercise helps to reduce joint stiffness and pain and improve function. Exercises may include:

  • Simple joint movements to ease stiffness and maintain flexibility
  • Strengthening exercises to strengthen the joint and surrounding muscles
  • Cardiovascular exercise such as cycling or swimming

A physiotherapist can provide you with a tailored exercise programme which will be progressed over the course of your treatment.

2. Hands-on treatment

Hands on treatment, or ‘manual therapy’ as we call it, refers to any of the joint movements and soft tissue massage techniques that are performed by a physiotherapist. These techniques can be helpful in reducing pain.

3. Injection therapy

In certain cases, injection therapy can be very helpful. Injections typically involve involve either hyaluronic acid or cortisone. In some cases, cellular matrix injections may be appropriate. You can read more detail on injections for arthritis here.

4. Shockwave

There is an increasing body of evidence that shockwave therapy improves pain and function, particularly in the case of knee OA.

5. Other options

Your physiotherapist may also suggest the following to help manage the symptoms of OA:

  • Walking aids, e.g. walking stick
  • Splints/braces
  • Heat/cold
  • TENS machine

Weight Loss for Osteoarthritis

Carrying excess weight is a well documented risk factor for developing OA. It has been proven that losing weight can effectively reduce the symptoms of OA. You can read more detail on this topic here.

Pain Killers and Osteoarthritis

NICE guidelines support the use of pain killers to manage the symptoms of arthritis and facilitate compliance with exercise rehabilitation. Often symptoms can be managed with over the counter medications such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, however sometimes, stronger, prescribed medications are requires. At The Physios, we have physiotherapists who are licensed to prescribed some of the stronger medications to negate the need for a GP appointment.

Joint Replacements

With OA being a degenerative condition, sometimes, the condition deteriorates to the point that the above interventions no longer provide adequate pain relief. In these cases, joint replacement surgery may be an option.

If you are suffering with the symptoms of arthritis, or suspect that you may have arthritis, book an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists today for a thorough assessment and tailored treatment plan. Book online or call our friendly reception team on 0114 267 8181.