Osteoarthritis is one of the most common chronic joint diseases. Often referred to as the ‘wear and tear arthritis,’ it occurs when the protective cartilage between the bones in a joint breaks down over time. Cartilage is a firm but flexible tissue that covers the ends of most bones in the human body. Without it, painful bone-on-bone grinding can ensue during movement or weight-bearing activities leading to tenderness, stiffness, and loss of mobility.
How can a total joint arthroplasty help?
Joint arthroplasty is the artificial replacement of a joint via surgery. Eventually, dependant on age and other factors, individuals that suffer from osteoarthritis in the knees and hips may qualify for a total joint replacement. Qualifying cases usually are severe and very debilitating to an individual’s everyday life.
The surgery is frequently performed with the use of general anesthesia and generally, involves the replacement of the knee or hip joint with plastics and metal. Replacement of the joint has found to substantially lower pain levels and increase the functioning of the joint. 90% of surgeries are considered a success, with the replacement lasting approximately 15-20 years. The longevity may depend on an individual’s compliance to follow recommendations and follow through with rehab in conjunction with physiotherapy post-surgery.
What can physiotherapy offer for Osteoarthritis patients?
Physiotherapy focuses on decreasing pain levels and improving function via strengthening and stretching exercises. For those pre-surgery or not qualified for a joint replacement surgery, strengthening exercises, in particular, have proven to improve function and reduce pain. For the common knee osteoarthritis, exercises often target the quads, hamstrings, and other major leg muscles. For the common hip osteoarthritis, exercises focus on core strength, hip muscle strength, and leg strength. In other types of osteoarthritis, therapists may prescribe certain postural exercises. Manual therapies may further be used to aid in pain relief and to help improve function via passive stretching and decompression methods.
At Aquafit Physiotherapy, our therapists are trained and equipped to provide proper care to those who have undergone a total joint replacement. Similar to pre-surgery patients, strengthening and function of the joint are frequently the focus of treatment. For example, in those post knee replacement surgery, functionally the target is on getting a natural bend and full range of movement in the knee joint. There may be an adjustment period of approximately three months due to inflammation from surgery. However, with exercise and proper care, inflammation and pain should subside over the course of treatment.
Further, our state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pools can provide a safe and weight-bearing free environment for all osteoarthritis patients to build strength and increase flexibility. The buoyancy creates a gravity-free like setting to allow our patients to ease into exercise, free of pain.
Our physiotherapists will also provide education regarding safe activities to take part in, as well as what activities to avoid. To extend the life of a knee or hip replacement, high-impact activities, such as jumping or running, should be avoided. Cardio exercises, such as swimming or walking, on the other hand, are very much encouraged to maintain strength and overall good health. Similarly, these activity guidelines can help lower pain levels and improve functionality for osteoarthritis patients that have not undergone a joint replacement.
If you suffer from osteoarthritis or have recently undergone a total joint replacement, do not hesitate to book an initial assessment with one of our therapists. Get your life back on track and call us at Aquafit Physiotherapy today.