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Physical therapy for osteoarthritis

What is osteoarthritis?

The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage cushioning the ends of the bones wears down over time. Cartilage is a firm but slippery tissue that facilitates near-frictionless joint motion, but if it wears down over time, bone may rub against bone. This can result in pain and stiffness in the affected joints.

Because osteoarthritis occurs due to years of stress placed on the joints, it’s most likely to develop in older patients, and thus the risk of developing osteoarthritis increases with age. The condition also tends to occur more frequently in obese patients or in patients whose occupations require the performance of repetitive motions, as these conditions can also place stress on the joints.

Osteoarthritis tends to develop slowly and gradually, worsening over time. It most often occurs in the hands, knees, hips, and spine, but it can affect any joint in the body. Although there is no way to reverse the process that causes osteoarthritis, the condition can be effectively managed with certain non-surgical treatments.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Osteoarthritis symptoms

The most common and most indicative symptoms of arthritis are pain and stiffness in the affected joints, especially first thing in the morning or after a period of rest. This stiffness tends to subside soon after activity is resumed. Patients may also notice that these joints will become mildly swollen after a more extended period of activity, or notice a clicking or cracking sound in the joint when it bends.

Osteoarthritis can affect different parts of the body differently. For example, patients whose knees are affected may experience a scraping sensation when they walk or move the knee. When osteoarthritis affects the hip, patients may feel pain in the groin, the buttocks, the inside of the knee, or the inside of the thigh.

Symptoms tend to develop gradually and worsen over time. While they may pose little more than an inconvenience at first, they can eventually become debilitating, preventing patients from performing even simple tasks. Fortunately, it’s possible to address and manage symptoms before they reach this point.

The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Clicking or cracking sounds
  • Grating sensations

Source: Arthritis.org

What causes osteoarthritis?

Though osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear to the joint over time, there are certain factors that make some patients more likely to develop the condition. For example, genetics can play a role; some patients have a rare defect that interferes with the body’s ability to produce collagen — the protein that makes up cartilage. Other genetic conditions can affect how the bones in the body fit together, increasing stress on the cartilage.

In addition, patients who participate in sports, physical activities, or hold occupations that require repetitive joint movements are at a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis. Some athletes, especially those who repeatedly damage their joints, are at very high risk, as are patients who work jobs that require repetitive bending or lifting.

Further, being overweight can put additional pressure on the joints, causing the cartilage in the hips and knees to break down faster than it should. Some studies also suggest that excess fat tissue can produce inflammatory chemicals that cause the joints to break down.

The most common causes of osteoarthritis include:

  • Wear and tear
  • Obesity
  • Genetics
  • Menopause
  • Repetitive motions

Source: Arthritis.org

Physical therapy for osteoarthritis

Physical therapy has been proven to be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis; in fact, it can prevent many patients from requiring painkillers or surgical intervention. The symptoms and specific progression of osteoarthritis will vary from patient to patient, so a physical therapist will need to evaluate each patient individually in order to develop an effective treatment plan.

Though highly individualized, most osteoarthritis treatment plans will consist of some combination of mobility exercises, manual therapy, work and home space adjustments, strength training, aerobics, and lifestyle changes. With the help of a licensed physical therapist, patients with osteoarthritis can successfully slow the onset of the disease.

Source: Move Forward PT

Luna’s physical therapists treat
osteoarthritis

Luna employs Bay Area and Los Angeles-based physical therapists that specialize in treating patients with osteoarthritis at all stages of development and severity. Our licensed PTs can work with you to develop a treatment plan that will increase your comfort, improve your mobility, and help you return to the lifestyle and activities you love.

Best of all, with Luna, patients can receive physical therapy for osteoarthritis in the comfort of their own homes. Our physical therapists come to you — it’s physical therapy, delivered.

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