Osteoarthritis (OA) or degenerative arthritis is a common condition familiar to many. In fact one out of three of us have a chance of developing OA. It is defined as the breakdown of articular cartilage which further affects the underlining bones and joints. The most commonly affected joints include the hips, knees, feet, hands and spine. OA can be caused by trauma, metabolic disease, congenital malformations and in some cases the cause is unknown. Clinical signs include pain, decreased range of motion (reduced flexibility), increased crepitus or cracking and occasionally joints can appear red and warm.
The best way to diagnose OA is with radiological (X-ray) imaging which can discriminate the four degrees of severity. Osteoarthritis can cause reduced muscle strength, decreased flexibility and potential weight gain, which will compromise overall mobility. If you have been diagnosed with OA or suspect you have signs of OA do not let that scare you from staying active. It is important that you are seeking the right guidance as to how to manage your osteoarthritis and make the correct modifications or additions to your exercise program in order to maintain muscle strength and flexibility. For those of you waiting for an orthopaedic consult or possible surgical date it is crucial that you are getting some rehab to avoid further deterioration and increase your chances of having a positive post operative outcome measure.