For the longest time, osteoarthritis has been understood to be a purely mechanical process of the wearing down of cartilage on joint surfaces until there is nothing left.
What if I told you that, like most things, it’s a little more complicated than that, but in a good way…
If it were that simple, there would be little that you could do to repair or slow the progression of damage. This would continue until it progressed to the point of having that joint replaced with new joint surfaces.
As it is, there are a huge number of processes within your body (including your brain and nervous system), that contribute to your experience of pain and dysfunction associated with osteoarthritis.
That’s a great thing, because it means each of those contributing factors can be modified, leading to a positive change in the outcome.
When it comes to knee replacements, approximately 20% of people have ongoing pain after surgery, even with brand new joint surfaces.
What does that say about the degrading of the joint surfaces being the sole contributor of osteoarthritic pain?
So what does this mean for my osteoarthritis, what can I do? In a word, EXERCISE!
Strengthening and load bearing exercise is the best option to maintain and improve joint health, and it does this in a myriad of ways. By strengthening the structures around a joint you can improve its stability. By consistently loading and moving a joint, you improve the lubricating effect within the joint space so the surfaces glide more easily on each other – motion is lotion for joints! This loading also maximises the mineral density of your bones to keep them strong and healthy.
Additionally, osteoarthritis is now understood to be more systemic than mechanical in nature. By improving your general health and fitness, you can decrease the underlying levels of inflammation within the body, which is a major contributing factor to the progression of osteoarthritis.
Early intervention, good guidance and support are the keys to improving and maintaining your joint health.
Here at O-health we have an experienced team of Exercise Physiologists that can help better your joint health. They do this by guiding you through individualised exercises to improve your strength, maximising joint lubrication, and bone mineral density, as well as decreasing inflammation.
Read more about our “Ortho at O-health” services below.
To learn more about our team of Exercise Physiologists or to book an appointment, click here.