By Dr Louise Warburton, Telford and Wrekin CCG
Osteoarthritis (OA) is very common and is defined as any joint pain which occurs in people over 45 years of age, where no other cause has been identified.
Did you know that;
- OA joints don’t just wear out like a rusty hinge!
- OA doesn’t develop just because we get older; lots of elderly people have no OA at all.
- We can do something to prevent OA from progressing!
- It is not inevitable that a joint with OA will need to be replaced; 80% of people with OA of the knee never need a joint replacement
- Joints affected by OA have the ability to repair themselves
- Osteoarthritis is NOT osteoporosis; osteoporosis is a condition which causes thinning of the bones so that they are not as strong and can fracture more easily
- Osteoarthritis is NOT rheumatoid arthritis; rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory joint condition causing pain and swelling of joints and IS progressive but is treatable.
- OA is much commoner in people who are overweight. Joints such as knees and hips which are weight-bearing can be put under extra strain if a person is too heavy.
- Losing weight will reduce pain levels from OA joints. As little as a 5% weight loss can significantly improve pain levels
Joints, particularly weight bearing joints such as hips and knees, work as a unit along with the muscles and ligaments around the joint. In good health, the muscles are strong and keep the joint surfaces working smoothly in alignment.
If the muscles become weak due to injury or poor fitness levels, the joint stops working efficiently and some cartilage damage can occur.
If the surrounding muscles become strong again, the cartilage and bone can start to repair.
Being over-weight adds extra stress to the joints and can increase damage.
Even though joints may be painful it is important to keep moving and exercise. This has been found to actually reduce pain levels and contribute to well-being. So it is important to do this.
Literally “no pain, no gain”…..but be guided by your body. Exercise which causes long-lasting pain the next day is probably too intense and you need to gradually build up to this level of exercise.
Exercise has many components; to prevent and treat OA it is important to take part in
- Cardiovascular exercise which increases the heart rate and causes you to feel hot and sweaty
- Strengthening exercise such as yoga, balance or pilates as this improves muscle control around the joints and improves co-ordination
Keele University have been researching how we can help people with OA to look after their joints and stay fit, and use their muscles to protect the joint.
This research programme is called JIGSAW ; Joint Implementation of Guidelines for Osteoarthritis in the West Midlands.
Keele University have developed a patient hand-book with information and advice and further information about the project can be found be clicking here. Please take a look as there are some excellent resources for everyone.
Look out for events around Telford promoting the JIGSAW approach to caring for your joints.
The GP Surgeries around Telford have been trained in the JIGSAW approach and the Healthy Lifestyles team from the Council work with GP surgeries and patients to advise and help people with joint pain.