By Jessica Jackman
Winter brings with it the cold, wet and windy days, but does it make osteoarthritis (OA) worse? Studies are inconclusive on this one – some saying that the weather has no bearing at all on OA pain or stiffness. Anecdotally from patients, I hear complaints about the colder weather increasing pain levels all the time. We are going to discuss a little about OA and what we can do about it.
Osteoarthritis is the disruption and potential loss of joint cartilage, commonly found in the knees, hips, hands and spine. It can cause the joint to become increasingly painful; lose flexibility; have a restricted range of motion; and sometimes result in a grinding sensation or tenderness. Stiffness upon waking up usually last less than 30 minutes and can be relieved through movement. Diagnosis requires an X- ray to view the joint space and rule out other causes of joint pain.
Treatment aims to relieve pain and maintain joint flexibility and function. Osteopathy uses soft tissue release techniques and joint mobilisation techniques to keep the joints functioning optimally.
Ligament laxity and joint instability are just some of the consequences of OA. These symptoms can significantly worsen with immobilisation. Exercise is the key to helping patients with OA. An exercise program for OA should include some strengthening, flexibility and endurance work as it is important to support the joint with strong surrounding muscles. Stretching should be done daily.
Stability = strength and flexibility.
Prevention is always better than trying to cure. Get moving!