Arthritis is a common condition causing pain and inflammation the joints and can affect people of all ages. There are many different types of arthritis and so for the best possible outcome it is important to obtain a professional diagnosis.
Symptoms of Arthritis include joint pain, tenderness and stiffness.
Loss of range of movement of the joint.
Pain from joint inflammation
The skin over the joint may appear red which is known as erythema.
There may be weakness or muscle wasting
The form of arthritis known as Osteoarthritis is also known as Degenerative Arthritis. This is a wear and tear affecting the smooth cartilage which lines the joints. Roughening of the cartilage causes pain and inflammation which in turn leads to decreased mobility. In some cases the cartilage can be so worn away that it may give rise to bone on bone contact as is most frequently seen in the knees. In this situation a joint replacement may be considered.
Once the cartilage of the joint begins to wear the integrity of the joint is reduced causing instability. This instability then puts extra stress on the other structures which hold the joint together such as tendons, ligaments and muscle. Slithers of cartilage may also break away and float around inside the joint. These are known as foreign bodies and can affect the mechanics of the joint. If necessary these foreign bodies can be removed with keyhole surgery. Another characteristic of Osteoarthritis is the formation of small bony horns at the periphery of the joints. These are known as Osteophytes and can interfere with the soft tissues surrounding them.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
Obesity is probably one of the main causes of Osteoarthritis in the weight bearing joints such as the knees, hips and spine.
Occupation. A persons job may be a contributary factor particularly if repetitive activity or heavy lifting is required.
Previous injury which may have included a fracture into the joint or an injury altering the angulation of the joint can cause early onset of Osteoarthritis.´
Repetitive activities occurring in sport eg. a bowler´s shoulder or from direct contact sports such as rugby.
There is a heredity link also where some people have an inherited defect in one of the genes responsible for making cartilage.
Other joint diseases such as Osteochondritis, Avascular Necrosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Gout can all predispose a joint to Osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis can be diagnosed by your doctor or physiotherapist. X Ray or MRI scan may also be used if in the early stages of Osteoarthritis as cartilage is not visible with an X Ray. Blood tests may also be taken to differentiate from other forms of arthritis such as Rheumatoid or Gout.
Your doctor may prescribe pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Weight loss can significantly improve the symptoms in the weight bearing joints.
Injections of corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid may be suggested. Hyaluronic acid is known to improve joint lubrication.
Some alternative therapies may provide relief such as acupuncture or supplements of Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
Physiotherapy Electrotherapy is used to reduce pain and inflammation and decrease the swelling. Mobilisation techniques to help increase the range of movement and supports or braces may be tried to reduce the strain through the joint.
Surgical options for Osteoarthritis include Arthroscopy which is a clean out of any debris and foreign bodies floating around in the joint and a general tidy up of any shredded joint cartilage. An Osteotomy is a `procedure used to correct joint alignment particularly in the knee. However an osteotomy is rarely a permanent solution and further surgery may be necessary at a later stage. The third option is Arthroplasty which is joint replacement surgery. Today´s modern prosthetics can last up to 20 years and may be replaced if necessary.
Tracey Evans – The Physiotherapy Centre
+34 609 353 805