There are over 100 different forms of arthritis. The most common form, Osteoarthritis (a degenerative joint disease) can be the result of trauma to the joint, infection of the joint or natural ageing.

Osteoarthritis (OA) can affect both the larger and the smaller joints of the body, including the hands, feet, back, hip or knee. The disease is essentially acquired from daily wear and tear of the joint. It is also more likely to be found if a significant injury has occured to the joint in earlier years.

Osteoarthritis begins in the cartilage and eventually leads to the two opposing bones eroding into each other. Initially, the condition starts with minor pain while walking or moving the affected area but soon the pain can become continuous and even occur at night. The pain can be debilitating and prevent those affected from doing any type of activity. About 8 million people in the UK have some degree of Osteoarthritis by age 65*.

There is no cure for Osteoarthritis, but the symptoms can be eased by using a number of different treatments. Mild symptoms can often be managed through exercise or by wearing suitable footwear. Humid and cold weather often increases the pain in many patients.

 Signs and symptoms

  • Pain and sometimes swelling of the affected joints.
  • Stiffness of the area and difficulty with moving and walking
  • Warmth and sometimes redness
  • A change in shape of the affected joint
  • Occasionally affected joints may also be filled with fluid.

How physiotherapy can help

Physiotherapy and gentle exercise has been shown to significantly improve function, decrease pain, and delay the need for surgical intervention in even advanced cases of Osteoarthritis.

If you think think you have Osteoarthritis some useful advise to consider includes:

  • Wear shock-absorbent shoes such as trainers with thick, soft soles. This will lessen the impact to your feet, knees and hips and help to reduce pain in the lower limb joints
  • Use a walking stick if you are struggling to get around
  • Wear a knee brace or a support for your thumb if indicated, as this helps reduce pain
  • Hot and cold packs can help alleviate some of the pain
  • For those who are overweight, weight loss may also be an important factor to help reduce the amount of load that the affected joint is having to support.