By Sabina Lee
Physiotherapist Sun City Physiotherapy
Brrr these winter months have been a little more chilly than normal for us in the Okanagan. Has the change in temperature made your joints achier?
Two of the most common joints to be affected by osteoarthritis are the hip and knee joints. This may be because of the fact that they are two major joints that we continually weight-bear through.
What is osteoarthritis? It is the result of cartilage wearing away from the two bony surfaces that create a joint. One of the most common features of osteoarthritis is morning stiffness. Many people after months of noticing daily stiffness will go to their family doctor and get checked out to make sure they have a clean bill of health. Often times an x-ray will be ordered and the phone rings asking you to come to the doctor’s office a few days later.
You may be surprised to find out that the result is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can be a progressive condition and the severity differs. The different categories are mild, moderate or severe. An interesting fact is the severity does not always correspond with how your knee or hip actually feels.
There have been many individuals that come into the physiotherapy clinic which x-ray results indicative of severe osteoarthritis but they have minimal pain. It is important not to fall victim to the dangers of letting a diagnostic test catastrophize the results and let it impact how we actually feel.
Osteoarthritis is essentially the result of wear and tear on the body and a natural process of aging. There are endless supplements to aid in joint pain but one of the best medicines is exercise. To support the joint our body secretes a fluid called synovial fluid. It helps cushion the joint and ease movement. The catch with synovial fluid is that it is stimulated to release when the joints are active and moving. The expression “motion is lotion” certainly applies with those who have osteoarthritic joints. The more you move the better lubricated the joint becomes which can result in less pain and stiffness.
Some of the best forms of exercise for painful arthritic joints are those in which we are non-weight bearing. Swimming is a great form of exercise for osteoarthritis. The buoyancy of the water helps support our joints allowing us to move with more ease. Another great form of exercise is a stationary bike. In summary, the diagnosis of osteoarthritis does not signify the end of life as you knew it, but is simply another reminder of the life we’ve lived and the joints that have moved us through it.
It also serves as a reminder to keep active and keep your joints healthy and happy.