Living with osteoarthritis may involve making changes to your lifestyle in order to maintain your quality of life. The recommended treatment primarily involves education and customized exercises that strengthen the affected joints. Learning more about the disease, starting new routines, and including the exercises in the treatment is made easier with the support of a physical therapist.
Several risk factors for osteoarthritis can be avoided
The development of osteoarthritis is largely connected with strain on the joints. This means that we can affect the course of the disease through the everyday things we do. It is then important to be aware of the risk factors for the condition – in order to avoid them. Activities that we do on a daily basis, such as going up the stairs, can either accelerate the breakdown of cartilage in the joints or slow it down.
By strengthening the joints that are exposed to stress, future issues can be prevented. Primarily, people with physically straining jobs benefit from strengthening the muscles and joints. It can also be good to practice healthy loading patterns with a physical therapist. For floor layers, it is a good idea to strengthen the knees, while painters would do well to strengthen their shoulders. People who are overweight also benefit from losing weight or strengthening their muscles, since stronger muscles are able to bear more body weight.
Exercise and weight control as treatment for osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is treated in roughly the same way that it is prevented – by using exercise, an understanding of how the body operates, and certain lifestyle changes. Training and exercise strengthens the muscles and reduces the load on the joints. The surrounding muscles can take some of the strain that would otherwise have been exerted on the joint. At the same time, the joint is stabilized, which reduces the risk of future damage.
A lot of osteoarthritis training is based on reducing the load on the affected joint. This includes weight control for patients who are overweight. In this case, overweight means more bodyweight than the muscles can carry. Hence, it is more important to be strong than to be thin. However, losing weight may still be relevant for some people as it reduces the load on joints such as knees, hips and spine.