“Arthritis” is a term used to describe inflammation of the joints. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and usually is caused by the deterioration of a joint. There is a protective covering over a joint’s surface called cartilage. With osteoarthritis the cartilage has been degraded and the bony surfaces come in contact with one another. This will lead to increased pressure through the joint and can lead to inflammation and pain. Typically, the weight-bearing joints are affected, with the knee and the hip being the most common. Arthritis can also affect the small joints in your body such as the joints in your hands or feet or the joints between the vertebrae in your spine.
How common is osteoarthritis?
An estimated 27 million Americans have some form of OA. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- 1 in 2 people in the United States (US) may develop knee OA by age 85
- 1 in 4 may develop hip OA in their lifetime
- Until age 50, men and women are equally affected by OA
- After age 50, women are affected more than men
- Over their lifetimes, 21% of overweight and 31% of obese adults are diagnosed with arthritis
What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?
- Joint pain
- Joint stiffness
- Loss of motion in a joint
Why is treating or managing osteoarthritis important?
OA affects daily activity and is the most common cause of disability in the US adult population. Although OA does not always require surgery, such as a joint replacement, it has been estimated that the use of total joint replacement in the US will increase 174% for hips and 673% for knees by the year 2030.
What can I do about osteoarthritis?
Research has shown that light to moderate activities such as walking, biking, and swimming can provide more benefits than harm to your joints, and promote weight loss. One study showed that just an 11-pound weight loss reduced the risk of OA in the women studied.
Physical therapists can help patients understand OA and its complications, provide treatments to lessen pain and improve movement, and offer education about obesity and healthy lifestyle choices.
Physical therapists are movement experts. They improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement or exercise.
If you feel limited by symptoms of OA or feel it is impacting your quality of life, call to schedule an appointment with one of our physical therapists today!