The first question to ask is: “Which form of arthritis do I have?”
If you are battling along in silence with joint symptoms and not quite sure of the diagnosis, be sure to consult your GP or Physiotherapist.
There are important differences between Osteoarthritis (“OA”, the most common form of arthritis which affects around 20% of Australians) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (“RA”, an autoimmune disease affecting about 2% of the population).
If you are displaying symptoms and clinical features of RA, you will be referred to a Rheumatologist.
For people with RA, it’s paramount that treatment is started early to minimise joint damage. This involves early implementation (within the first 12 weeks) of disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or biological DMARDs and immediate symptom management (this may include the use of prescribed steroids, NSAIDs, and analgesics).
I understand my arthritis diagnosis and have appropriate pharmacological management. What else can I do?
There are many ways you can take control and alter the course of things, including joint function, activity levels, your experience of pain and your joy of living. Arthritis care is integrative, with each strategy having a significant impact.
Integrative Care Involves:
With both OA and RA your physiotherapist can teach you the right exercises with correct technique, loads and repetitions to maximise cartilage health and preserve joint mobility and stability.
This will help reduce disease progression and get you back to participating in activities for cardiovascular health, weight loss….and pure enjoyment! At Wisdom Physiotherapy, we notice an improvement in body confidence in our Clinical Pilates clients who have a regular practice.
People who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of developing arthritis. The joints are under more stress with the increased load (every 1 kg of extra weight puts 4 kg of extra pressure on the knees), but it’s not just the increased weight that contributes to joint damage. The fat itself creates and releases chemicals, many of which promote inflammation, causing the joint to break down more rapidly than it would otherwise.
Your GP, a dietitian, an exercise physiologist and a sometimes a psychologist can all offer guidance for weight loss. Your physio can assist you in getting more physically active.
Eating healthy is really important, especially as it helps to manage your weight.
Although no diet has been proven to cure arthritis, there are foods that can help with managing the symptoms and reduce your chances of getting secondary issues. This website has some good healthy eating tips.
Learning about your condition and management options means you make informed decisions and take an active role in your own care.
These websites are just some of the reputable sources of information available:
Techniques to manage thoughts & emotions
We live in a fabulous age of access to resources for stress reduction, mindfulness, relaxation and meditation. It’s a vital piece of the picture. Explore what works for you.
At Wisdom Physiotherapy, we teach yoga for arthritis. Studies have shown that with a regular yoga practice, people with arthritis notice their confidence and attitude towards body and self slowly change over time. You will find it increasingly easier to tap into techniques to calm, centre and energise you. With the use of the breath, mind AND body, yoga is a rich package! Yoga also incorporates the benefits of controlled alignment, stability around the joints, flexibility and improved balance.
There are many types of bodywork available including Physiotherapy, Osteopathy, Bowen Therapy, Myofascial techniques….to name a few.
Different people find different things work to help relieve tension, stiffness and pain associated with arthritis.
The physiotherapists at Wisdom Physiotherapy use a variety of evidence-based techniques including mobilisation, massage, dry needling and Clinical Pilates to support you in relieving symptoms and keeping you moving.
Information on specific Falls Prevention programs in WA can be found on the WA Department of Health website.
Clinical Pilates and Yoga at Wisdom Physiotherapy incorporate functional balance aspects and improve joint stability and body awareness.
Equipment / Aids
Equipment such as specialised footwear, splints, devices to unload joints in everyday tasks may be appropriate, your Physiotherapist or Podiatrist could recommend the best options for you.
It’s important to note that surgery is performed for management of pain and impaired function, not just because the X-ray looks bad. The results of joint replacement surgery are good for the majority of people but there are risks, as in all surgery. Make sure you have these detailed conversations with the orthopaedic surgeon.
In most cases, Integrative Care as above is trialled for at least 3 months before joint replacement is considered. We look forward to supporting your steps to a fulfilling every day!
To make an appointment with one of our Physiotherapists to find out more about how we can help you, call us on (08) 6389 2947 or click here to book online.