Written by Jan Vickery
A chartered physiotherapist and ergonomist, Jan is head of clinical operations for AXA Health’s specialist Health Services division
Osteoarthritis is a common condition that causes pain and stiffness in the joints. Around 1 in 3 (8.75 million) people aged 45 years and over in the UK have sought treatment for osteoarthritis , and it’s likely that many more remain undiagnosed.
The good news when it comes to osteoarthritis is there's plenty we can do to ensure our quality of life isn't compromised.
The most effective approach focuses on self-management. “This means doing what you can to preserve function and mobility of joints, like regular exercise, controlling body weight and treating injuries as and when they occur,” explains our Lead Physiotherapist, Jan Vickery.
Osteoarthritis can occur in the fingers, knees, toes, hips, base of thumb and spine, but as it takes a long time to develop, there is plenty of time to be proactive. It involves the loss of cartilage, the protective surface over the end of the bone, so that joints become swollen and painful.
A controlled exercise programme can help to control symptoms. A physiotherapist may offer mobilisation and stretching, and pain relief. “We want people to be empowered, so they can go away and be able to cope if they have a flare up. For instance, icing the joint if it flares up helps to bring down swelling.”
Osteoarthritis can cause a vicious circle, particularly among older people. So, how can we help ourselves?