Myths on Osteoarthritis

Myth 1: An Osteoarthritic joint should be protected and not exercised.

Actual evidence: Low activity levels and sedentary lifestyle are related to thinning of cartilage on MRI. Moderate exercise does not worsen the progression of OA, and shows that pain and function improve over 2 years. However when starting exercise, pain levels need to be monitored and slowly building up exercise tolerance is the key.

Myth 2: Conservative treatments, such as physiotherapy are ineffective.

Actual evidence: Exercise and lifestyle changes, such as those prescribed by physiotherapists, are important in managing OA. They have been shown to improve pain, muscle strength, function, mental health and slow osteoarthritis progression.

Myth 3: Joint surgery is inevitable.

Actual evidence: OA is different for each individual and multifactorial. Many people diagnosed with OA never reach a point where joint replacement is appropriate or necessary.

How physiotherapy can help:
A physiotherapist will help by assessing overall function of the affected joint. They will look at range of motion, strength in different movements throughout the limb, and measures such as balance and functional tasks, for example squatting to pick something off the floor, or stepping down a step.

The physiotherapist will assess the limitations and pain levels with these movements and tests, and produce an individualised graded programme to help the person return to their desired goals and back to living a normal life.