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Osteoarthritis


Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, and its prevalence continues to increase.


OA can be painful, restricting individuals from going about their everyday lives. Unfortunately, education regarding the ‘how's’ and ‘why’s’ of OA is poor, leading people to false beliefs that can further exacerbate their symptoms.




OA is not untreatable. You can get back to doing the things you love without significant surgeries, without crazy expenses, and in a way that suits you and your lifestyle. It is time we de-bunk these misconceptions and improve education regarding this topic to help individuals living with OA get back on track!






Osteoarthritis Myth Busting


1. Myth 1: Bone-on-bone


a. OA does not mean bone on bone, but rather a thinning of cartilage tissue between the bones that make up a joint

b. In addition to cartilage, there is synovial fluid, a lubricating liquid that allows joints to move smoothly

c. If your joint was bone on bone, your bones would be fused, and you would not be able to move your joint. Therefore, if you can move your joint, even if painful, it is not bone on bone!


2. Myth 2: Exercise will make it worse


a. Exercise is one of the most essential aspects of OA management

b. Weight-bearing exercises enhance the delivery of nutrients to the joint and surrounding cartilage which in turn can reduce pain

c. Having stronger muscles around the affected joint will reduce overall loads going through the joint and therefore delay the progression of OA



3. Myth 3: Surgery is the only solution to OA


a. Surgery doesn’t always provide optimal outcomes

b. Evidence suggests people do just as well, if not better, with physiotherapy treatment involving exercise prescription, and addressing lifestyle factors contributing to OA, compared with surgery (1)

c. Some modifiable lifestyle factors known to contribute to OA include:

i. Obesity

ii. Joint injury

iii. Occupation

iv. Smoking


4. Myth 4: OA refers to wear and tear of the joints


a. The body has an incredible ability to adapt to external stresses. Moving your joints and being active will not lead to OA, but rather improve the body’s ability to withstand these external forces.

b. Running, for example, places up to 4x your body weight through the knee joint with each step. But evidence suggests that OA is actually less common amongst recreational runners than non-runners (2)


*It is important to note here that in this study, ‘recreational runners’ and ‘competitive runners’ were classed in separate groups, whereby competitive runners seemed to have higher levels of OA compared to non-competitive runners. Have a read of the article for full clarification!



GLA-D – Good Life with osteoArthritis: Denmark


Developed in Denmark, GLA-D is an education and exercise program targeted at individuals with hip or knee OA symptoms.


Research suggests a reduction in pain of up to 36%, reduced alcohol consumption, reduced perceived need for surgery, and improved joint confidence (3) thanks to the GLA-D program in Australia.


GLA-D spans over a period of eight weeks and is led by certified GLA-D physiotherapists with the aim of helping patients manage their symptoms. The program consists of the following:

· Initial appointment with a GLA-D certified Physiotherapist

· Two education sessions

· Twice weekly group neuromuscular training sessions for 6 weeks


For more information about the GLA-D program, visit https://gladaustralia.com.au/





References

1. Brignardello-Petersen R, Guyatt GH, Buchbinder R, Poolman RW, Schandelmaier S, Chang Y, Sadeghirad B, Evaniew N, Vandvik PO. Knee arthroscopy versus conservative management in patients with degenerative knee disease: a systematic review. BMJ open. 2017 May 1;7(5):e016114.

2. Alentorn-Geli E, Samuelsson K, Musahl V, Green CL, Bhandari M, Karlsson J. The association of recreational and competitive running with hip and knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. journal of orthopaedic & sports physical therapy. 2017 Jun;47(6):373-90.

3. GLA:D Australia. What is GLA:D Australia? [internet] GLA:D Australia; 2017. Available from: https://gladaustralia.com.au/



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