I have Arthritis, what now?
"I've worn my knees out with all that sport I used to do". An extremely common phrase we hear in clinic.
But, osteoarthritic joints are a normal part of the ageing process. We will all develop some level of degeneration in our joints at various points in our lives. This does not mean you will suffer with pain.
When we look at scans of a normal population without pain we see lots of "degeneration" or "damage" in various joints in the body. A better way to look at osteoarthritis is to imagine them as wrinkles on the inside. Wrinkles on the face are not harmful or damaging but they are widely accepted as a normal part of the ageing process. This works the same within joints and should be viewed as such.
But what if I have bone-on-bone contact, doesn't that mean I will need surgery?
Advanced degeneration on a scan does not mean you need to have surgery. Bone-on-bone contact is not a term that is entirely correct as there is a buffer of synovial fluid present within the joint for protection. You will have likely been told that you have "wear and tear" within your joint which is an outdated term as our understanding of arthritis has changed. A better term to help you on your journey is "motion is lotion". Joints need to be exercised and used in order for water and fluid exchange to take place. This constant flow of fluids in and out of the joint keeps it healthy and helps to maintain and even stimulate cartilage growth. Think of your joints as a giant sponge that forces water in and out of our joints.
Osteoarthritis does not always get worse and we can adapt over time with the right rehabilitation and advice. We adapt and change when loads and stressors are placed on the body!
Here's a graph below showing the rates of joint and cartilage "damage" in people with and without pain!
What can I do to help with pain and avoid surgery?
There is more arthritis in a couch potato than the average runner! That is an indication that movement is GOOD for joints! (Although this does not mean I think it's a good idea for you to go out running after reading this!)
You need to have a plan in place over the weeks and months after your diagnosis which will start gradually and hopefully build you up again to a place where you can enjoy life without worrying about your arthritis.
This is where we can help you. We have helped numerous people with knee and hip osteoarthritis and we know how debilitating it can be. Not being able to do the gardening, not being able to walk far, struggling to get up and down the stairs or getting off to sleep. With the right advice and if caught at the right time we can sometimes delay or even avoid surgery altogether!