What's The Best Way To Treat Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis affects well over two million Australians and that number isn't going to disappear. Being a chronic and painful condition, there are many different treatments on the market as more people seek relief from symptoms of osteoarthritis. But what actually works? 

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of chronic arthritis, causing persistent joint pain, stiffness and swelling. It mainly affects the hands, knees and hips, often restricting movement and making normal daily activities challenging. 

While people over 50 are more likely to be affected, it’s not just an age related condition. It does affect younger people as well, with other risk factors including being overweight or obese, joint injury, overuse from occupations or activities with repetitive movements, or a family history of the condition.

While there’s no cure, treatment and lifestyle changes can often help with its symptoms and reduce discomfort. But medicines, supplements and remedies all supposedly being able to help, it can be hard to know where to start.

Managing the condition

Lucky for us, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) did an extensive study around a wide range of therapies for osteoarthritis and announced new guidelines for GPs, putting a major emphasis on non-surgical, non-drug treatment options.

For those living with osteoarthritis, the study found the best way to manage the condition is to get regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight. 

Exercise

If the pain you experience makes it difficult to exercise, try low-impact options like walking, muscle-strengthening exercises, water aerobics and Tai Chi, which is also great for improving balance. Get into a regular routine and try get your friends and family involved. Walks are an excellent way of combining exercise with a social catch up.

Weight management

Along with regular exercise, eating a wide range of healthy foods can help you feel better and lose weight. Make sure your to eat a balanced and varied diet full of fresh food, especially fruit and vegetables. Eating a diet that includes fish, poultry and some dairy and is low in red meat, processed meats and sugar, has shown links to decreased pain, disability and depressive symptoms in people with osteoarthritis. 

Medication

Many experts strongly recommend against the use of drug-based treatments for people with osteoarthritis. Discuss your pain relief options with your GP. The most appropriate will likely massage and manual therapy, like physiotherapy  as part of your plan to manage osteoarthritis. 

Here at Medwest our Osteoarthritis Physiotherapists are experts in treating the the condition, allowing you to get on with live and get the most out of it. 

The best place to start is with your GP. Understand what’s going on with your body, and how you can help yourself. Start with a plan, set realistic goals for weight loss and exercise, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Once you have a plan in place, you can make the right choices to give your body the best chance to thrive!