Unveiling truths about osteoarthritis—its impact on youth, exercise benefits, and how physiotherapy can prevent surgery. Read on for clarity!

 

The personification of osteoarthritis may look like a fiend or a demon, trying to bring you to your knees (Pun intended). 

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease, in which the tissues in the joint break down over time. It is the most common type of arthritis and is more common in older people. People with osteoarthritis usually have joint pain and, after rest or inactivity, stiffness for a short period of time. 

The global prevalence of knee OA was 16% in individuals aged 15 and over and  22.9% in individuals aged 40 and over. Correspondingly, there were around 654 million individuals, 40 years and older, with knee OA in 2020 worldwide and 203 per 10,000 people aged 20 and over, which was 86.7 million individuals, 20 years and older, with incident knee OA in 2020 worldwide.

Sounds brutal right? But here’s the thing, OA has been a tad bit more misunderstood than you think. False information has been in the air for as long as one can remember, and it is time to truly understand the facts of OA. Here we go!

  • Myth – “OA only affects older people”

Truth – As mentioned above, even young people in their 20s can suffer from OA. Up to 50% of youth and young adults will develop OA within 10-15 years of a joint injury. This means they have to live with OA longer, which may result in greater disability and a decrease in quality of life. For this reason, young people with joint injuries need to be taught how to reduce their increased risk of OA.

  • Myth – “I should protect my joint by using it less”

Truth – Cartilage naturally breaks down and rebuilds, but in order for it to do this properly it needs the appropriate amount of load. This can be achieved through exercise. Exercise loads and unloads the joint, which helps move synovial fluid around within the joint and provides nutrients to the cartilage

  • Myth – “Exercise will damage my joint further”

Truth – Exercise and movement are extremely safe and in fact, are the best ways to defend against OA. When we don’t move, our joints become stiff and our muscles become weak, which worsens the condition. 

  • Myth – “Physiotherapy is not going to help”

Truth – Being physically active, strengthening the muscles around the joint and losing weight, if you need to, are the most important things you can do to manage your osteoarthritis. A physiotherapist will be able to advise on the best 

exercise programme for you.

  • Myth – “Surgery is inevitable”

Truth – A small percentage of people may require surgery at some point in their lives, however, physiotherapy is the most preferred choice for treatment in the early stages of the disease which may prevent surgery altogether. 

 

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