Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease that affects millions
of people worldwide. Degenerative is a scary-sounding medical term,
but is very common and what it actually means is, a disease in which
the function or structure of the affected area or tissues decreases
over time. It is the most common form of arthritis and typically affects
individuals over the age of 50. OA results from the breakdown of
cartilage in joints, leading to pain, stiffness, and limited mobility. While
there is no cure for OA, there are various pain management techniques,
rehabilitation exercises, and lifestyle changes that can help manage
and reduce pain. In this blog post, we will explore these techniques and
provide valuable insights into the symptoms of OA and how to manage
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is;
● Joint pain, which may be mild, moderate, or severe.
● The pain typically worsens with activity and improves with rest.
Other symptoms of OA include;
● Limited mobility.
● Joint swelling.
● A clicking or popping sound when moving the joint.
Over time, the affected joint may become misshapen, making it difficult
to perform daily activities such as climbing stairs, grasping objects or
The primary goal of pain management for osteoarthritis is to relieve
pain and improve joint function. There are several pain management
techniques that individuals can use to manage their symptoms,
1. Exercise: The main form of pain management is physical activity
through exercise. Loading surrounding structures like muscles,
tendons and ligaments and the joint itself. This allows the remaining
cartilage to become more durable and depending on the type of
exercise e.g. weight lighting, can help with a reduction in swelling.
Weightlifting is suitable for all ages and has many positive benefits
outside of managing pain.
2. Medication: Anti-inflammatories or pain medication can help to
maintain issues with OA. They can’t improve OA but can help create a
situation where exercise and rehabilitation can be undertaken far
easier. However, we try not to look at medication as a quick fix, and is
best used in conjunction with other pain management suggestions.
3. Weight loss: Weight can strain joints, leading to more pain and
inflammation. Losing weight can help reduce pain and improve joint
4. Heat and cold therapy: Applying heat or cold to the affected joint can
help reduce pain and stiffness. Heat therapy can be applied using a
warm towel or heating pad and normally helps by increasing the
available range of motion in the joint and surrounding area. Cold
therapy can be applied using a cold pack or ice. Ice can help reduce
swelling around the joint and pain in the area it is applied to.
5. Stressors: Although a little harder to accomplish in comparison to
other methods, but figuring out what causes pain or general stressors
that lead to issues with the OA can create some of the most long-term
Rehabilitation exercises can help improve joint function and reduce pain
in individuals with osteoarthritis. These exercises are designed to
strengthen the muscles around the affected joint, improve mobility, and
increase the range of motion. Some useful rehabilitation exercises for
1. Range-of-motion exercises: These exercises involve moving the
affected joint through its full range of motion to help improve flexibility
and reduce stiffness.
2. Strengthening exercises: Strengthening exercises involve using
weights or resistance bands to build muscle around the affected joint,
which can help improve joint stability and reduce pain.
3. Aerobic exercises: Low-impact aerobic exercises such as walking,
cycling, and swimming can help improve cardiovascular health and
reduce pain and inflammation in the affected joint.
4. Pilates & Yoga: These low-impact exercises can help improve
flexibility, balance, and muscle strength, which can help reduce pain
and improve joint function.
Other Techniques to Manage Osteoarthritis Pain
In addition to pain management techniques and rehabilitation exercises,
there are several other things that individuals with osteoarthritis can do
to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. These
1. Stress management: Often something ignored by most people.
General stress can lead to greater levels of inflammation and
pain. Managing stress in these scenarios is a form of pain
2. Assistive devices: Using assistive devices such as canes, braces,
and splints can help reduce pain and improve joint function by
providing additional support to the affected joint. These are more
important for those who have reached a point where they have
difficulties and weight bearing.
Book Your Appointment Today
Managing OA can be frustrating and for the best outcome and support
you can book an appointment in our clinic here or by calling us on 087-721-4265.
Our team will work with you to get the best outcomes available to
help you live a healthy happy life, not controlled by osteoarthritis.
Fitzgerald Physiotherapy Clinic.