Diagnosis: Arthritis (Osteoarthritis)

 In Prolonging Health



Arthritis presents as a stiff and achy joint in one part or many parts of the body. Arthritis can occur in any joint of the body, however high wear areas are more susceptible. The most commonly affected joints are the knees, hips and the joints of the fingers. People who suffer from arthritis will have pain that will worsen with activity and get better after relative rest, their effected joints will tend to be more stiff and symptomatic in the morning. People with arthritis in the joints of their legs may also experience “locking” or “giving way” during various activities (Manno, 2016).

Arthritis presents as a stiff and achy joint in one part or many parts of the body. #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet


A clinical diagnosis of arthritis is normally justified after the therapist has analysed a combination of symptoms, physical examinations and sometimes x-ray results. The symptoms that a therapist is looking for, may include deep joint pain that is aggravated by certain activities and stiffness after rest. Osteoarthritis is an overuse condition, thus the evidence for arthritis is strongly considered if the person has more joint degeneration. Degeneration is common in people over 50, or those who are overweight/obese and those who have a history of high joint use (sport or labour).  In the physical examination, the therapist expects to find decreased range of motion, crepitus (cracky joints) and general soreness when feeling over the skin. (“Osteoarthritis”, 2016).


Arthritis is thought to be a somewhat genetically determined condition, however it is also contributed to by repetitive use of the joints. High use and repetitive trauma can be caused by one, or a combination of: Old age, high BMI high impact sport or activity (occupation in some cases) and previous injury. Old age is a cause, simply because older joints tend to have endured more wear and tear. Arthritis is a very common part of ageing for people who are genetically susceptible. High BMI will cause more stress through the joints during movement which causes them to degrade faster. High impact sport and activity causes higher wear and tear especially court sports with hard surfaces like netball, basketball and volleyball. Finally, previous injury to joints may cause them to abnormally load and degrade, for example, injuries to the knee like ACL tears and meniscus tears will drastically increase one’s chance of getting arthritis in that joint (“Causes Of Arthritis”, 2016).


Treatment of arthritis has been proven to be very effective, it typically involves pain treatment, eliminating the causes/risk factors and exercise therapy. Manual therapy, massage, heat/ice, compression, anti-inflammatory gels, and medications are common pain relievers for osteoarthritis. Patients are recommended to reduce their further risk by lowering body weight, stopping/limiting high impact activities and substituting for lower impact exercises such as swimming and resistance training. Exercise therapy has been proven to be very important, osteoarthritis sufferers are encouraged to stay active and exercise in the presence of mild pain (Roddy, 2005).

Daniel O’Connor
Student Physiotherapist


Causes Of Arthritis. (2016). Arthritis Queensland. Retrieved 28 September 2016, from http://www.arthritis.org.au/arthritis/causes-of-arthritis/

Manno, R. (2016). Osteoarthritis : Signs and Symptoms. Hopkins Arthritis.org. Retrieved 28 September 2016, from http://www.hopkinsarthritis.org/arthritis-info/osteoarthritis/signs-and-symptoms/

Osteoarthritis. (2016). Arthritis Queensland. Retrieved 28 September 2016, from http://www.arthritis.org.au/arthritis/osteoarthritis/?gclid=Cj0KEQjw9IS-BRC4qZXagbLs6uMBEiQAYHBh–3BEA2_gteu2HdDes0BVw1DaKNxf2mRb6Lx0z5ymFIaAidS8P8HAQ

Roddy, E. (2005). Evidence-based recommendations for the role of exercise in the management of osteoarthritis of the hip or knee–the MOVE consensus. Rheumatology, 44(1), 67-73.

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