Diagnosis: Osteoarthritis (OA)

 In Exercise and Health

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a common joint chronic joint condition affecting a large population. The most common places for this condition to occur are at the hips, knees, lower back and neck1.

Osteoarthritis is a common joint chronic joint condition affecting the hips, knees, lower back and neck. #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

The symptoms of OA vary depending on which joints are affected and how severely they are affected1. The most common symptoms are pain and stiffness particularly first thing in the morning or after rest. After activity these joints may also become inflamed and swollen. Symptoms of OA usually build up slowly over time, rather than occur suddenly1. Some other symptoms include1:

  • Reduced movement or stiffness in the affected joint or joints
  • Clicking or cracking of the joints
  • Bony outgrowths near the affected joints

How is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose OA the physiotherapist will collect a detailed history of the symptoms and perform a physical examination of the affected joints2. The most common response from those who  may  suffer  from  OA is  stiffness  and pain in the morning, which eases up  during the day.  During the physical exam the physiotherapist may imaged using   an MRI or x-ray to to determine the structures damaged and the amount of damage3.


http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/content/images/articles/ 027/27871/diagram­‐o-­‐osteoarthritis­‐in­‐knee­‐joint.jpg

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

OA tends to occur mainly in older adults over 65 years1. Normally the joints contain a rubbery material know as cartilage between them. This cartilage provides a smooth surface so the joints glide over  each other with ease or without pain2. With age this cartilage starts to wear down causing swelling, pain and difficulty with movement. As the condition progresses, there may be some damage to the bone and there may be growth or little bony pieces around the joints affected causing further pain and difficulty moving3.

How is Osteoarthritis treated?

There are no cures for OA. However, through the help of your GP and physiotherapist it can be managed well. The GP may prescribe medications than help with the pain and inflammation. The physiotherapist will help manage the symptoms through stretching and exercise. One of the best ways to manage OA is physical activity2. Activities such as: swimming, tai chi, yoga, gentle walking and strengthening exercises is an effective way to reduce pain and stiffness as well as restore movement and flexibility in the affected joints. In some cases weight loss can have a significant impact on pain and improve mobility3. Physiotherapists can also perform techniques for the affected joint in order to help with the symptoms.

Shanam Nisha
Student Physiotherapist


  1. https://betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/osteoarthritis
  2. http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritisinformation/conditions/osteoarthritis/di aspx
  3. http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritisinformation/conditions/osteoarthritis/di aspx

pain free performance Gold Coast physio

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