What is osteoarthritis and arthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people around the world. Often called wear-and-tear arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time.   While osteoarthritis can damage any joint in your body, this disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, neck, lower back, knees and hips. Every sport and every occupation has its own OA destiny, and we all try to pace ourselves so that we can do what we love as long as possible.    

What is the prognosis of osteoarthritis and arthritis?

Osteoarthritis gradually worsens with time, and no cure exists, however, a personal improvement plan that is medically focused, can minimize the risk and in some cases prevent osteoarthritis all together. If you already have signs of osteoarthritis, physiotherapy and massage can help to relieve pain and improve joint function and along with a personal improvement plan, will help minimize its progression.   Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in your joints deteriorates over time. Cartilage is a firm, smooth tissue that permits nearly frictionless joint motion. In osteoarthritis, the slick surface of the cartilage becomes rough. Eventually, if the cartilage wears down completely, you may be left with bone rubbing on bone.


What factors increase the risk of Osteoarthritis?

  • Older age. The risk of osteoarthritis increases with age.
  • Gender. Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis, though it isn't clear why.
  • Bone deformities. Some people are born with malformed joints or defective cartilage, which can increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
  • Joint injuries. Injuries, such as those that occur when playing sports or from an accident, may increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
  • Obesity. Carrying more body weight places more stress on your weight-bearing joints, such as your knees.
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Cartilage depends on joint use for its nutrition.
  • Repetitive forces, abnormal forces, and excessive forces. Repeating a good movement pattern too many times, or performing an improper movement pattern, or over loading your body with excessive forces can cause joint damage
  • Certain occupations. If your job includes tasks that place repetitive stress on a particular joint, that may predispose that joint toward eventually developing osteoarthritis. Some movement patterns are not healthy no matter how much you try to make them right.
  • Other diseases. Having diabetes, underactive thyroid, gout or Paget's disease of bone can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
  There's no known cure for osteoarthritis, but treatments can help to reduce pain and maintain joint movement. Nutrition is absolutely essential to bone and joint health and proper biomechanical function and movement patterns can prevent the onset of osteoarthritis.    

How can physiotherapy and massage therapy help osteoarthritis and arthritis?

Your physiotherapist can work with you to create an individualized exercise regimen that will strengthen the muscles around your joint, increase the range of motion in your joint and reduce your pain. Manual therapy can increase joint motion and in so doing can improve the health of your joints. Your massage therapist can release the soft tissue imbalances and reduce the stress on your joints and your bones.    

How can exercise and physical development help after osteoarthritis and arthritis?

Massage Therapy

The goal of the Massage Therapist is to reduce pain and spasm in the affected muscles as well as decreasing the compression and the disc and nerve. By evaluating and determining where the tone and restrictions are, massage therapy can help release and restore soft tissues. Common muscles that are affected with back pain are erector spinae, latisimus dorsi, quadratus lumborum, piriformis, gluteals, hamtrings and quadriceps. Techniques used for back pain is dependent on the stage, if it is acute or chronic. Myofascial and gentle Swedish massage techniques are used during the acute phase and then progressing to deep tissue, Swedish massage and trigger point techniques. During either stage the focus is to release and decrease tone and spasm in the musculature of the back and legs.


Physiotherapy Exercise Training

As pain improves, the physiotherapist will perform a functional movement screen and evaluate the functional and biomechanical roots to your back pain. This information, along with the orthopedic examination performed on your initial visit will be analyzed, a physiotherapy diagnosis made, and treatment plan of exercises to correct any deficiencies that you may have including flexibility, endurance, posture, alignment, and core and back strengthen.    

How can exercise and physical development help after back pain?

Assessment of Functional Movement

We start with a functional movement screen that looks at some of the essential movement skills for daily living and also for an activity based lifestyle. This information in addition to our previous orthopaedic assessment findings will allow us to develop a personal improvement plan just for you. This plan will have specific goals, be measurable, will call you to action, will be realistic, and will be time sensitive so that you will see progress and we will monitor and support your success from a medically based standpoint and from a sports science stand point.


Rehabilitative Exercise with a painful arthritis

It is important to regain functional range of motion, as well as to strengthen the muscles which help to support the specific joints that are arthritic. In addition to manual hands on therapy techniques, exercises to increase range of motion can be performed at home and at physiotherapy. These include flexion movements, extension, side flexion, and rotation movements and are specific to the anatomy of each joint involved. Your Physiotherapist will perform manual therapy techniques to release restrictions, and restore joint movements called arthrokinematic movements and follow up with range of motion exercises in order to maintain this new range of motion. Range of motion exercises can help to decrease pain and improve joint health by aiding blood and joint nutrition. The next important goal is to regain strength and movement mechanics. There are a exercises that progressively develop strength while at the same time progressively load the joint. Your Physiotherapist will advise which exercises are appropriate and will help progress the exercises throughout the course of the treatment plan.


Physical Development after Back Pain

The final step is to establish a personal improvement health plan to continue to develop physically throughout your life. This is especially necessary after having a painful condition or injury when you have become deconditioned. All of our staff have a combination of health sciences and sports sciences training, having dual training in both kinesiology and physiotherapy and allowing us to provide a biomechanical focus. Once you have recovered from your pain, our therapists will perform a functional movement screen and analysis to identify individual muscle imbalances that are unique to your inherited structure, to your movement patterns, and to your goals and interests in living a healthy physical life. We develop a individualized program that focus on:  
  • Your specific imbalances and movement patterns at work, home, and those evident during the activities that you participate in.
  • You structural and genetic posture and alignment characterizes and how they affect your interests to do activity etc.
  • We look at the ergonomics specific to your workplace and home

How can low intensity laser therapy help osteoarthritis and arthritis?

Low Intensity Laser Therapy (LILT) is the use of monochromatic light. Meditech Bioflex has been producing this technology for 20 years and has an extensive in house clinical lab.   The light source is placed in contact with the skin allowing the photon energy to penetrate tissue, where it interacts with various intracellular biomolecules resulting in the restoration of normal cell morphology and function. This process also enhances the body's natural healing propensities.   Low Intensity Laser Therapy does not heat or cut tissue. Unlike many pharmacological treatments that mask pain or only address the symptoms of the disease, Laser Therapy treats the underlying condition or pathology to promote healing. The technology utilizes superluminous laser diodes to irradiate diseased or traumatized tissue with photons. These particles of energy are selectively absorbed by the cell membrane and intracellular molecules, resulting in the initiation of a cascade of complex physiological reactions, leading to the restoration of normal cell structure and function.   The process is curative and therefore results in the elimination of symptoms including pain. In addition, it enhances the body’s immune system response and facilitates natural healing. The therapy is completely safe and has no adverse side effects. The technology is highly effective in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, arthritis, sports injuries, wound healing and a wide range of dermatological conditions. Whiplash injury typically involves injury to muscles, ligaments, and joints and typically involve several levels and a more wide spread area of injury due to the force full nature of the injury. Muscles of the neck, although short, cross over several joints and so the discomfort is generally more global initially. Laser therapy directed by multiple diodes are able to reach these tissues.    

Physiological effects of Low Intensity Laser Therapy

With LILT there is an increased production and release of:  
  • Endorphins which - natural analgesics
  • Cortisol – a precursor of cortisone
  • Growth hormone – instrumental in tissue repair
  • ATP – improves and regulates cellular metabolism
  • An increase in protein synthesis – collagen, DNA, fibroblasts
  • A facilitated venous and lymphatic flow
  • Increased angiogenesis – the elevation of oxygen saturation
  • Enhanced immune response
  These responses are some of the many processes that accelerate cellular regeneration (cartilage, epithelium) and restore normal cell morphology and function. Treatments are typically 25 minutes to over 1 hour depending on the condition and area being treated   The most popular technical / clinical information requested is available on the Meditech website under Laser Reports. You may visit the Meditech website research section directly for detailed abstracts, case profiles and articles on a variety of topics relating to the use of low intensity laser therapy in the treatment of various medical conditions.    

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