Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition that the general public has a fairly high level of awareness of. Many people understand that OA is a painful health issue that stems from inflammation. However, it is only those who experience osteoarthritis for themselves who understand how life altering it can be.

Sustaining a condition that causes pain can be physically and emotionally isolating. People with osteoarthritis need to know that they are not alone in their plight. In fact, about 50 percent of the population may develop OA by the time they are 85. Also, around two-thirds of obese individuals may end up with arthritic knees. Statistics Canada stated, “Although arthritis is associated with aging, a substantial number of Canadians in their prime working years report this condition. At ages 45 to 64, for example, 17.2% of males and 24.8% of females, representing more than 1.9 million people, reported a diagnosis of arthritis in 2008.” Obviously, no arthritis sufferer is alone in his or her struggle.

5 Things Everyone with Osteoarthritis Should Know

Are you one of the millions of Canadians who has osteoarthritis? If so, there are a few things you should know about the disease…

#1 – It is more common in women than men – Both osteoarthritis (a degenerative joint disease) and rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease) are more common in females than males. This explains why it’s especially important that women take preventative measure against these conditions.

#2 – Preventative measures should be taken against it – Osteoarthritis is not always completely preventable. However, like many diseases, its development can be stalled and its symptoms lessened by taking preventative measures. The Arthritis Foundation recommends maintaining a healthy weight, exercising for 30 minutes 5 times a week, and seeing a physiotherapist or physician immediately upon injuring a joint.

#3 – Moving will decrease, not increase, its symptoms – It makes sense that moving would cause the symptoms of OA to increase. This is not the case. The reverse is true — moving more, not less, decreases arthritic pain. While every case of OA is different, most patients should be as physically active as is appropriate for them. (Note: please seek the advice of a medical professional before starting an exercise regime.)

#4 – It is affected by diet – Since OA is an inflammatory disease, an anti-inflammatory diet may ease its symptoms. Also, new research shows that uncontrolled blood sugar contributes to the development of osteoarthritis. Linda Rath, contributor to the Arthritis Foundation, wrote, “The latest research suggests that diabetes, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar (glucose), may be a significant risk factor for osteoarthritis. That’s because high glucose levels speed the formation of certain molecules that make cartilage stiffer and more sensitive to mechanical stress. Diabetes can also trigger systemic inflammation that leads to cartilage loss.”

#5 – It’s treatable – If you have osteoarthritis, don’t despair: it is treatable. A variety of therapies have been shown to lessen the symptoms of arthritis; physiotherapy is one. Drug-free and highly effective, physiotherapy can significantly reduce arthritic pain. Physiotherapist Nicole Hills wrote, “Physiotherapists can help you find the right exercises and activity to help improve pain and discomfort caused by OA while also improving your overall health. It’s really important to find a balance between strengthening your muscles, while not irritating your joints. Physio can help with that.”

Don’t leave osteoarthritis untreated for one more day. Why suffer when you can possibly experience relief? Reach out to a physiotherapist to schedule an appointment. If you live near Winnipeg, Elite Sports Injury Physiotherapy Clinic may be the perfect place for you.

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