What do you know about osteoarthritis (OA)?
Currently one in seven Australians have osteoarthritis, and it’s estimated that it will become one in five, by 2050. Osteoarthritis is basically the ‘wearing out’ of the cartilage surfaces of synovial joints, and the reasons are usually about 50% genetic and 50% environmental. In short, it’s all about load verses strength – usually OA occurs when there is too much weight and not enough strength to support the knee/hip joint.
There are many ‘traditional’ treatments, which unfortunately are largely ineffective – these are things like arthroscopy, injections, stem cell, Panadol and anti-inflammatories. All the current research is showing that exercise, weight loss and education are the best treatment for OA. The solution is for people to lose enough weight and build up enough muscle strength to support their knee/hip joint. For example, if a person can leg press their body weight, it’s likely that they can support themselves walking up stairs or squatting without pain.
And when it comes to getting information about your condition, scans – like X-rays and MRIs – provide only limited information. Physical testing (such as Body Mass Index (BMI), six-minute walk test, questionnaires, 80% heart rate max on stationary bike, strength testing in the gym) provide more useful information.
And that is why we started our OA program at Norths Fitness. It takes time to build an effective exercise program that people can continue independently. This is so we can ensure you have a program bespoke to your needs and a professional to guide you through it.
And leaving you on an important fact, if you did eventually need to get a knee or hip replacement, do you know the best age to do so? It’s 70! This means the replacement will probably last you the rest of your life. So if you are 55-60 years old, you need a 10-15 year plan to keep your symptoms under control. This will save you, the health system, and private insurance loads of money – it means one joint replacement in your life instead of two (or revision of your original). Knowing all of this, it’s also important to know that only 80% of knee replacements are successful. That means four in every five people are happy. One in five are either no better, or worse. So, our message to you is: Don’t have surgery until you have exhausted all other options. Surgery is a pain-relieving operation, not an operation that will allow you to improve your lifestyle. It only takes about a 10% loss of body weight to make a 50% improvement in your knee pain, so try a non-invasive exercise and strengthening program first.
So, if you’d like to learn more about managing your osteoarthritis, please reach out – we’re happy to help!