Active Seniors

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common problems for people over 55, and though many people see it as a normal part of ageing it can be avoided and managed!

OA can affect people in a large vast number of ways, causing considerable pain, stiffness and reduced quality of life, but research suggests that exercise vastly improve the lives of osteoarthritis sufferers.

Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joint that that predominately involves the degeneration cartilage. Cartilage is the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint and has a protective role. In OA, the top layer of cartilage breaks down and gradually wears away which allows the bones under the cartilage to rub together. The result of this is often pain and discomfort which can further result in a lack of movement and loss of flexibility in the joint which can create even more problems!

Did you know? The bones can even actually change shape and grow spurs, an excellent example to see this is in people who have osteoarthritis in their hands and fingers where  you may have notice a changed shape.

Am I at risk?

The following five factors put you at a greater risk of developing OA

  • Age – Wear on joints increases with age
  • Excess Weight – Body fat produces chemicals that can travel through the body and cause joint damage
  • Injury or Overuse – Jobs involving manual labour or repetitive movements
  • Genetics or Heredity
  • Muscle weakness

Exercise and Osteoarthritis

Unfortunately many people have the view that once they have osteoarthritis nothing can be done and exercise will just make it worse! This is definitely not the case as exercise is a vital component of the disease management no matter how severe the damage to the cartilage is. Many people believe that once they have OA there is nothing they can do but that is not the case. The health of our joints relies on movement of the fluid within the joints as this provides the cartilage with the nutrients it needs. This is achieved through exercise that moves the joints and hence causes the fluid to come into contact with the entire joint surface. Without this nutrition, the cartilage will degenerate at a faster rate causing both stiffness and pain.

Check back to active seniors next week as we begin to look further into how exercise helps Osteoarthritis and what type of exercises are important.

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