‘Wear and tear’ is a common expression bounced around now-a-days to describe gradual arthritic changes in joints (particularly knees), which many of us may one day be faced with. Recent figures show that more than 8 million people in the UK are affected by Osteoarthritis (OA)1, which can result in pain, decreased mobility and giving way.
Wear and tear is in fact the thinning of cartilage and formation of bony spurs at the edges of the joint, which can rub and limit movement.
A common misconception is that this pain will increase, and your only option is to stop activity all together. Pain medication and anti-inflammatories can temporarily reduce symptoms, however are not a long term fix, and are not tolerated by everyone.
A more effective option can be Physiotherapy, which combined with regular exercise has been shown to be a cost-effective alternative treatment, providing large reductions in pain and stiffness2, 3. Physiotherapy can also decrease the need for a total knee replacement through the use of specific exercises – improving the quality of leg musculature which can often be reduced in OA, even though you may be pain-free4.
In general, regular exercise with an effective warm-up and cool-down is important in keeping joints healthy and muscles supple. With the 2012 Olympics approaching, is this a perfect time to get active and look after you future?!
- Arthritis Research UK, 2012.
- Deyle et al., 2005. Phys Ther;85:1301–1317
- Deyle et al., 2000. Ann Intern Med; 132:173–181
- Conroy et al., 2012. Arthritis Care Res;64(1): 15-12