By: Jamie Kloss, DPT & Christy Baker, PT of ApexNetwork Physical Therapy in Effingham, IL
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a very common diagnosis in which physical therapists encounter while treating their patients. Hip and knee OA can cause debilitating pain and is a common cause of mobility impairments in elderly patients. It is imperative, as a physical therapist, to have a complete understanding of the diagnosis and about non-surgical treatment options to best benefit patients. Education is another key aspect of the physical therapy profession; They must have the knowledge to be able to adequately educate patients on their diagnosis and treatment plans.
OA can be diagnosed through patient’s history and a physical examination. Once the diagnosis is determined, it is important for the patient and primary care provider to be in agreement on the course of action. This is where physical therapists can come into play. Physical therapists are movement analysis experts and highly educated professionals about exercise and its benefits.
Commonly, patients with OA will attend physical therapy to decrease their pain and swelling, to improve their functional mobility, and decrease any further decline. Physical therapists need to educate each individual patient on their finding, the benefits of exercise, risk factors that can be modifiable, and potentially the use of an assistive device to take load off the affected joint. Although we cannot reverse the effects of OA, physical therapists can prevent further deterioration and help to maximize a patient’s functional mobility and independence though non-surgical management.
OA affects primarily the elderly population but can also occur in the younger population who are involved in repetitive activities and high impact activities. It is a diagnosis that physical therapist will continually see and must have a thorough understanding of the diagnosis itself and the methods of treatment.
For additional information on the treatment of Osteoarthritis, please contact Effingham clinic at 217-280-4550 or visit www.apexnetworkpt.com.