How can physiotherapy help?

462343889Physiotherapy Director Graham Mackay-Coghill from Sportsmed shares his expertise on how physiotherapy can play an important role in the management of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

In conjunction with information learned from GPs, physiotherapists can be a good source of health information for patients.

Osteoporosis is not necessarily painful unless associated with fractures and a preventative approach to its management is most important.

It has a strong genetic predisposition, so an exercise program may not always result in an increase in measureable bone density.

We stress the adverse effects of long term steroid use, the beneficial effects of a high calcium diet and the importance of effective posture to reduce spinal loading pain often experienced during prolonged sitting.

Exercise programs to improve balance are important to help prevent falls.

Osteoarthritis also has a genetic link but unlike osteoporosis, it is a degenerative condition, associated with accelerated wear and tear of joints associated with use.

We can teach how best to manage pain with helpful hints and a wide range of therapeutic modalities such as ‘hands-on’ joint mobilization, massage and exercise therapy.

What kind of exercises are useful?

Any successful exercise program demands a holistic approach and additional information regarding appropriate medication use, diet and weight minimization should be addressed.

The following strategies should be promoted, although a thorough understanding of each patient’s requirements is required to avoid injury.

Weight bearing exercise is the hallmark of osteoporosis management.

The condition can affect any bone, but it tends to affect the hips and spine predominantly, so a simple graded walking program with appropriate walking shoes is ideal. A graded walking program is important because too much walking too
soon can result in stress fractures.

Balance exercises are very important for people at risk of falling as people with lower bone density are more likely to fracture bones. In contrast, too little activity may not improve bone density.

Basic education and training regarding effective sitting and standing posture and the need to change posture frequently, is paramount.

We treat osteoarthritis with relatively low load movement-based exercise programs that promote muscle development and joint movement without aggravating joint pain.

Posture education and training, with a focus on avoiding prolonged static postures, is also an important aspect of care.

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