“It’s just bone-on-bone in there.” We know you’ve heard it, and maybe you’ve even said it. The phrase “bone on bone” refers to osteoarthritis, which is characterized as degenerative changes in the bone, joint cartilage, and soft tissue structures that surround a joint. It can occur in any joint of the body, but commonly we see it in joints vitally important to our function, such as knees, hips, and hands (especially the thumb). It’s another gift of aging, as it’s prevalent in people over 60 years old. It can be painful and difficult to live with.

I have another phrase if you have osteoarthritis. “Motion is lotion.” While it may feel counterintuitive to exercise when you hurt, stronger muscles can help to offload the forces placed on an arthritic joint. Physical therapy can help you with this! There’s little we can do to improve the conditions of the joint itself, but we can prescribe you proper exercises to improve your strength and mobility.

Why bother? If you’re able to exercise, you can delay the necessity of a joint replacement. It’s uncommon to see joint replacements in the hand, but we see joint replacements for the hip and knee often. Exercise and weight loss, as appropriate, are tools that can delay surgery as long as possible. The longer arthritis progresses, the higher the chances of muscular weakness, so why not start now?

If there is one method of exercise that is best for any joint with osteoarthritis, it’s pool exercise. You don’t need to swim laps but being in the water decreases the effects of gravity on the body, which can improve blood flow and help manage pain. Plus, you’ll be able to work harder in the pool than you may be able to do otherwise.

In upcoming posts, we’ll be sharing tips and tricks for your knee and hip osteoarthritis, beyond pool exercise. However, if you’re in pain as you read this, don’t hesitate to give us a call and set an appointment for physical therapy today!

By Laura Vroman