The term arthritis is a general one that can refer to over 150 different conditions. The three most common types of arthritis found in Australians are osteoarthritis, gout and rheumatoid arthritis, which can affect all ages, backgrounds and lifestyles.

Arthritis can pose some challenges to everyday activities however, it’s important to learn how to manage the symptoms to continue to live a fulfilling life.

Epworth Rehabilitation Senior Orthopaedic Physiotherapist, Jennifer Gillett, says there’s a common worry among people with arthritis that any physical activity or movement can increase pain when this is not the case. A lack of movement can lead to weakness, increased pain, loss of joint protection and increased instability of the joint.

Improving physical function and exercise activity can be a great benefit. The right type and level of exercise or activity for your condition can lead to an increase in energy levels, mobility and function and a decrease in pain.

Studies have also shown that diet can play a significant role in managing arthritis. Weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the stress on your joints, therefore reducing pain; people can notice a 30% improvement in joint pain and function with a 5% reduction in body weight.

Foods high in omega-3 such as fish and nuts are highly recommended along with a Mediterranean diet plan, which emphasises plant-based foods.

If arthritis is a factor in your life, knowledge is also an empowering tool to help you understand and manage the condition.

All of these components are covered in Epworth’s rehabilitation program for arthritis.

While surgery can provide another solution for people living with arthritis, it is an option usually recommended for those with end-stage arthritis,” Jennifer says. “Rehabilitation can be a successful tool to help manage arthritis without the need for surgery, or in preparation for surgery.

Together, a rehabilitation doctor and allied health professionals, which include physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, occupational therapists, dietitians and psychologists, will provide you with tools, techniques and knowledge to help you confidently manage arthritis and undertake regular physical activity.

As with all health matters, it is important to seek consultation from your GP or specialist and a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist who has experience in managing arthritic conditions.

You should discuss the possibility of rehabilitation with your medical professional if you want to learn ways to manage arthritis or if you’ve experienced any of the following:

  • Pain preventing you from:
    • sleeping at night
    • exercising or doing other activities
    • working.
  • Pain that is not responding to treatments.
  • Difficulty looking after yourself (trouble with getting out of a chair, preparing meals, showering).

10 January 2019