Osteoarthritis symptoms and treatments

Published 14 Feb 2022

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis and affects the joints.

Geelong Physiotherapist Rachel Payne BHlthSc. M.Physio Prac, explains the common symptoms and treatments.

The ends of bones are lined with cartilage to help cushion joints. Overtime this cartilage can thin, meaning joints may not glide as freely and cause pain.

Most adults aged over 65 years will have some level of osteoarthritis, though it doesn’t always mean you have pain. Some people may have significant arthritis which shows on an x-ray and yet have no symptoms or pain at all.

Common symptoms

The most common symptoms for anyone with osteoarthritis are joint stiffness, loss of movement and pain. Joint stiffness can be most common in the morning, or after sitting a long time. So, it’s important to keep your joints moving. Here’s some great tips for maintaining physical activity with arthritis.

Common treatments

Most treatments for osteoarthritis are aimed at easing pain and increasing function. 

  • Physiotherapy, including hydrotherapy
  • Exercises are important to maintain or increase movement of joints and to strengthen muscles surrounding joints. The muscles act to help support joints and this in turn can reduce levels of pain
  • Gait aids, also known as walking or mobility aids can provide stability and support to keep you moving while reducing weight bearing
  • Pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications prescribed by your doctor
  • Weight management, as increased weight can increase the load put through joints it’s important to try and maintain a healthy weight range. It can help to protect the cartilage and reduce pain experienced from osteoarthritis
  • Joint replacement surgery; most commonly total hip, knee and shoulder replacement surgeries. Replacement surgery can be performed when symptoms are no longer manageable and have a significant impact on a person’s ability to walk or complete everyday activities.  Surgery often involves replacing the ends of bone and joint with a prosthetic implant.  Extensive rehabilitation, guided by a physiotherapist and your orthopedic surgeon, is required after this kind of procedure

More information