HOT OFF THE PRESS: ‘REVOLUTIONARY’ FINDINGS FOR TREATMENT OF OSTEOARTHRITIS
By Chris Stoddard.
I recently attended a seminar run by one of Newcastle’s leading orthopaedic specialists, Dr David Dewar.
It was one of the most refreshing and exciting conversations I’ve been a part of to date!
Dr Dewar is a driving force in Australia reforming the way we think about and manage hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA).
There is overwhelming evidence that (in most cases) the solution to the pain and issues with arthritic knees/hips is NOT surgery, NOT injections and NOT passive therapy.
Mountains of evidence are now pointing to the most effective solution being something much cheaper, a whole lot less risky and something that provides a multitude of other health benefits.
Guessed what it is yet?
Yep you got it, EXERCISE and weight loss!
We’ve (physiotherapists) been saying this for years but it is so good to hear the same message being supported by the rest of the medical community.
Let me remind you that Dr Dewar, and orthopaedic specialists in general, make their living from performing surgeries and procedures.
For them to accept and then advocate for a solution that will ultimately take away from their hip pocket should tell you something… this is for real!
Let me spell out exactly what we mean when we say exercise and weight loss.
In regards to losing weight it doesn’t have to be very much and can almost solely be done through some changes to your diet and eating habits.
Studies have shown that even a decrease of 3-5kg can make a meaningful difference on pain and function.
The easiest place to start with weight loss is taking stock of everything you eat and how much of it you consume.
You will undoubtedly find ways of cutting down on sugar, filling up on less calorie-dense foods and reducing portion size.
If you have absolutely no idea where to start we can recommend finding an Accredited Practising Dietician.
Exercise can also seem daunting when that can mean so many different things and when you have joints that are painful to even just stand on.
Sometimes ‘exercise’ is just starting with learning how to activate certain muscles.
If you work with a physiotherapist they will find an appropriate type AND level of exercise for you and will be able to progress you as your body allows.
Once a program is set up it is typically done 2-3 times a week, progressing to 3-4 sessions once properly established.
A good program will include some weight-bearing strength exercises, interval training (usually on a bike) and exercises to improve joint mobility.
Unfortunately it will take a while to overhaul the system and for Medicare to reflect the current knowledge on best management of OA but at least the wheels of change are beginning to turn.
What we envision is a Medicare subsidised system where you can have a physio, dietician, exercise physiologist etc. work every step of the way with you until you reach your goals, whether it takes 2 months or 12.
As it stands, you are eligible for 5 sessions over a year if you have been diagnosed with hip or knee OA.
Not quite the dream yet but better than nothing!
All you need to do is see your GP and enquire about an ‘EPC’ for physiotherapy!
Even without this you are more than welcome to come see one of our physiotherapists and we can help you get started on the pathway to moving with less pain and getting back to the things you love to do.