Osteoarthritis (OA) is very common in older Canadians, and it is often thought to result from joint changes that occur as part of the normal aging process. However, OA can also affect people as young as their 20s and 30s. The causes of OA are not fully understood, but moderate use of normal joints over the lifespan does not increase the risk of developing arthritis.
It is known that OA begins with problems with the articular cartilage in joints. This cartilage is a thin layer of resilient tissue that lines the ends of every bone in a joint. The cartilage allows smooth movement of the joint and provides shock absorption. Repeated high loads and twisting stresses may increase the risk of cartilage damage occurring in a normal joint. Individuals with any abnormal joint anatomy, instability, or decreased muscle strength are also potentially at higher risk for developing degenerative changes in their articular cartilage. Ultimately those changes progress and involve the whole joint including the bone, ligaments, and other joint structures.
Current research tells us that cartilage needs a certain amount of ongoing “healthy” load to function properly. The GLA:D® program (Good Living with Arthritis: Denmark) was developed by Danish researchers to help people with hip and knee OA symptoms by providing “healthy” loading to those joints. It is a structured program of appropriate exercises to strengthen and mobilize the lower limb. The exercises target correct alignment of the joints, while strengthening muscles that are key to supporting the hip and knee. The program consists of supervised small group exercise sessions twice weekly for six weeks plus two education sessions. To date, it has been offered in a few centres across Canada with very good outcomes including decreased pain, increased activity levels and delayed joint replacement surgery.
Best Health Physiotherapy is very excited to be offering the GLA:D™ Canada program to our community beginning May, 2018. Call 613 634 2378 for more information and to reserve your spot in the class.