As humans, we have been conditioned to believe that joint pain and arthritis are signs of growing old. Head of Physiotherapy at HEAL Institute, Manasi Rajadhyaksha says “Pain is your body’s way of sending a message- message that it needs your immediate help and attention. While clients tend to take pain killers and ensure temporary relief, understanding the cause of the pain is crucial for any relief”
Our skeleton is made up of 206 bones and the various joints between them are the basic framework of the structure of our bodies. The bones support the structure and help in force transmission across different areas and the joints formed between bones help this by enabling movements. However the joints have a variety of protective soft structures like joint capsule, cartilage, ligaments and muscles to help maintain their integrity and alignment and to help diffusion of the various forces impacting the body.
Human body undergoes a growth phase (i.e. repair is proportionately faster and more than wear and tear) in our teens and early adulthood, following which the body transforms into a degenerative phase (i.e. repair is proportionately slower and lesser than wear and tear). As our bodies undergo movement and functions it takes care of a load (equally proportional to our body weight) and the equal and opposite forces impacting the body with the help of the soft structures and bones and joints.
With age as the wear and tear increases, the supportive soft structures may be rendered unable to dissipate the impounding forces as and when needed and cause degeneration of the joint and structures within it. However if we work to make these soft tissues i.e. mainly the muscles more efficient, they will help better distribution and dissipation of impacting forces and help us protect the joints. Other factors like deficiency of Vit D3 and Calcium further accelerate joint problems as these vitamins and minerals help maintain the basic integrity of the bones and joints.
By appropriately assessing the exact cause of the joint pain and then prescribing the corresponding therapy, Physiotherapy can help you prevent, alleviate or reduce the further degeneration of weak and painful joints. Physiotherapy is administered depending on the cause of the joint pain i.e. Degenerative like Osteoarthritic, Osteoporotic or Systemic like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosying Spondylosis, Osteopenia. In degenerative joint pain, Physiotherapy has a preventive as well as symptom management role as compared to that in Systemic joint pain.
Remember that joint pain is not always worst enough to require immediate surgical intervention. If detected early, the appropriate Physiotherapy and Exercise therapy can help prevent the rapid degeneration of the joint and help avoid surgery.
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Manasi Rajadhyaksha is the Head of Physiotherapy at The HEAL Institute. She has a MSc Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation from University of Kent, UK and worked for the past 9 years with leading health care institutions in India and United Kingdom.