Making simple lifestyle changes within six months of a diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis may lead to improvements in pain and function, the results of a new study indicate.
There are over 100 different types of arthritis, however the most common form is osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease. The majority of Irish people over the age of 55 have evidence of the condition at some joint in their body. While it is most common in the elderly, it is not just caused by the ageing process. Other factors, such as obesity, may contribute to its development.
As part of this latest study, pharmacists in 27 pharmacies in Canada identified 190 people with previously undiagnosed knee OA. The average age of the participants was 63 and most were women who were overweight or obese.
The participants were monitored for six months after the OA diagnosis.
The study found that those who made lifestyle changes, such as exercising more, saw an improvement in function and experienced less pain.
In the first month, less than 50% of the people initiated aerobic, strength or endurance exercises such as cycling or walking. By month six, almost 75% claimed to engage in routine exercise and 80% of those who exercised stated that it helped ease their condition.
Activity aids such as acupuncture, knee tape, knee braces and shoe inserts were used by 33% of participants and 75% of these found the aids to be helpful.
The study also found that over half of participants started taking analgesics (painkillers) for their OA, while 36% began taking natural medicine supplements. By the end of the six months, 50% said that the analgesics and natural supplements were beneficial in managing their condition.
Details of these findings are published in the journal, Arthritis Care & Research.
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