For too many people with osteoarthritis (OA), life becomes a painful exercise in waiting for surgical joint replacement
Mild to moderate symptoms from OA are often described as “wear and tear” and people avoid activity and exercise, take pain meds and learn to live with the pain until it gets so bad that they meet the criteria for joint replacement.
This “usual care” paradigm is beginning to change.
Increasing evidence shows that there are a number of strategies that will improve pain from OA:
Targeted exercise has been pioneered by the Danes who have shown that a 6 week program teaching specific neuromuscular exercises can result in significant changes even 1 year after the program:
The benefit of these targeted neuromuscular exercises can even provide benefit for people with severre osteoarthritis.
Perhap the most interesting research from Denmark, was the landmark randomized double blind study of total knee replacement vs a comprehensive lifestyle approach.
In this study people were randomized to either a total knee replacement followed by a 12 weeks non-surgical lifestyle treatment program OR the 12 week non-surgical treatment program alone. This program consisted of five interventions: exercise, education, dietary advice, use of insoles, and pain medication.
Not surprisingly, the outcomes showed that the group that received surgery followed by non-surgical lifestyle treatment had better function and less pain that the group that did not receive surgery.
What was surprising was that 74% of the group that received non-surgical lifestyle treatment did pursue surgery in the one year follow-up.
In other words, a 12 week lifestyle program was enough for people to avoid or at least significantly delay surgery (and the potential adverse effects of major surgery).
This pioneering Danish work has been developed into a program called Good Life with Osteoarthritis in Denmark (GLA:D® Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis Program) and brought to Canada through the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation in partnership with Bone and Joint Canada.
Developing a personalized, multifaceted lifestyle strategy to prevent and reverse symptoms related to osteoarthritis is a key component to the Wellness Garage approach to Vital Longevity.
Dr. Brendan Byrne