In 1996, September 8 was designated as World Physical Therapy Day. This is the date on which World Physical Therapy was founded in 1951.
This day marks the unity and solidarity of the global physical therapy community. It is an opportunity to recognize the profession’s contribution to the promotion of health and its contribution to the advancement of science.
The theme chosen by World Physiotherapy for this day is osteoarthritis and the role of the physiotherapist in its management. Today, 520 million people worldwide suffer from osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease. It can affect any movable joint, most commonly the knees, hips and hands. It can start with a minor or major injury to the joint.
Early in the disease process, the body has the resources to repair these changes. As the disease progresses, the body’s repair system can no longer keep up and the joint tissues begin to break down, resulting in thinning of the cartilage, bone reshaping, bone lumps and joint inflammation.
Despite these changes, the joint can still function normally without pain or stiffness.
What causes osteoarthritis ?
The exact cause of osteoarthritis is not yet known. Risk factors that increase the risk of osteoarthritis include:
- Being overweight or obese.
- History of injury or surgery to the joint and/or overuse of the joint.
- Genetic history (for example, a family history of osteoarthritis).
How can physical therapy help ?
Exercise is the first-line treatment for osteoarthritis. In addition to helping you choose the best exercises, physical therapists provide advice and information about pain relief and how to live better with osteoarthritis. They can teach you how to improve your joint movement and walking, and how to strengthen your muscles.
If you are going to have joint replacement surgery, you are also likely to see a physical therapist before and after the surgery. The physical therapist will help you prepare to get the most out of the surgery and recover well after the surgery.
To learn more about osteoarthritis, download the following documents :
Running and osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis : a global problem
Osteoarthritis : fact or myth ?
Exercising with osteoarthritis