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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is the outlook for mild osteoarthritis?

    I have just been told i have mild osteoarthritis in my foot - what is the outlook for such a condition - is it chronic or can it be reversed?
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  • 1

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    Amy MacLaine

    Exercise Physiologist

    Full-time Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Body Dynamics Illawarra (Bulli). Body Dynamics Illawarra is a small gym-based Exercise Physiology clinic established by Jennifer and Alan Wilkie … View Profile

    Osteoarthritis (OA) is the decrease of the cartilage on the bones in the joints that allows for ‘smooth movement’. It cannot be reversed, although it can be successfully managed.

    The ‘outlook’ is dependant on a lot of variables. Many people have some form of OA without even realising it. You may or may not feel pain, the pain could be consistent or dependant on certain activities / weather / medication. The fact that you have OA in your foot makes the management of your OA important (as you use it everyday!).

    You should consult an exercise physiologist for an individualised exercise program focusing on strengthening, stability and actually using the affected limb with minimal aggravation. Its important to move the affected joints in OA, as it is the movement of the joint that encourages ‘lubrication’ of the joint (as compression on the remaining cartilage allows for slimey fluid to be ‘squeezed’ into the joint). Sensible pain management medication can be used to assist you in keeping up with your exercise program - although this is something to discuss with your GP or pharmacist.

      

  • Fumi Somehara

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Fumi is a dietitian (APD) specialising in Dancers' Health and Eating Disorders Treatment. Her work is grounded in Health At Every Size (R) and Non-Diet … View Profile

    Like Amy has kindly answered already, OA can't be reversed but it can be manageed successfully so to prevent or slow down the progression of it.

    Working with an exercise physiologist for the right type of exercise, and with a dietitian to nourish your body with the right nutrients, can help you manage the OA. Try to enjoy a variety of colourful fruits and veg, some oily fish and nuts, wholegrain, and dairy or other calcium-rich foods.

  • 1

    Agree

    Dr Chien-Wen Liew

    Orthopaedic Surgeon

    Adelaide Orthopaedic HIP, KNEE and SHOULDER Surgeon specialising in Sports Injury and Joint Replacement. View Profile

    This depends on where the arthritis is, and why it is there. Foot arthritis is generally treated with footwear modification, and special inserts that give you the best chance of optimising your treatment. If it there due to an injury such as a previous crush injury, fracture or deformity, then sometimes that can be surgically corrected. If your arthritis is there due to wear and tear, then optimising your non operative measures it the best course of action. 

    Pain relievers such as Panadol Osteo, and natural anti-inflammatories such as Glucosamine and Fish Oil can help. 

    When your arthritis starts to impact upon your quality of life, like being in constant pain, or having difficulties walking, then surgery may be indicated. In the foot, this is often in the form of a fusion, where the joint is stiffened. This is good for pain reduction, but limits the mobility of a particular joint. 

    If your arthritis is only mild, then start with footwear modification, with referral to a Podiatrist in the initial phases. You shouldn't need to see an orthopaedic surgeon unless it becomes severe. 

    I hope this helps to answer your question.

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