Rehabilitation occupies a place of choice in the non-pharmacological treatment of osteoarthritis

Edito of 06/17/2015

Along with physical activity and the control of weight, functional rehabilitation belongs to the non pharmacological measures in the treatment of osteoarthritis. This rehabilitation has 4 objectives: pain relief, improvement of joint function, to slow down osteo-cartilage degradation and to prepare for a possible surgical operation.

The assistance of a physical therapist is justified in several circumstances. Firstly, at the start of the rehabilitation, when the joint context and the general condition of the patient with osteoarthritis should be taken into account and exercises have to be demonstrated and verified. Afterwards, when the implantation of a prosthesis has been envisaged to relieve/treat the osteoarthritis. Before surgery, it is important to improve joint mobility, strengthen the muscles and teach the patients how to walk immediately after surgery. After surgery, to relieve pain and acquire a good stability in the operated joint (knee or hip).

However, the functional rehabilitation of the joint suffering from osteoarthritis is not necessarily over. After the sessions that "kick-start" the rehabilitation, it is up to the patient to take over and start a self-rehabilitation which must not waiver in its constancy and regularity. Brochures and videos appropriate for the painful joint will be a useful complement to the learning sessions undertaken with the physical therapist.

There is only one circumstance that requires taking it easy: a painful and inflammatory osteoarthritis flare-up. Rehabilitation will only make it worse. The attending physician must therefore be informed, rest the joint and follow the doctor’s instructions.

Apart from painful flare-ups, contraindications to rehabilitation are exceptional (old age, failing general condition, severe osteoarthritis lesions, etc.).


References :

A quoi sert la rééducation dans l’arthrose (Pr François Rannou)

La rééducation soulage la douleur – Arthrolink Website


Arthrolink Editorial Commitee