What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a painful degenerative condition that commonly affects weight-bearing joints such as the hips and knees. It can be especially debilitating for runners. The bones in our joints are protected by a smooth cartilage lining which absorbs shock and allow friction-free gliding of the joints during normal movement. Damage occurs to this cartilage, eventually causing 'wear and tear', until the bony joint surfaces are left exposed. Painful bony growths can develop as the body tries to protect the damaged joints.
What causes osteoarthritis?
Cartilage is able to withstand large compressive forces, however as we age (above about 30 years) it loses some of its hydration and with it, its ability to withstand shock forces, resulting in damage. Other causes of osteoarthritis in runners include:
- Abnormal postures or running mechanics
- Previous injury to joints
- Poor choice of footwear
- Rapid increases in training loads/distances/frequency
Symptoms of osteoarthritis?
Pain and reduced movement are the major symptoms of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can also manifest with several of the following symptoms:
- Stiffness early in the morning and at night, or at the onset of exercise
- Crepitus (clicking/grinding noises)
Biomechanical assessment for causes of osteoarthritis in runners
Postural abnormalities or altered running mechanics can result in abnormal peak pressures being applied to joint cartilage, causing damage to the joint cartilage. Biomechanical abnormalities can result from factors such as muscle imbalance and poor technique. Common biomechanical abnormalities that may lead to osteoarthritis in runners include:
- Excessive/insufficient spinal curvature
- Posteriorly/anteriorly tilted pelvis
- Poor hip muscle control during running
- Knee valgus/varus postures (inward/outward bending of the knees)
- Fallen arches/overpronation (inward rolling) of the feet
To arrange a biomechanical running assessment with one of the specialist physiotherapists, please call Physio.co.uk on 0330 088 7800 today. You can also book appointments online using our online booking system