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The athletic therapy approach to treating osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis knee pain
Cayla Galarneau

Cayla Galarneau

As a competitive athlete and outdoor enthusiast, Cayla Galarneau decided she wanted to play an active role in helping people achieve an injury-free lifestyle to pursue their adventures without limitations. Cayla completed her Bachelor of Kinesiology from the University of Calgary with an Advanced Certificate in Athletic Therapy from Mount Royal University and became an Athletic Therapist in 2010. While at U of C, Cayla supported the wrestling athletes preparing for nationals, Olympic trials and won ACAC championship working with the women’s hockey team. Now a member of the Acumen Sports and Shoulder Clinic, Cayla treats the SI joint, Knees, and shoulders. She undewent ACL reconstruction last June and uses her experience to relate to patients.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and it affects many people. It can be defined as the deterioration of the protective cartilage in between the bones, and the most common areas it affects are the hip and knee, although it can affect any area of the body as well. Patients who experience osteoarthritis may experience stiffness, soreness, decreased function and more.

Exercise plays a significant role in pain management and rehabilitation for many injuries, especially osteoarthritis. Evidence has shown that exercise is favourable for management of osteoarthritis regardless of pain, function level, or the severity. More importantly, general exercise has been associated with less side effects when compared to drug treatments, and does not produce or exacerbate joint symptoms when incorporated appropriately and regularly. Exercise not only aids with pain management and slows the progression of osteoarthritis, but it also provides a variety of positive outcomes such as improved physical function, quality of life, psychological variables, improved sleep and much more.

Movement is necessary, that is what we are created to do! With osteoarthritis there can be a decrease in hip and knee range of motion due to pain limitations. For example, knee osteoarthritis can often be seen when a patient is standing as they will have a lack of knee extension. When working with an athletic therapist, the treatment focus starts with restoring that range of motion. With proper integration of exercises, we can help you regain mobility. The next focus is on improving strength. Building up strength in the surrounding musculature can help alleviate pain, improve stability and increase your function. There is also an important role in improving balance as an injury prevention method.

Utilizing properly integrated exercise is a safe and low-risk means of therapy. The main goal for an athletic therapist is to help you navigate your own recovery journey, teach you tools that will improve overall function and get you back to the normal activities of daily living. Once you learn to use exercise as a tool, our intent is for you to find ease in completing tasks such as going up and down stairs, lifting household items, walking and standing. Being able to complete tasks like these, pain-free, will help you build confidence and keep you progressing on achieving your goals and building up your physical activity.

If you have osteoarthritis and want to improve your mobility, find an athletic therapist near you today!

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