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I Just Got Diagnosed With Osteoarthritis/Degenerative Joint Disease...What Do I Do? A Quick Guide

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

You just were diagnosed by your doctor or orthopedic with osteoarthritis (OA) or degenerative joint disease (DJD). What now?

Here at CustomFit, we take pride in individualizing our patient care so that you are able to address your diagnosis with a plan that fits your problem specifically and offer a custom solution. But before we get to that, we like to spend time educating and empowering our patients so that they may make informed decisions about their healthcare.

There's lots of information out there about these diagnoses, and it can be hard to sift through on your own. That's why we decided to create our quick guide below to provide answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive from our clients with these diagnoses.

If you’re looking for more answers or you'd like to discuss your situation with a Doctor of Physical Therapy, give CustomFit a call! We offer complimentary phone consultations to help you determine what your next best steps will be. Call us today at 312-619-3556 or email

What causes OA/DJD?

  • Common change found at weight bearing joints

  • Breakdown of joint cartilage over time and may be due to overuse, poor joint alignment, increased stress due to obesity, and genetic disposition.

  • When cartilage is broken down and lost, the space between the bones gets smaller and new abnormal bone can form as the bones rub together.

What puts a person at risk for this?

  • OA is linked with aging and can happen at otherwise healthy joints.

  • OA can also occur after an injury to the joint that has damaged cartlige.

  • Risk factors include: older age, obesity, being female, injury to the joint, repetitive micro-trauma, genetics, and being diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis like RA.

What are the common symptoms?

  • Commonly affected joints include: fingers, knees, hips, and spine.

  • Decreased motion at the affected joint.

  • You may hear clicking or crunching at the joint when you move it.

  • Pain and decreased ability to perform daily tasks.

  • You may notice that muscles surrounding the joint have gotten smaller and more stiff.

What can I do at home?

  • Perform safe forms of strengthening, stretching, and endurance exercises.

  • Consider use of a cane or supportive device to decrease joint stress

  • Modify your activities based on the therapist’s advice.

How can physical therapy help?

  • Can help reduce pain, improve strength & flexibility, and delay joint replacement surgery.

  • Can help improve your independence and help you perform daily activities.

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