Ian McLean, orthopaedic surgeon at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, explained that pain in the joints is “a wake up call from your ageing alarm clock”.
But the good news, he added, is that its never too late to improve your condition.
The clear evidence of just how beneficial the right diet and exercise can be came from a pilot programme called ‘Best in Class’, which ran for a year in Clackmannanshire aimed to help people to help themselves.
Developed before the pandemic started, it helped people get physio treatment by introducing a physiotherapist joint pain adviser who worked in GP practices in Clackmannanshire.
Patients were given arthritis education and also encouraged to attend the hip and knee classes.
Kenny Cook, active communities officer in Clackmannanshire, said that anyone with knee or hip pain who was worried that exercise would make things worse, that wasn’t the case.
He said: “Some people with knee or hip pain think that exercise won’t help the pain but it can help the muscles in the joint area round about the knee or the hip, which can reduce the pain and improve their overall health and flexibility.”
“It can have other benefits too – it can help with blood pressure and weight loss too.”
The results were even more impressive than had been anticipated and now, as the health service begins to emerge from the pandemic, the programme will start to be rolled out.
That ties in perfectly with last week’s announcement that Forth Valley Royal Hospital is to get a new ward that will concentrate almost exclusively on knee and hip replacements. And it will be vital that patients are given as much support as possible to prepare for surgery, both physically and mentally, programme director Gillian Morton explained.
She said: “There has been a lot of investment and time with the clinical teams round about how we make people as fit as we can before they actually come in before the surgery.”
That’s important for many reasons: not only can surgery be delayed if people are over weight, being fitter can really aid recovery from surgery.
NHS Forth Valley’s chief executive, Cathie Cowan, said they had been surprised by just how successful the pilot had been. She said: “In actual fact, with that support saw a number of people who had planned surgery not needing surgery or it slowed down the need for surgery.”
Advance practice physiotherapists are now in more than half of GP practices in Forth Valley.
The exercise classes are being offered by Active Forth at Grangemouth Sports Centre, 4.30-5.15pm. To find out more call Active Forth on 01324 504568.