At Caring Osteopathy I treat arthritis with osteopathy, acupuncture and soft tissue massage. Exercise and lifestyle advice is included as movement is key to managing the symptoms of arthritis and helps towards overall well-being. Walking and weight-bearing support joint function and maintain strength in the muscles that cross and support joints.
Treatment cannot cure arthritis, but may ease stiffness and help keep your joints moving. It involves gentle passive articulation of the joints and stretching of related muscles, this is undertaken in consideration of joint shape and function and so might be beneficial for you. By viewing the whole body and supporting movement in joints less affected, treatment can assist the joints causing pain, stiffness and swelling.
Arriving at an approach appropriate for you is important. As is timing treatments and their frequency. Treatment during flare-ups in someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis, for example, is less helpful, so planning and adapting the type of treatment is also important.
Joanna works every day with people with arthritis and osteopaths are trained to carry-out orthopaedic and osteopathic tests helpful in advising you about your condition. If you have further concerns, visit your GP to discuss your condition and determine if there is a need for more investigation or medication.
A joint is formed where two or more bones move against each other and are supported by soft tissue structures, such as ligaments (these act like elastic bands to keep the bones in place). Cartilage covers the surface of the end of each bone in the joint to smooth their movement and muscles and tendons provide further support. The term for joint or ‘Arthron’ is derived from Greek and ‘-itis’ describes its inflammation. More simply, arthritis is joint disease and causes pain, swelling, stiffness and restricted movement.
Arthritis involves both degenerative and inflammatory types. There are nine common forms of Arthritis among 100 with their own related conditions, they are: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid, Gout, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Lupus arthritis, Infectious, Juvenile and Psoriatic and Fibromyalgia. Sixty-two are listed alphabetically here with further explanations. In Britain, it is estimated 10 million people are affected and the commonest forms are Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Gout.
In Osteoarthritis the cartilage surface at the end of each bone undergoes ‘wear and tear’ and degenerates. It breaks down, releases inflammatories and this causes stiffness, especially where the joint has been subject to overuse, insult or injury. Typically, occurring in the hips, knees, shoulders and spine. The hip joint becomes flexed, loses joint space where the cartilage has eroded and how the fingers and hands change. It is a normal process that progresses as we get older, although younger people may also be affected. Many people experience no symptoms despite considerable ‘wear and repair’ taking place and this is only identified when an X-Ray is taken.
In Rheumatoid and Psoriatic arthritis, the immune system attacks the body causing widespread inflammation, resulting in joint erosion and damage to other parts of the body, such as the eyes or internal organs. Gout is painful and debilitating and each caused by the deposition of uric/urate crystals within the joints of toes, fingers and ankles.
The pattern in each type of arthritis is not the same in every person. It depends on your lifestyle, health history and genes so that conditions manifest in different ways. There are phases and episodic patterns characteristic to each type of arthritis and specific medication.
For more information about symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options and prevention for these conditions see below.
For further information about Arthritis:
Arthritis Action provides an invaluable resource of information and guidance. Much is available free at their website, including exercises, dietry advice, factsheets, events and webinars.
There is also an option for membership of the charity. They provide a self-management approach with personalized support, offer funding towards treatments with nominated practitioners and access to a forum and opportunity to join local support groups. They look to wider issues such as caring for people with arthritis and mental health issues that long-term sufferers need support for. You can find more about their approach here.
Importantly, they carry-out funded research through universities to determine best diet and nutrition for arthritis and carry-out surveys to understand the impact of arthritis and offer and develop evidence-based services. Research initiatives and findings are detailed here.