What does this conjure up for you? Ending up in a wheelchair? Crumbling bones? Loss of mobility. pain and disability……….
There are several different types of arthritis and I will explain a little about the most common ones.
Arthritis can be genetic (your genotype), but REMEMBER that how your genes manifest (your phenotype) is very varied. What will affect what happens to you?
Your diet, weight, exercise regime, stress levels, mental health all the usual suspects.
Lets start with the good news.
1. Rarely does Arthritis have a wheelchair as a consequence.
2. Your bones will not crumble.
Now I am not going to lie arthritis can contribute to pain and stiffness, but it’s not a done deal. Some days will be worse than others and many different things can affect arthritis, annoyingly it’s not always clear what has made things worse.
When you have a bad day, don’t waste too much time on trying to work out why, unless it’s something really obvious like you chopped down a tree or climbed Everest.
When you have a bad day consider what you need to do.
I would suggest that you keep moving gently, go for a walk or swim. Soak in the bath, keep warm, take pain relief if you need it. So many people won’t take anything, I do understand that, but equally don’t suffer too much when help is at hand.
Massage the afflicted area, stretch the muscles around the joints affected. Do something that makes your heart lift it will help you cope with the pain.
‘itis’ means inflammation.
Arth = Joints.
Osteo = Bones.
Incidentally Osteopathy means ‘it starts with the bones’ we treat bones, ligaments, joints and muscles. Well, we treat people who are made up of these elements. I digress…
Osteoarthritis: 8.75 million people in the UK have seen a doctor about arthritis. Women are more commonly affected than men; It is the most common form of arthritis. The most commonly affected areas are the knees, hips, hands and spine. The ends of your bones are covered in cartilage, as we get older this gets roughened; the body tries to repair this damage. This can cause the fluid in the joint to increase and become thicker, which may stretch the capsule around the joint. This may cause a bit of instability in the joints, you may feel grating in the joints or hear more clicking. There may be some swelling or redness around the joints.
Hot and cold compresses may help the pain, massaging with anti inflammatory creams. Note don’t take anti inflammatory drugs and use anti inflammatory cream at the same time, you may overdose on them! Keeping active and watching your weight are all important. If you find you cannot manage the pain you may need to seek some help.
Is an auto immune condition where the body attacks the joints. Usually the knees, some finger joints and ankles. It can run in families.
The inflammation in the joints creates extra fluid which stretches the joint capsule and will make the joint unstable. It can also irritate the joint and make it painful and hot.
As well as causing pain and stiffness, inflammation can cause permanent damage to a joint. Early diagnosis is important so that treatment can be started quickly. Clients may find that gentle water based exercise may helps will keeping weight under control and eating a healthy diet.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of spondyloarthritis and it causes pain and swelling, mainly around the joints of the spine.
With A.S the body responds to inflammation by laying down calcium in the ligaments of the spine, it used to be called bamboo spine.
This will cause pain and stiffness and difficulty in movement. It is a rare condition and tends to affect men more than women.
Medication can help and keeping active is really important this helps the spine to maintain a good posture and stop the tendency to develop an increased curvature in the spine.
I have seen dissections of A.S and it looks as if candle wax has been spilt down the front of the spine. I have also seen clients with the condition and their abnormal pattern of spinal movements is a very good clue to what is happening. Diagnosis is by X-ray/scan and blood tests. Although the condition cannot be stopped, it will burn out eventually and treatment and exercise are beneficial for pain relief.
Spondylo =relating to the spine.
This related to a number of things that will cause swelling and pain around the joints of the spine. The connective tissue called entheses get inflamed and can cause pain and stiffness.
A lot of people will have this, it can be age related, or as a consequence of an injury. The whole spine maybe affected or certain areas. The pain may not be constant; it may come after a burst of activity or perhaps after a very long sit. Cold weather and stress may aggravate the problem.
As ever, gentle, regular activity and stretching will ease the stiffness and also ‘oil’ the joints a little.
Spondylo-arthritis responds really well to osteopathic treatment. Contrary to popular belief we don’t throw you around the room. Treatment is tailored to each client making it suitable for any age group.