Arthritis is a common condition causing nerve pain, stiffness and inflammation in joints. There are around 10 million people with arthritis in the UK, from children to older adults, each affected uniquely. Equally, arthritis might not just affect the person with it but also their family, friends and carers. There is one thing for sure; arthritis should not stop you doing the things you enjoy. It is our job to assess everybody as an individual and offer the most appropriate treatment based on their needs.
How and why Arthritis causes pain and stiffness
Arthritis includes an entire family of painful conditions. For some it might take the form of gout in the toe joint: in others, it can due to a bacterial joint infection. There are over 200 types of arthritis but the majority of arthritis suffers from one or two agonizing conditions.
Osteoarthritis – This is a degenerative condition that normally affects people over the age of 50 but can also affect younger people as a result of injury or condition affecting the joints. There are guidelines on ChiroEco.com advising people with this type of arthritis about their condition and how to treat it. They explain how the smooth cartilage that lines the joint thins and roughens, the bone thickens and the tissues in the joint become more active. Consequently, the joint doesn’t move as smoothly as it should. Bony spurs called osteophytes can form and the inner layer of the joint capsule called the synovium can thicken and make extra fluid, hence the reason you may have swelling. The capsule and ligaments also thicken in its attempt to make the joint more stable. When OA is severe, the cartilage can thin to a level where your bones rub together and wear away. This can change the shape of your joints and push the bones out of their normal position. This can then affect other parts of the body.
Rheumatoid Arthritis –This kind of arthritis often starts between the ages of 40-70, more likely to affect women than men. It is an autoimmune disease, whereby the body’s immune system attacks the cells that line your joints. This makes them stiff, swollen and painful and over time can damage the cartilage and bone. There is no known cure but again the symptoms can be managed well.
How can physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapy can help to manage your arthritis by minimising pain, increasing strength and restoring movement and function. We look at your alignment, posture, your strength and the way you walk to provide a personalised treatment programme to resolve specific problems. We don’t just look at the body but we take a holistic approach and consider your lifestyle to allow you to do the things you enjoy and make the things you struggle with easier. Treatments might include soft tissue release, acupuncture, a personalised exercise/strengthening programme and postural awareness.
Many arthritis suffers turn to medication in the hope that it will ease their symptoms. NSAID’s and steroids may produce some relief, but only temporarily. These drugs can not address the physical problems that actually cause your symptoms.
Don’t just numb your arthritis pain – manage it a smart, safe and effective way. Contact your local physiotherapy clinic today!