Arthritis may be divided into two types – degenerative and inflammatory.
Degenerative or osteoarthritis is the common form of arthritis and it is usually associated with the joints wear and tear over a period of time. Osteoarthritis is more common among women and people aged over 45. It’s a major cause of disability and reduction in quality of life in Australia. Typical locations of osteoarthritis are the hips, knees, spine and hands. The symptoms may include pain, stiffness, restricted mobility, swelling and even creaking sounds called crepitus. The so called wear and tear relates to the cartilage that protects the bony surfaces. The cartilage becomes brittle and breaks down. The bone underneath makes up for this by thickening and growing outwards, creating outgrowths (osteophytes). These can make your joint appear knobbly. The capsule around the joint also thickens and becomes inflamed.
Inflammatory arthritis such as Rheumatoid Arthritis is a autoimmune disease where the white blood cells and antibody proteins that usually fight infections attack your joints instead. This causes inflammation, where you may experience heat, swelling and tenderness in the affected joint. Other symptoms may include severe pain, stiffness, deformity, weak muscles, persistent fatigue.
Eventually the inflammation may lead to thinning of the cartilage and may cause the bone to be worn away. Rheumatoid arthritis may also cause inflammation of the sheaths around your tendons. It can affect other parts of your body, such as your lungs, but this is rare. Rheumatoid arthritis usually starts in middle life, with onset generally occurring between the ages of 35 to 64. It affects around one per cent of Australia’s population.
Osteopathy treatment has a large part to play in the overall management of arthritis. Osteopathy for people with arthritis is aimed to:
- Provide immediate relief from symptoms
- Reduce pain and swelling
- Promote range of joint movement
- Improve mobility
- Assist in rehabilitation after surgery such as hip replacement
- Educate on how you can improve your quality of life through diet and nutritional support, posture, and exercise
Treatment is not painful and often symptom relief begins immediately. Treatments may include:
Mobilisation and manipulation techniques are passive movements applied to a joint or soft tissue by the Osteopath in a specific manner to help restore full movement to a joint that is painful and restricted. Manual therapy is often useful in the chronic forms of arthritis and is often successful when other methods such as heat and exercises have given little or no relief.
Exercise A balanced program of rest and exercise, and careful attention to joint posture is an important part of pain management, joint protection and maintenance of your joint function. Controlled exercise helps lessen pain and stiffness and improves the strength of muscles and ligaments, so helping to stabilise joints. Exercise in warm water or salt baths may also be recommended.
Self-Management Individuals who participate in self-management programs notice decrease in joint pain and frequency of arthritis-related doctors’ visits, increases in physical activity and overall improvement in quality of life. You will be given positive advice related to your lifestyle and about how you use your body. You may also be given advice about your diet, which in some people may be a factor in their arthritis.
For more information about how Osteopathy can help with arthritis please contact us on 9510 1722