As Osteopaths we spend a vast amount of time dealing with pain and suffering caused by arthritis. Many people mistakenly assume that they must learn to live with their symptoms. In many cases, Osteopaths are able to help considerably. Pain relief and lifestyle management improve the quality of life for arthritis sufferers. With Arthritis Awareness Week 17 – 23 March, we look at how Osteopathy can help Arthritis.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis can been divided into two types – degenerative and inflammatory. Degenerative arthritis or osteoarthritis, is very common and is often referred to as general ‘wear and tear’. It is usually experienced in the neck, low back, fingers, hips and knees. Typical symptoms include joint swelling, pain and stiffness.
Inflammatory arthritis, such as Rheumatoid arthritis, is far less common but can affect people at a younger age and the symptoms are usually more severe. These types are more systemic and affect the whole body.
Osteoarthritis is a very mis-understood condition. Many people believe that it cannot affect you until you are much older. The truth is that ‘wear and tear’ can affect your joints as early as your late 20s. Factors such as a poor posture, bad lifting technique, lack of exercise and an accumulation of old injuries can predispose to early osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of Arthritis
Arthritis may be hereditary but is generally caused by poor posture, heavy manual work and previous injury. Osteopathy is an effective way to manage arthritis and the associated symptoms:
- Neck Pain
- Low back pain
- Hip/Knee Pain
- Early morning stiffness
- Joint Pain
- Swelling and Inflamation
- Referred muscle pain
- Lack of mobility
How can Osteopathy help?
There is no cure for arthritis however osteopathic treatment can do a great deal to reduce pain, ease swelling and improve mobility and range of joint movement. Management focuses on eliminating symptoms through early diagnosis and improving lifestyle to prevent further degeneration.
Osteopathic treatment involves gentle manual osteopathic techniques on joints, muscles and ligaments. This may involve gentle stretching, mobility, and traction techniques. Exercises to do at home may also be prescribed to improve joint function and to reduce muscle spasm. Exercise in warm water or salt baths may also be recommended.