Joint Pain and Osteoarthritis

Joint Pain and Osteoarthritis

Joint Pain and Osteoarthritis After the lovely summer weather we have had, we will really notice the cooler and damp weather which often reflects in an increase in the number of patients attending the clinic with joint aches and pains. The most common cause of these symptoms is osteoarthritis. In fact, more than 75 percent of people older than fifty-five show the joint changes of osteoarthritis somewhere in their body but not all will experience symptoms. As you near the age of retirement the opportunity for pursuing leisure activities, travel, enjoying family and other interest’s increases. Therefore staying fit and active is essential. The body, however has changed, it will have lost some of its elasticity and ability to adapt. It will have experienced injuries and postural stress over the years resulting in stiffness and degenerative change. What is Osteoarthritis? Osteoarthritis is most common in the hip, knee, spine (spondylitis), ankle, feet and small joints of the hand. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, crepitus or cracking joints and joint enlargement/swelling which may be experienced in more than one area. In these joints the cartilage protects the end of the bones where they meet and provides a smooth, frictionless surface to allow movement. Each joint is surrounded by ligaments and a capsule which holds bone to bone and keeps the lubricating fluid inside the joint. Osteoarthritis is a wearing of the cartilage surface away from the contacting bony surfaces similar to break pads on a car. Unlike break pads, during the early stages of osteoarthritis the body has the ability to repair the cartilage. The new cartilage is thicker but more...
Back Pain

Back Pain

Back Pain Understanding back pain So called mechanical back pain is the most common reason that between 3-4 million people in the UK every year seek advice and treatment from Registered Osteopaths. Mechanical back pain can vary from an occasional mild ache to constant severe pain. Remember: Osteopaths are skilled in all areas of diagnosis and use many of the same testing procedures as in conventional medicine. You do not need a referral from your GP to see an Osteopath. Why is my back stiff? Consider the anatomy…. Discs are structures that act to separate vertebrae, absorb shocks and when functioning properly, permit amazing flexibility and fluid movement of the spine. Discs rely on full spinal movement to ‘suck- in’ nutrients thus with excessive standing or sitting, particularly at the base of the spine, discs become flattened and brittle. The normal movement of the spine becomes less and the corresponding muscles and vertebrae above and below the disc ‘sluggish’. As Osteopaths we can feel this restriction in spinal movement, often well before it causes any symptoms. Do I need an x-ray? In many cases of mechanical back pain, if we were to have an x-ray or scan of the back taken, aside from ‘no abnormalities detected’ the other usual diagnosis from the radiographers report almost invariably confirms “wear and tear, consistent with patient age.” Where we need to visualise the spine, we have access to private MRI scanning facilities at the cheapest rates in the UK for our private patients. However unless we suspect any other cause of the back pain, most patients do not require x-ray/MRI referral. As...
Osteopathy during pregnancy

Osteopathy during pregnancy

Osteopathy during pregnancy Pregnancy Pain During pregnancy it produces the largest postural change that a woman’s body will undergo. For many years, Osteopaths have used their skills to help relieve pregnancy pain and the aches and pains caused by weight and posture changes during and after pregnancy. Labour and pregnancy are completely natural events but sometimes due to a variety of mechanical and physical complications, it can be more painful than they should be.  For many women pregnancy can mean having to cope with a whole range of symptoms from back pain to morning sickness. Changes during Pregnancy As the baby grows in the womb its extra weight results in a changed centre of gravity, which causes the spinal curves to become more exaggerated resulting in posture changes from week to week. This can place strain on muscles, ligaments and joints throughout the spine and pelvis, leading to a variety of aches and pains in the lower back, groin and legs. As breast weight increases, this also causes changes to the upper spinal curves increasing stress and pain in the upper back and neck. Hormonal factors can also play a part in the mechanical changes of the body. Relaxin, a hormone secreted during pregnancy has a loosening affect on the ligaments, especially around the pelvis. The pelvis and abdomen is the most obvious area of change during pregnancy as the baby grows and the pelvis changes shape to prepare for labour. The change of shape and with the loosening of the ligaments can leave the pelvic joints (sacro-iliac joints, pubic symphasis) more vulnerable to injury and pain. What can...
Stress

Stress

Stress At this time we may all be exposed to increased levels of stress. The credit crunch, instability at work, financial worries, family and relationship problems are all good examples of what causes stress in our society. As Christmas approaches the pressure to earn the pennies increases, shift patterns change; working hours are longer and stress increases. With all the best intention in the world, good healthy habits can go out of the window, making it difficult to achieve the Work-Rest Balance. STRESS CAN BE DEFINED AS ANY DISTURBANCE TO THE BODY Stress and how it affects the body The bodies’ initial response to any stressful event, such as a meeting or presentation, is the ‘fight or flight’ mode, brought on by the release of Adrenalin. This causes a state of heightened alertness lasting for an hour or two. If repeated stressful events occur without much rest or sleep in between, the body then produces the primary stress hormone Cortisol. Cortisol has a positive effect on short term stress enabling us to become focussed, motivated and more effective, however over a longer period it can cause problems with our general health. Cortisol can raise our blood pressure and blood sugar levels, increase thyroid function and suppress digestive function; increasing the risk of diabetes and stomach ulcers. It also reduces the bodies’ ability to heal by suppressing the inflammatory response and the immune system making it difficult for the body to tackle even the common cold. Long term Cortisol release also causes muscle wasting and when associated with poor posture and nutrition can lead to aches and pains. Stress &...
Do you have FROZEN SHOULDER?

Do you have FROZEN SHOULDER?

Do you have FROZEN SHOULDER? The pain and stiffness of frozen shoulder can affect up to 1 in 50 people a year in the UK and is one of the most common shoulder problems. It can make daily tasks such as dressing and driving very difficult and sleeping can become disturbed. Many people don’t realise they have a frozen shoulder and put up with the pain and stiffness instead of seeking treatment and advice. The shoulder joint (Glenohumeral joint) is comprised of the upper spherical end of the humerus sitting in the shallow socket of the shoulder blade (scapular) creating an unstable ball and socket joint. The joint relies on the support of the flexible, soft tissues around the joint to hold it in place, such as the ligaments, tendons, muscles and capsule. The capsule is a thin layer of ligamentous tissue which surrounds the shoulder joint.   What Happens? It is the capsule comprising both ligaments and tendons which first inflame, (swells) thicken and contract in frozen shoulder. There are classically 3 stages to frozen shoulder. Freezing painful stage – it will first become painful and then start to stiffen. Typically the pain will be worse at night lying on that side and mobility will gradually decrease. Frozen stage – the pain eases but limitation in shoulder movement is still marked, especially rotatory movements such as brushing hair, putting your arm in a sleeve or fastening bra strap. There is often muscle wasting due to lack of use. Thawing recovering stage – gradually the stiffness and limitation may improve to normal. Why does it happen? Frozen shoulder is...
PLANTAR FASCIITIS – Heel Pain

PLANTAR FASCIITIS – Heel Pain

PLANTAR FASCIITIS – Heel Pain Feet are an area of the body that some of us neglect and forget until they start to hurt. Considering the fact that the foot is the main point of contact to the ground and the many miles we must walk in a life time, they are an area that we should look after. In our Osteopathic surgery we see all sorts of different types of feet and we often assess a patient’s foot even if the problem is somewhere else as the way the foot contacts the ground when walking can have profound affects elsewhere in the body. The planter fascia is a tight band that stretches across the bottom of the foot from the heel to the base of the toes, connecting the two ends of the arch of the foot. When we walk it acts like the string of a bow, so when it is stretched in the mid-stance of walking it then recoils to provide propulsion at toe off. All the bones along with the ligaments that hold them together and the muscles that move and support them form a complex structure allowing us to deal with the different activities and surfaces we encounter. In fact the foot was designed to deal with surfaces such as mud and sand, not the hard man-made surfaces we walk on today. Therefore we have to wear some form of protective covering on our feet to absorb shock. It is these hard surfaces and incorrect footwear that could be blamed for causing various types of foot pain. Plantar fasciitis is becoming a more common...