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 brittle.
The damage to the cartilage starts a chain reaction involving all parts of the joint. The water tight capsule around the joint becomes thickened and less elastic producing stiffness. The inner lining of the joints, tendons and ligaments become inflamed resulting in swelling, heat, redness and pain after activity. As osteoarthritis advances bony spurs or outgrowths may form around the edges of the joint making the joint appear enlarged. Even the muscles around the joint lose strength due to under-use because of pain.
What causes Osteoarthritis?
Like any machine, a joint that is damaged and unbalanced wears out faster. People who consistently put heavy stress on the same joint are more likely to develop osteoarthritis, such as footballer’s hips and knees. On the other hand, lack of use of a particular joint does not allow it to be lubricated and repaired also leading to osteoarthritis. Other factors that may increase the chance of osteoarthritis are being overweight, genetics, previous trauma and fracture which can alter the joints movement.
Here are some steps to help manage your symptoms:
• Walk at least 15 minutes a day to maintain muscle tone, lose weight and improve circulation.
• Take regular breaks whilst doing DIY, house work and gardening.
• A balanced diet can help to obtain essential vitamins and minerals needed for healthy muscles and joints.
• Gentle stretching daily to help maintain tissue elasticity and maintain joint mobility.
• Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate have been shown to improve joint health and reduce the symptoms experienced with osteoarthritis.
How can Osteopathy help?
As an osteopath, we will take a full case history so we can understand how the arthritis has developed. Although the process that has occurred cannot be reversed symptoms can be improved. After a full examination and assessment, we will be able to offer treatment and advice to help improve mobility, circulation and function, and reduce joint pain and stiffness.
Treatment is usually gentle and aims to maintain health and reduce further damage. A combination of massage, muscle stretching and joint articulation may be used. Along with advice on diet, lifestyle changes, footwear, insoles and bespoke exercises.
Bedworth Active Health Clinic welcomes you...
Whether you have chronic niggles, aches or muscle and joint pain due to work-related strain, sports injuries, or postural problems; you are suffering acute problems due to an accident, whiplash, pregnancy, a slipped disc or trapped nerve; or you suffer with other symptoms such as headaches or general stiffness, the team at The Bedworth Active Health Centre for osteopathy and sports injuries can help.