Generally we think of arthritis as being something we get as we age and yes to some degree this is true, the most common form of arthritis to occur as we age is osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the disease process that damages large joints such as hips and knees but can also occur in smaller joints in our hands such as the thumb or fingers. It is often described as “wear and tear” to the joints. Typically it is characterised by pain and swelling in the joints some of which will improve with a bit of movement but worsen with too much activity. It is this kind of arthritis that will often lead to hip or knee replacement surgeries. Age is certainly a factor in developing osteoarthritis but there are many more factors such as diet, activity levels and genetics which are not fully understood yet.
Other types of arthritis also damage the joint but are not purely related to age. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect anybody at any age, including children, and is characterised but hot swollen painful joints more commonly the small joints of the hands and feet as well as the neck. As the disease progresses it can cause the deformation of the joints, particularly in the hand and as such his characterised by having swollen crooked fingers. This type of arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis due to an autoimmune reaction which means the body fails to recognise its own tissues and starts to destroy the joint. Similarly psoriatic arthritis is also another form of inflammatory auto immune arthritis commonly associated with psoriasis.
How can Osteopathy help?
There is no cure for arthritis and you cannot reverse the damage that has already occurred to the joint surface. You can however try to slow the process by taking supplements such as cod liver oil which is high in elements needed for good joint health. The inflammatory forms of arthritis may also benefit from periodically taking immuno-suppressant drugs such as corticosteroids. If you are suffering pain from arthritis there are a number of things you can do to try and manage your pain such as appropriate pain relief and exercise.
Living with arthritis doesn’t have to be a sentence of pain and restricted movement there are many things that can be done to help improve your quality of life. Osteopathy can help to reduce the pain associated with arthritis by helping to reduce the spasm in muscles surrounding the affected joints as well as helping to keep joints moving and advising on appropriate stretches and exercises you can do at home