Arthritis is a common condition causing pain, inflammation or swelling and stiffness in the joints of the body. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two best-known examples, but other arthritic conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis and gout are also common.
Osteoarthritis is a result of wear and tear of the joints in the body. It is familiar to people over 50 and most commonly affects the joints of the knees, hips, neck and back, base of the toes and hands.
Patients suffering with arthritis are habitually despondent, feeling like little or nothing can be done to help with their symptoms. A pattern of taking repeated doses of painkillers or anti-inflammatories with reduced effect and doing a lesser amount of enjoyable activities frequently emerges. Patients start to avoid using the affected joint, leading to overuse of other parts of the body and extra stress on them.
Osteopathy works to improve the movement in arthritic joints so that less pain medication is required. With improved use and efficiency of the joint, arthritic pain automatically diminishes. As a patient’s confidence increases and the use of medication reduces, side effects such as stomach ulcers and constipation can also be avoided.
NICE guidelines (current government advice) advocate the use of manipulation and exercise for most types of arthritis to keep the joint functioning normally. Osteopathic treatment for arthritis can relieve pain by improving stiffness, eliminating muscle spasm, reducing swelling, restoring joint mobility and offloading additional stress on other joints to prevent further damage.
X-rays, scans or other tests may be required and osteopaths may refer a patient to their GP for additional investigations.