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.
In addition to arthritic pain, our older patients often report increasing difficulty with day-to-day activities such as getting out of bed in the morning, getting dressed, putting socks on, sitting down on the loo and standing in the kitchen. All of these tasks require good muscle strength, balance and confidence. At Woburn Osteopaths, we understand the frustrations associated with these new struggles and aim to help our older patients to achieve these activities.
Falls are common in older people. In addition to the injuries sustained in a fall, it can also be very damaging to an elderly person’s confidence. Re-building strength after a fall is very important and we explain carefully how to perform some simple strength and balance exercises to help our patients to get back to normal function after an accident.
Our osteopaths work to restore the body to a state of balance, where possible without the use of drugs or surgery. We can help by improving movement, easing stiffness and loosening muscles, all helping the body in its ability to compensate for the changes.
We use gentle touch, physical manipulation, stretching and massage to increase the mobility of joints, to relieve muscle tension, to enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues and to help the body’s own healing mechanisms.
Osteopathy is tailored to the needs of the individual. As such for older tissues with less collagen and elastic fibres, the soft tissue techniques that we use are gentler. They aim to improve circulation rather than forcibly break down fibrous muscle knots.
We may also provide advice on posture and exercise to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring.