Conditions & Advice: Arthritis
Arthritis means ‘inflammation’ of a joint or several joints. There are many different sorts of arthritis.
The most common is osteoarthritis which many people experience as they get older. It is the technical term for wear and tear. As we age our joints lose some of their ability to keep well lubricated and as a result the cartilage and bone begin to thin and wear. Over time this causes stiffness and, sometimes, pain. Starting to move after a period of rest can be troublesome, but too much activity can also bring on discomfort. The joints can become enlarged or knobbly and the muscles around the area can ache or waste, as well. This can make exercise difficult.
Weight bearing joints like hips, knees and low backs are prone to osteoarthritis, but so are those that have been used a lot, like fingers, thumbs and shoulders. Any joint that has been injured is more likely to develop osteoarthritis. Some people feel that their arthritis is affected by the weather; damp is often particularly disliked and it would appear that those of us living in northern Europe are more prone to osteoarthritis than our Mediterranean cousins.
Rheumatoid Arthritis & Gout
Other sorts of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis and gout. One or several joints are often hot, red, painful and swollen. These types of arthritis are usually accompanied by other disturbances to one’s health like digestive problems, tiredness or a feeling of being unwell. If this applies to you it is important you seek medical advice, via your GP initially.
Osteoarthritis is so common as to go almost unnoticed in the early stages. We tell ourselves that stiffness and pain are just part of aging and that nothing can be done, until the joint replacement operation looms. This is not the case: much can be done to improve comfort and mobility, even if the underlying process can’t be taken away.
Change your Diet
Some changes to diet can be beneficial. Citrus fruit and other acidic foods can aggravate osteoarthritis and it is better to avoid very rich food. The Mediterranean diet is often seen as helpful – fruit, vegetables and fish forming the basis. Fish oil supplements, linseed or flaxseed oils have long been felt to ease joint pain. Recently glucosamine with chondroitin has been used as a supplement to ‘reverse’ arthritis and control pain. Whilst the research evidence is not conclusive, it appears that glucosamine sulphate does reduce pain and have an impact on the wear and tear process.
Keeping yourself mobile is hugely important. The old adage of ‘Use it or Lose it’ is spot on, with the caveat ’But, don’t abuse it’. Exercise should be regular and fairly gentle. It should not cause you pain and should not be excessive. Taking up jogging probably won’t help, but walking, swimming or dancing might.
Osteopathy can also help keep your joints lubricated and mobile and thus may help slow the process down and control pain. Regular check ups with your osteopath are a good idea and will help you stay fit and active.
Back to top