A Painful Joint Condition.

As the weather changes, we have started to see an increase in people suffering with their arthritis at Physiofusion. Arthritis is normally identified by inflammation in the joints, which causes pain, swelling and stiffness. The 3 most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and gout.

The most prevalent is OA – this is where the cartilage in the joints breaks down, leaving the bone surface uncovered. The next type is RA, which is caused by the immune system attacking itself; the final type is gout, where the pain is caused by crystals forming in the joints (big toes are prime areas) which is caused by accumulation of uric acid.

As physios, we help people with arthritis by spending a lot of time building up the strength of muscles, tendons and ligaments around the painful joints, which help support the joints better. If we also stretch these muscles, people often find it can help to reduce pain too. In addition to building up the tissue around the arthritic joint, keeping core muscles strong can also help to support the rest of the body. Acupuncture for OA in the knee has been proven clinically effective, and we use accessory mobilisations to get stiff joints loosened up again (preventing the ‘mortar and pestle’ effect).

Alongside physio-prescribed treatment / exercises, keeping moving is a key message – if you’re struggling with your knees, then non-weight bearing exercise such as swimming or cycling (and some yoga and Tai Chi) can help. If you’re not sure what exercises would be best for you, get in touch with either your physio or GP for specific advice. Exercise can also help maintain a healthy weight – joints that are carrying more weight are likely to be more painful.

Hot showers or using a sauna can work to relieve symptoms in a natural way, as can dietary changes – ask your nutritional therapist for information. The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories can also be appropriate – again, get advice before you start taking them.

Everyone will have a slightly different experience of their condition; the important thing is working out what works for you – and then pacing your activity accordingly. There are whole ranges of house-hold items that have been designed to make life easier around the house for arthritis sufferers, from grabbers to kneeling stools.

If you need any more help on how to manage your condition, you can Ask-A-Physio for free information and advice.