Arthritis is a common condition that affects up to 10 million people in the UK alone. It refers to a group of more than 100 different types of joint disorders that cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and decreased joint mobility.
Of the different types of arthritis, the two most common are:
1) Osteoarthritis – which is the most common form of arthritis. It is a degenerative condition that primarily affects the cartilage, the protective tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint. As the cartilage thins and roughens, movement can be more difficult and painful. The muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joint then have to work harder, which can in turn cause problems. Whilst there is no specific cause of osteoarthritis, risk factors include:
It can affect any joint in the body, but most commonly it affects the:
2) Rheumatoid Arthritis – is a form of inflammatory arthritis, which is less common than osteoarthritis. It is a result of the immune system attacking the joints, leading to inflammation, pain and stiffness, often affecting multiple joints. There are no specific causes of rheumatoid arthritis, but it most commonly starts between 30-50 years of age, is more frequent in women and those with a family history of the condition.
Other types of inflammatory arthritis include gout, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, enteropathic arthritis and reactive arthritis.
What can I do if I have arthritis?
There is no cure for arthritis, but there are many things that can be done to help manage the pain, improve mobility, slow down progression of the condition and allow you to continue to live an active life. These include:
Treatment of arthritis
Treatment of arthritis depends on the underlying cause, severity and duration of the symptoms. In many cases, particularly with osteoarthritis, conservative treatments are effective in relieving the symptoms of arthritis. At Castle Clinic there are several treatment options you could explore if you are suffering with symptoms of arthritis.
Acupuncture can help arthritis by targeting nerve signals coming from the affected joint, reducing the intensity of pain. It can also help in reducing inflammation and stimulating muscle relaxation.
Chiropractic relieves arthritis by maximising joint mobility and aiding the relaxation of any muscle spasm with the application of joint and spinal manipulation.
Herbal Medicine can be used to create personalised herbal remedies and tinctures to reduce joint inflammation and therefore symptoms.
Laser Therapy has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation in patients with arthritis.
Osteopathy aids in the management of arthritis using joint and spinal manipulation, along with massage and stretch techniques to decompress joints, improve joint and spinal function and reduce muscle tightness around the joint.
Physiotherapy helps arthritis by finding the right exercises to improve flexibility, strength and balance in order to reduce the physical stress on the joints and maintain joint mobility.
Podiatry can help arthritis in the leg by ensuring your feet are in the optimum position and supported, by advising you on wearing the right footwear or building you custom orthotic shoe inserts. This can help minimise the impact of the ground force upon your joints when weightbearing.
Non-conservative management of arthritis
Alternative to or alongside the therapies above, there are medical options available to help you manage the symptoms of arthritis. These include:
Arthritis is a chronic condition that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, but with the right knowledge and management strategies, it is possible to lead a fulfilling and active life. Seeking professional advice and adopting a holistic approach to treatment and lifestyle changes can make a world of difference in managing arthritis and reducing its impact on your life.