previous arrow
next arrow

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:

  • Age
  • Gender (more common in women)
  • Family history 
  • Previous joint injury 
  • Obesity 
  • Smoking

It can affect any joint in the body, but most commonly it affects the: 

  • Hips
  • Knees
  • Spine
  • Hands

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:

  • Exercise – whilst exercise can be painful if you have arthritis, finding non-painful exercises that support muscle strength, balance and encourage flexibility in other joints are important to reduce the stress and strain on your joints, minimising pain and stiffness. Exercise also assists weight loss, which in turn reduces the pressure on your joints. 
  • Weight management – excess body weight places increased mechanical stress on weight-bearing joints, particularly the hips and knees, accelerating the degeneration of the cartilage. Fat tissue produces inflammatory substances known as cytokines, which can contribute to chronic inflammation and pain within the joints. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise is a key part of arthritis management, particularly for those who are overweight. 
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet – will help with weight management and more. Avoiding certain foods that can promote inflammation, such as processed, sugary or fried foods as well as alcohol, can limit inflammation and the pain you experience. Eating foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids (e.g fatty fish, walnuts and flax seeds) and antioxidants (e.g fruits, vegetables and green tea) can have an anti-inflammatory effect, reducing pain and stiffness.
  • Assistive devices – such as joint strapping and braces as well as walking sticks. These can help reduce the physical stress on joints, therefore reduce the pain experienced. 

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:

  • Painkillers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac).
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (used to reduce swelling and slow down the progression of inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis).
  • Corticosteroid injections.
  • Surgery (including key-hole joint repair and joint replacement surgery).


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.