If you suffer from chronic pain in your neck, low back, hip, or knee and notice that these areas are particularly stiff in the morning, you may be suffering from a form of arthritis.
Arthritis can been divided into two types – degenerative and inflammatory. Degenerative arthritis or osteoarthritis, is very common and is often referred to as general ‘wear and tear’. It is usually experienced in the neck, low back, fingers, hips and knees. Typical symptoms include joint swelling, pain and stiffness.
Inflammatory arthritis, such as Rheumatoid arthritis, is far less common but can affect people at a younger age and the symptoms are usually more severe. These types are more systemic and affect the whole body.
Osteoarthritis is a very mis-understood condition. Many people believe that it cannot affect you until you are much older. The truth is that ‘wear and tear’ can affect your joints as early as your late 20s. Factors such as a poor posture, bad lifting technique, lack of exercise and an accumulation of old injuries can predispose to early osteoarthritis.
One of the dangers of arthritis in the spine is the incidence of trapped nerves. This can occur when nerves get irritated at areas where joints get inflammed. Sciatica is an example of a trapped nerve. Another problem with arthritis in the hips and knees is not being able to walk comfortably which, of course, can place extra strain on other organs if you cannot get any gentle exercise.
Arthritis can be detected by a routine Osteopathic assessment and confirmed by x-rays, blood tests or even MRIs.
In addition to pain-killers and anti-inflammatories, an Osteopath can help greatly with overcoming the symptoms of arthritis through soft tissue massage, manipulation, stretching and exercise advice.