Last week was World Arthritis Week 💁♀️.Arthritis affects more than 10 million people in the UK in some form.
Even though arthritis is very common, not many people really understand what it is 🤔. It’s actually not just one problem – it refers to several types of joint pain and joint disease.
In this article, we explain a little more about Arthritis, so you know what to look out for and what you can do about it!
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in our joints. It can affect one or multiple joints. There are many types of arthritis out there – over 100 different types in fact, with different causes and treatments.
Here are a few common types to learn more about:
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of Arthritis in the UK. It often develops for people in their mid-40s or older but can also occur at any age. In the spine, often joints become stuck (from a trauma or day to day movements and posture) and start to ‘rust up’. Imagine a gate that does not open for years 🚪. The bolts get rusty and it then becomes difficult to open it freely. Our joints are the same. When they have been stuck for some time (often without pain), the body grows extra bone to scaffold itself (called osteophytes). This extra bone affects movement, causes stiffness, and can press on the surrounding nerves. This process can also happen in the thumbs joints when we garden for years.
In the knees and hips, imbalances in our pelvis can increase pressure on one side of the body. Over time the smooth cartilage lining of the joint thins, and extra bone is grown to stabilise the joint. Losing cartilage can then lead to bone rubbing on bone 🦴, leading to inflammation and pain. The tendons and ligaments also have to work harder to make joints work which can increase pain and swelling.
A chiropractor will usually assess the movements of your joints and may request an x-ray if they feel that the joint restrictions are severe, swelling and pain is making movement difficult or extra bony growth may be affecting the nerves. Once we know the level of the problem, we can help you get moving again and decrease your pain, by restoring healthy movement into the joints and taking pressure away from the nerves. Massage helps us re-balance the muscles and improve flexibility. Whilst we cannot cure osteoarthritis, often people can have excellent movement and flexibility, less pain and carry on doing the things they love 👩🌾.
This form of arthritis usually starts between 40 and 50 years of age, but it’s three times more likely to affect women than men. In this form, the body’s immune system attacks the joints.
This can cause pain and swelling 🤕 usually on both sides of the body in a symmetrical pattern. Joints become red, hot, and swollen due to the damage affecting the joint capsule. Usually, these symptoms occur in episodes and then spontaneously reduce. Overtime episodes can severely damage the joints affecting the ability to use them. Commonly, it affects the fingers, wrists, elbows, and knees. This form of arthritis can also lead to problems with other tissues and organs in the body. To diagnoses this, we usually need blood tests. Normally we would co-manage care with your GP as sometimes medication is required.
Your chiropractor can help improve the range of motion of the joints, your flexibility and the muscle tone and strength in your body, as well as offering advice on reducing the inflammation you’re experiencing 🔥, with diet and nutrition.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) (spondyloarthropathies)
This is a long-term condition, and often first develops in teenagers and young adults 🧒. It’s twice as likely to affect men than women. It’s thought to be linked to a particular gene. Parts of the spine and pelvis start to fuse together leading to back pain and stiffness, as well as fatigue, pain and swelling in other parts of the body 🙆♂️.
Pain often occurs in episodes and can come in conjunction with ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease). Together they are known as an enteropathic arthropathy.
Working with chiropractic and massage therapy can help reduce the pain and symptoms associated with AS by keeping the spine moving 💆♀️. An exercise regime is important, as is managing diet. Like rheumatoid arthritis, AS is usually managed with the support of a rheumatologist and medication can be required when an episode of pain and inflammation occurs.
We hope this brings to light some of the info behind arthritis. If you are experiencing discomfort, give us a call and arrange an appointment – we work with you, to help move towards a less painful and more active lifestyle 🙌.