Are you suffering from joint and muscle pain?
Do you find it increasingly difficult to do everyday activities such as walking upstairs or even tying your shoes?
You could have arthritis.
Arthritis is a common problem that affects millions of people around the globe. It's a health issue that causes joint inflammation, damage, and pain, especially in older adults.
It can be a complex condition to manage and significantly impact your daily life. The pain and stiffness in your joints can often make it difficult to perform everyday tasks, like getting dressed or cooking.
It can also affect your mood and decrease your motivation to participate in activities you once enjoyed. Despite its challenges, there are ways to manage the impact of arthritis on your daily life.
But it's not just one condition. There are over 100 types of arthritis, each with varying severity. Two of the most common types are Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). So knowing the type of arthritis that you have is crucial in getting proper treatment.
But what exactly is arthritis? How can you spot it? And most importantly, how can you alleviate the symptoms if you have it?
In this blog post, we answer all these questions and more.
What Is Arthritis?
Unsure of what arthritis is and how it affects your body? You’re not alone. According to the Institute of Health and Welfare, Arthritis affects more than 3.6 million Australians.
Yet, many are unaware of the common causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
Arthritis is a common physical health issue that causes pain, swollen joints, and stiffness. But the good news is that proper diagnosis and treatment can manage the symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.
What Causes Arthritis?
If you are suffering from the painful symptoms of arthritis, you’re probably wondering what causes this condition.
Arthritis can affect any joint at any age, though it's most common among older adults.
Although many suspected risk factors are associated with arthritis (such as family history, prior injury to the affected area, or increased levels of physical activity), the exact causes remain somewhat mysterious and unclear.
But they can range from genetics, poor lifestyle choices like a lack of exercise, improper diet, infections, or another underlying medical condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis, for example, is an autoimmune disease caused by the body's immune system attacking healthy tissues. On the other hand, osteoarthritis can be tracked by a mechanical or wear and tear problem.
People who are overweight or obese are at a greater risk of developing osteoarthritis due to the increased strain on their joints.
Similarly, people who engage in repetitive, high-impact activities such as running or jumping are likelier to experience joint damage and subsequent osteoarthritis.
Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, understanding the causes of the condition can help individuals take steps to reduce their risk and manage their symptoms.
What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis?
The symptoms of arthritis depend on the type of arthritis you have. But the most common symptoms include joint pain, inflammation, stiffness, redness, and swelling. Some people also experience general body fatigue, fever, and loss of flexibility in their joints.
More specifically, rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) causes inflammation, particularly in the lining of the joints, and can affect other parts of the body. On the other hand, Osteoarthritis (OA), which is more common, causes joint pain and stiffness caused by the wearing down of cartilage in the joints.
One of the other rarer forms of arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, can also cause digestive issues and scaly patches of skin on various areas around the affected joints.
If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s worth considering a consultation with an osteopathic specialist, like Dr John White or one of the other osteopaths here at the Osteoworks clinic.
We can offer you the necessary guidance and expertise to help reduce pain and put you on a path to better health. Helping you to take care of your body, prevent injuries, and reduce the severity of the symptoms of arthritis.
How To Treat Arthritis
While there is no known cure for arthritis, several ways exist to alleviate and manage the symptoms. Some effective treatments include a combination of osteopathy, holistic therapies, and lifestyle changes like a healthy diet, exercise, and stress management.
Surgery to repair or replace severely damaged joints may sometimes be necessary.
Medication can help you manage the pain, but we tend to recommend a more natural approach with osteopathy and adopting a healthy lifestyle because both can make a significant difference to inflammation and pain levels.
For instance, by incorporating balanced, anti-inflammatory diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins, you can significantly reduce inflammation, which is a common cause of arthritis.
Exercise is essential as it helps improve mobility and flexibility and reduces joint stiffness.
We know that living (and exercising) with arthritis can be a challenge, especially when trying to stay active. However, it's essential to keep moving and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Also, remember to take breaks throughout the day and listen to your body's signals to avoid overusing or straining your joints.
Ask for help and modify activities to ensure you can continue to stay active. Small changes in your routine can make a big difference in improving your quality of life.
One great tip is to stay active is to choose low-impact exercises that don't put too much strain on your joints.
Another tip is incorporating a stretching regimen into your daily routine to loosen up your muscles and connective tissues and improve flexibility. If your pain is severe, you’ll do well with low-impact exercises such as walking, cycling, or Pilates.
But if you can manage it, try to incorporate gentle strength-building exercises into your routine too. But don’t push it – stop if you feel pain.
Lastly, managing stress levels can also be beneficial, as stress can exacerbate arthritis symptoms. Managing stress levels can massively improve your quality of life.
Still, not all stress-management techniques are suitable for people living with arthritis. Some common stress relievers can make joint pain worse.
Try low-impact exercises like yoga or swimming instead of hitting the gym for an intense cortisol-inducing workout. Meditation can also be fantastic for reducing stress but sitting for extended periods may be difficult if you have arthritis.
Instead, experiment with stress-management techniques that put minimal strain on your joints, like deep breathing or guided imagery while sitting in a comfortable seat instead of cross-legged on the floor.
How Can Osteopathy Help With Arthritis?
As we age, it's not uncommon to develop some form of joint pain. It is a debilitating condition that affects your quality of life.
For example, the pain and stiffness in the joints caused by arthritis can make simple tasks like holding a fork or opening a jar feel impossible. It is one of the most common causes of discomfort we see, and for many people, there seems to be no end to this condition.
The grind of taking medication daily with little let-up in pain can feel relentless. But osteopathy may help reduce pain and stiffness by restoring normal biomechanical functioning.
But what Is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a holistic approach to health that focuses on the musculoskeletal system and its connection to other body parts.
It involves gentle manipulation of the joints, muscles, and bones to improve overall physical function and promote healing.
For example, if you have arthritis, osteopathy can be helpful by targeting the affected areas and increasing your mobility. Unlike traditional medical treatments, osteopathy aims to treat the root cause of the problem rather than just symptom management.
We're experts in musculoskeletal health and can offer non-invasive treatment options like joint mobilization, soft tissue therapy, and osteopathic manipulative treatment to realign your spine and correct your posture.
We also advise lifestyle changes to help you manage your symptoms more effectively.
Addressing the underlying issues and restoring balance to your body can provide long-term benefits and improved quality of life.
Unlike traditional medicine, which often focuses solely on treating the symptoms of arthritis, osteopathy seeks to address the root cause of the development of arthritis in each patient – because the reason is often different.
This approach aims to restore your body’s natural balance and improve joint function through manual manipulation, stretching, and massage.
But choosing the right therapist is important because it can make a massive difference to the results and your overall health and well-being. It helps to have an osteopath who understands your unique needs and can tailor your treatment plan to fit you.
We can help you deal with everything from chronic pain and arthritis to sports injuries or help you stay flexible, fit, and healthy.