Arthritis is the leading source of pain in people over the age of 50. There are many forms of arthritis each of which has a different cause. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are autoimmune diseases in which the body is attacking itself. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, or otherwise known as 'degenerative changes' or 'wear and tear type arthritis'. There is an emerging evidence that abnormal alignment and anatomy contribute to wear and tear.
All arthritides feature pain. Patterns of pain differ, osteoarthritis is classically worse at night or following rest, rheumatoid arthritis is generally worse in the morning. Diagnosis is dependent on a detailed physical examination, history in conjunction with blood tests and x-rays.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is traditionally considered a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder which causes the immune system to attack the joints. This results in inflammation which takes place within the joint causing redness, swelling, maybe warmth and pain. This causes damage to the cartilage and sometimes the bone itself. It my also damage any ligaments within the joint and tendons around the joint.
To better understand osteoarthritis, the most common arthritis, you need to understand the basic anatomy of the normal joint. A joint is where two bones meet. The ends of the bone are covered by slick, shiny cartilage, synovial membrane which secretes a lubricating fluid, and the tough joint capsule encasing the entire joint.
Osteoarthritis or 'wear and tear' develops when articular cartilage begins to break down and the normally smooth sliding surfaces of the bones become pitted and irregular. Localised inflammation or swelling may occur. As bone surfaces become less well protected by cartilage, the person experiences pain upon weight bearing, including walking and standing. Hence, the person moves less because of pain and the muscles in the area weaken further. The joint is now unprotected increasing the 'wear and tear' even more in the area.
How can physiotherapy help?
A detailed assessment and examination of the areas affected is best carried out by a chartered physiotherapist. Every patient is different, hence there is no standard solution and all the patients need individual programmes of treatment and exercise. Physiotherapy treatment can reduce pain levels, improve mobility and strengthen, so improving your lifestyle.
We have been trained to implement the safest most effective treatment from a wide range of proven therapy;
- Spinal manipulation and manual therapy
- Soft tissue techniques – massage, friction, triggerpoint therapy
- Posture correction
- Flexibility and strengthening exercises
- Laser, ultrasound, electrotherapy and heat treatment
- Biomechanical assessment and prescription of orthotics (customised insoles)
- Prescription and fitting of collars, pillows, spinal supports, lumbar rolls and corrective seating