Arthritis literally means ‘inflammation of the joints’ and is a condition associated with pain in one or more joints of the body. Joints feel sore and stiff and can be extremely uncomfortable.
There are many different types of arthritis, the most common of which is osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition resulting from general ‘wear and tear’ of the joints.
Not all joint pain is due to arthritis however. Pain experienced in a joint or joints may simply be the product of localised inflammation or damage to the associated muscles, tendons or ligaments – a result of a recent sporting injury for example.
As it is generally a result of ‘wear and tear’ of the joints, osteoarthritis is more likely to affect people as they get older. It is thought that those who have put their joints through considerable strain in their life (e.g. sportspeople) may be more susceptible to suffering from this condition later on in life.
Other less common types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may be the result of an underlying, systemic condition and are therefore not specifically related to ‘wear and tear’.
As joints become more painful, people use them less, resulting in them becoming stiffer. As joints start to stiffen, the flow of blood to them is reduced, decreasing the inflow of vital nutrients. Fewer nutrients to the joint leads to further degeneration and slows down the resolution of inflammation in the joint, resulting in it becoming more painful. And so it continues in a vicious circle….
Although osteopathy cannot cure or reverse arthritis, our techniques of articulation, mobilisation and massage can help to reduce the pain and stiffness experienced in the joints and go some way to breaking the vicious circle and slowing down the degenerative process.