Extremely common especially with an ageing population in the UK. We are often asked by patients “is there anything you can do to help my arthritis”? and the simple answer is YES.
Obviously once a cartilage has undergone degenerative change we can’t regrow the cartilage for you. However, with degeneration or “arthritic change” comes joint stiffness and pain. Therefore, if the joint does not move well the muscles, ligaments and tendons have to work twice as hard so they get tense and painful. We work on relaxing down the areas around the arthritis so the joint can move more freely. Also if a joint is stuck we use “chiropractic”. It literally means hand-practice in greek. So we introduce movement to that stuck joint. I like to use the analogy of a rusty nut and bolt. If we can start loosening that bolt and you can start adding some oil (WD40) such as a natural omega-3 fish oil and dietary change the bolt will move freer. We have not changed the cartilage “wear and tear” but we have helped the joint from ceasing up.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis literally means joint inflammation and there are over 200 different types of arthritis that can affect both young and old people. It affects 10 million people living in the UK alone. Arthritis can affect different parts of the body and each type has a different cause. It is a group of conditions that involves damage to the joints and in some cases can also affect the soft tissues of the body such as ligaments, lungs and heart valves. It is a painful and often debilitating illness.
The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in in the over fifty-fives.
Arthritis is often associated with older people, but it can also affect children. In the UK, about 15,000 children and young people are affected by arthritis. Most types of childhood arthritis are known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). JIA causes pain and inflammation in 1 or more joints for at least 6 weeks. The exact cause of JIA is unknown however luckily the symptoms often improve as they get older.
What are the Symptoms of arthritis?
The symptoms of arthritis you experience will vary depending on the type you have so please continue below to see all the different types.
However if you have some of the following go to your GP:
- joint pain, tenderness and stiffness
- inflammation in and around the joints
- restricted movement of the joints
- warm, red skin over the affected joint
- weakness and muscle wasting
The Different Types of Arthritis
It most often develops in adults who are in their mid-40s or older. It can occur in younger patients who have damaged a joint from trauma such as a knee injury or disc herniation. It is more common in women and people with a family history of the condition. It can be associated with other joint-related conditions, such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis initially affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint. This makes movement more difficult than usual, leading to pain and stiffness. Once the cartilage lining starts to roughen and thin out, the tendons and ligaments have to work harder. This can cause swelling and the formation of bony spurs, called osteophytes. It is good to have a check to see what stage you are at with the osteoarthritis and get some x rays taken. Once severe loss of cartilage has set in it can lead to bone rubbing on bone, altering the shape of the joint and forcing the bones out of their normal position. This is when you see visible deformities in the hands for example the knuckles or feet / spine.
The most commonly affected joints are those in the:
All of which Chiropractors treat day in day out.
Osteoarthritis is commonly referred to as degenerative joint disease, is a result of repetitive trauma of the joint and therefore occurs as we get older from stressing the joints again and again. Commonly seen in practice is “cervical spondylosis” or “degenerative disc disease” which responds very favourably to treatment.
The second most common form of arthritis affecting more than 400,000 people in the UK. It usually starts between the ages of 40 and 50 years old. Women are 3 times more likely to be affected than men. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system starts targeting the affected joints, which leads to pain and swelling. The outer covering (synovium) of the joint is the first place affected. This can then spread across the joint, leading to further swelling and a change in the joint’s shape. This may cause the bone and cartilage to break down. People with rheumatoid arthritis can also develop problems with other tissues and organs in their body. Many RA patients are prescribed corticosteroids. Please be aware that this can significantly affect your bone density particularly if you have had long term use of it. So it may be worth you having a DEXA scan at the practice to check your T score reading.
Other types of arthritis and related conditions
Ankylosing Spondylitis – a long-term inflammatory condition that mainly affects the bones, muscles and ligaments of the spine, leading to stiffness and joints fusing together. Other problems can include the swelling of tendons, eyes and large joints. More commonly affecting males we see a lot of these patients presenting with sacroiliac and thoracic pain.
Cervical Spondylosis– also known as degenerative osteoarthritis, cervical spondylitis affects the joints and bones in the neck, which can lead to pain and stiffness. Some common symptoms are pain when reversing the car and is successfully treated at the practice increasing the neck range of movement and decreasing inflammation.
Fibromyalgia– causes pain in the body’s muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Lupus– an autoimmune condition that can affect many different organs and the body’s tissues.
Gout– a type of arthritis caused by too much uric acid in the body. This can be left in joints (usually affecting the big toe) but can develop in any joint. It causes intense pain, redness and swelling. Dietary changes can make huge differences with this making simple lifestyle changes without relying on medication.
Psoriatic Arthritis– an inflammatory joint condition that can affect people with psoriasis.
Enteropathic Arthritis– a form of chronic, inflammatory arthritis associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the 2 main types being ulcerative colitis and Chron’s disease. About 1 in 5 people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis will develop enteropathic arthritis. The most common areas affected by inflammation are the peripheral (limb) joints and the spine.
Reactive Arthritis– this can cause inflammation of the joints, eyes and urethra (the tube that urine passes through). It develops shortly after an infection of the bowel, genital tract or, less frequently, after a throat infection.
Secondary arthritis – a type of arthritis that can develop after a joint injury and sometimes occurs many years afterwards.
Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR)– a condition that almost always affects people over 50 years of age, where the immune system causes muscle pain and stiffness, usually across the shoulders and tops of the legs. It can also cause joint inflammation.