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Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. In the UK, around 10 million people have arthritis. It affects people of all ages, including children.


Types of arthritis

The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, affecting around 8 million people.

It often develops in people who are over 50 years of age. However, it can occur at any age as a result of an injury or another joint-related condition.

Osteoarthritis initially affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint. This makes movement more difficult than usual, leading to pain and stiffness.

Rheumatoid arthritis

In the UK, rheumatoid arthritis affects more than 400,000 people. It often starts when a person is between 40 and 50 years old. Women are three times more likely to be affected than men.

Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis are two different conditions. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system targets affected joints, which leads to pain and swelling.

Symptoms of arthritis

The symptoms of arthritis you experience will vary depending on the type you have. This is why it’s important to have an accurate diagnosis if you have:

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

Treating arthritis

Many people with arthritis find complementary and alternative therapies helpful. They do not cure arthritis, but they may help to ease symptoms. Complementary therapies are often used alongside conventional treatment.

There are dozens of complementary and alternative therapies. Our physiotherapists and chiropractors may use a variety of different manual techniques, including:

manipulation and stretching

technologies such as ultrasound, laser or interferential treatment

exercise programmes to strengthen muscles and improve general fitness.

Acupuncture is also used successfully to help ease the symptoms of arthritis. Very fine needles are inserted into specific points in the body. It’s thought to work by diverting or changing painful sensations sent to the brain and by stimulating the body’s own pain-relieving hormones (endorphins and encephalins).

Some of the therapies most popular with people with arthritis are:

physiotherapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, hydrotherapy, tai chi & yoga

For more information about arthritis see www.arthritisresearchuk.org and www.arthritiscare.org.uk

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