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Arthritis

There’s no getting away from the fact that life with arthritis can be difficult.  However by making a few simple adjustments it is possible to take control, and lead a full and active life.

 

Types of arthritis

The two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Typically these have similarities and differences. Most importantly many believe this is genetic, however many forms are not due to family heritage. Therefore its incredibly important to identify the type so the best management can be applied.

Osteoarthritis

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.

This type is NOT genetic and therefore can be easily managed if identified early. Secondly the earlier it is identified the better the outcomes commonly are.

Likewise many believe that exercise is dangerous due to stiffness and discomfort. However if the right exercise is identified this commonly helps and improves the individuals condition. Most importantly this should be checked with a professional in order to reduce injury risk.

Rheumatoid arthritis

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

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

Symptoms of arthritis

The symptoms 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

Managing arthritis

Many people find complementary and alternative therapies helpful. Firstly 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. For example our physiotherapists and chiropractors may use a variety of different manual techniques, including:

spinal adjustments 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. Commonly 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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