We are all getting older – the evidence is in our wrinkles and grey hairs. Ageing also happens on the inside in the form of wear and tear in the joints. This is not always painful, and can often be present with no symptoms. Sometimes though, there may be flare ups when ageing joints develop inflammation and muscle spasm which can be painful.
Osteoarthritis and Activity
Just because you have a diagnosis of “wear and tear”, “osteoarthritis”, or “degenerative joint disease” – all these words mean the same thing – does not mean you have to stop doing what you enjoy. In fact it is recommended you continue to be as active as possible because this helps your muscles and joints. There is plenty of research which shows that exercise can greatly alleviate the symptoms of arthritis in the joints.
Exercise can take any form you like or can manage.
If you are in the middle of a flare up of your symptoms, it may be advisable to shorten or adapt your activities until it settles down again.
Osteoarthritis and Nutrition
Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most effective ways of reducing the extent of osteoarthritis, particularly in the knees hips and feet. Typically, a reduction of 5% of body weight can reduce pain significantly. For example, this would be half a stone for a 10 stone person.
Diets rich in omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have been found to be beneficial for rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis but not for osteoarthritis.
At the moment, there is very little research evidence that cod liver oil, glucosamine or other supplements help with osteoarthritis, and there is little evidence to suggest that certain foods aggravate it. Having said that, sometimes research needs to catch up with experience, so the best advice is to be aware of your own body and take notice of what makes you feel better.
- Walk briskly for 20 minutes a day.
- Do regular Tai Chi or other balancing exercise to help prevent falls.
- Wear shoes that are well-fitting and have good shock-absorption eg trainers.
- Joining social groups will help you to avoid feeling low.
- Eat a variety of nutritious foods and keep a healthy weight.
- Try using ESCAPE-Pain (www.escape-pain.org) to help self-manage your symptoms
How Osteopathy can help
People often find that treatment from an osteopath can help manage their symptoms better, often in tandem with advice from their GP and appropriate pharmaceutical products.
In some cases, joint replacement surgery may eventually be the best option, but there are usually lots of things that you can try before you consider surgery.
The role of the osteopath in the context of ageing joints is to help with muscle spasm, restore function and improve the circulation and fluid drainage around the joints. Every treatment is tailored to the condition of each person’s joints and we adapt treatment to suit those with damaged joints and those with a risk of osteoporosis.
We give advice about appropriate exercise, and analyse any activity that might be contributing to the problem. We can also help to advise you on gadgets and aids to help support the affected joints.
Osteopaths use input and feedback from you to fine-tune their treatment and advice, and our goal is that you remain active and get the most out of life.
Medication and surgery and how osteopathy can help.
No one likes taking medication, but most people with arthritis will have been prescribed tablets for their symptoms to reduce pain, or swelling or to control the progression of the condition at some stage. It is always advisable to have regular conversations with your GP about the medication you are taking, whether it is effective and whether you are having any side-effects.
If surgery becomes necessary, the osteopath will talk with you about the process of requesting a referral. We will also help you consider how to improve the strength of the supporting muscles around the joint and your general fitness before the surgery. Being fit for surgery and having realistic expectations 0n what surgery can achieve will help to ensure the best possible outcome. We will guide you through all this.
All aspects of our work are integrated into the treatment session, and therefore covered by the standard fee.