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Arthritis and osteopathy

Approximately 10 million people in the UK have arthritis. Arthritis affects people of all ages – adults and children – and is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Left unchecked, both types can severely affect mobility and quality of life.


A normal joint’s bones are coated with a layer of cartilage – tough, slippery tissue that acts as a shock absorber and helps the bones move smoothly.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the body’s cartilage lining starts to thin and get rougher. The bone underneath gets thicker and in some cases, may form bony spurs called osteophytes. This means that the joints no longer move as smoothly as they should, and your body’s tendons and ligaments have to work much harder.

In severe cases, the cartilage will become so thin it no longer covers the ends of the bones, which means that your bones rub together, wearing away and forcing them out of their normal position.

Usually, people will have reached their late 40s or more before developing osteoarthritis. If you have a family history of osteoarthritis, you are more likely to develop the condition. It is also more prevalent in women. However, osteoarthritis can hit at any age – it may be due to an injury or as a result of another joint-related condition.

Approximately 8 million people in the UK live with osteoarthritis.

Joints that tend to be affected by osteoarthritis include:

• Hands and fingers

• Hips

• Spine

• Knees

• Elbows

• Neck

• Feet and ankles

• Shoulders

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis differs from osteoarthritis in that rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disorder that leads to warm, painful, swollen joints, most commonly in the wrists and hands.
Symptoms can develop over weeks to months and the condition may affect other parts of the body. People with rheumatoid arthritis may have inflammation around the heart and/or lungs, a low red blood cell count, notice that their energy levels are much lower, and may be feverish at times.

How can an osteopath help you manage arthritis?

Sadly, arthritis is not something that will ever go away, but there are treatments that may help you manage the condition, ease pain, reduce swelling and enjoy better quality of life.
An osteopaths is able to help some arthritis sufferers, although this will depend from person to person. By gently moving and stretching the joints and massaging the surrounding tissues and muscles, discomfort can be eased and inflammation can be reduced. General mobility techniques can also help to manage pain and aid your body’s overall mobility and range of joint movement.
An osteopath can also help people with arthritis by offering advice on posture, exercises, diet and any changes to your lifestyle that could improve mobility or relieve/manage pain and discomfort.

Please note that your osteopath may need x-rays, blood tests and potentially MRI tests to assess the extent of your condition.

For further information, then please ‘Ask Andy’. There’s really no need to suffer in silence, help is at hand. You can either book an appointment by clicking here or by calling our Billericay Practice on 01277 650010; Pinner Practice on 0208 868 3555 or Parkstone Practice on 01202 734211.

Author Info

Andy Caughey

Andy graduated from the college of osteopaths in 2000. He has a keen interest in sports and is a qualified sports therapist. He is proficient in the use of electrotherapy including ultrasound and interferential and will also include new therapies such as Kinesio taping in his treatments.

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