About Arthritis

What is Arthritis?

shutterstock_152239631-osteop-300x201Arthritis describes a range of over 200 different conditions that can affect bones muscles and joints all over the body, causing pain, stiffness, fatigue and difficulty performing normal daily activities.

There is currently no known cure for arthritis, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing that can be done to alleviate the consequences of arthritis. Arthritis Action have produced a Diet and arthritis factsheet which contains a lot of useful information.

In the following section, find out about the most common types of arthritis, what you can do to manage the symptoms yourself and how an osteopath can help.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It is a condition that affects the joints and occurs due to natural age related changes, causing pain and stiffness. One joint may be affected in isolation or it may affect multiple joints asymmetrically.

The discomfort tends to be worse when you move the joint and at the end of the day. Short periods of activity after rest may help to ease the symptoms and rest for a few minutes after long episodes of activity can also help.

Though there may be some changes evident on an x-ray of the affected joint, this is not always the case and the changes on the scan are also not always proportional to the amount of discomfort that the person experiences. As such, osteoarthritis is now commonly considered to be a persistent pain condition and a person may be diagnosed with osteoarthritis, without an x-ray, if they are:

  • Over the age of 45
  • Have joint pain on movement of that joint
  • Have less than 30 minutes of joint stiffness (or no joint stiffness) in the mornings.

What are the risk factors for developing Osteoarthritis?

Almost anyone can get osteoarthritis but it’s more common in people:

  • Over the age of 45
  • Women
  • Whose parents have had osteoarthritis
  • Who are overweight
  • Who have had a previous joint injury
  • Who have a physically demanding job, where you make repetitive movements
  • Whose joints have been damaged by another disease or injury.

Which joints are affected?

The most commonly effected joints are the knees, hips, lower back, base of the thumb and ends of the fingers, neck and base of the big toe.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)?

RA is an autoimmune condition where the body causes inflammation of the lining of the joints. This causes symmetrical pain, stiffness and swelling of joints on both sides of the body, though it may also affect other body areas too such as the skin, heart, eyes, lungs and nerves. Other symptoms may include, fatigue, flu like symptoms and anaemia. It is the second most common type of arthritis in the UK.

Which joints are affected?

RA can affect many of the joints of the body including the middle joints of the toes and fingers, the ball of the foot, the ankles, knees, wrist and shoulders.

What are the risk factors for developing Rheumatoid Arthritis?

There is some evidence that the following might increase your chances of developing RA:

  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol and coffee consumption
  • Eating lots of red meat
  • Genetic factors


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