Osteopathy & Arthritis
Years ago, arthritis was considered an inherent part of the aging process, and a signal to a patient that it’s time to slow down; but not anymore. Recent research and clinical findings show that there is much more to life for arthritis patients than the traditional recommendations of bed rest and drug therapy.
What Is Arthritis?
The word “arthritis” means “joint inflammation”, and is often used in reference to rheumatic diseases. Rheumatic diseases include more than 100 conditions, including gout, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and many more. Rheumatoid arthritis is also a rheumatic disease, affecting about 1 percent of the population. Although rheumatoid arthritis often begins in middle age and is more frequent in the older generation, it can also start at a young age.
Arthritis may be divided into two types – degenerative and inflammatory. DEGENERATIVE or OSTEOARTHRITIS is the commonest form, sometimes called ‘wear and tear’, and is usually localised to a specific site such as the hips, knees or spine. Its classic features of pain, stiffness and restricted mobility may often be eased and improved with skilled osteopathic treatment.
Osteopathy for people with arthritis is aimed to:
- Provide immediate relief from symptoms
- Reduce pain and swelling
- Promote range of joint movement
- Improve mobility
- Assist in rehabilitation after surgery, e.g. hip replacement
- Educate on how you can improve your quality of life through diet and nutritional support, posture, and exercise
Treatments may include:
Mobilisation and manipulation techniques are passive movements applied to a joint or soft tissue by the Osteopath in a specific manner to help restore full movement to a joint that is painful and restricted. Manual therapy is often useful in the chronic forms of arthritis, and is often successful when other methods such as heat and exercises have given little to no relief.
Exercise is critical in successful arthritis management. It helps maintain healthy and strong muscles, joint mobility, flexibility, endurance, and helps control weight. Rest, on the other hand, helps to decrease active joint inflammation, pain, and fatigue. For best results, arthritis patients need a good balance between the two: more rest during the active phase of arthritis, and more exercise during remission.
Self-Management Individuals who participate in self-management programs notice a decrease in joint pain and frequency of arthritis-related doctors’ visits, increases in physical activity, and overall improvement in quality of life. You will be given positive advice related to your lifestyle and about how you use your body. You may also be given advice about your diet, which in some people may be a factor in their arthritis.
S T R E T C H OF THE MONTH
The hips are a common problem area for people with arthritis.
- Get on your hands and knees on a mat or comfortable carpet.
- Extend one leg up and out behind you and hold it in that position for five seconds.
- Repeat five times with each leg.
Arthritis and Food
When it comes to specific foods you should eat, an anti-inflammatory diet involves avoiding foods that make inflammation worse and eating plenty of foods that reduce it.
These foods all help to reduce some aspect of inflammation:
Omega-3 fatty acids Salmon, herring, mackerel (not king), sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout, oysters, eggs, flaxseed (ground & oil) and walnuts.
Extra-virgin olive oil Use olive oil when cooking.
Antioxidants May help prevent arthritis, slow its progression & relieve pain.
Vitamin C Guava, sweet peppers, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, pineapple, lemons, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, kidney beans, cauliflower, red cabbage, mangos.
Selenium Brazil nuts, tuna, crab, oysters, pasta (whole-wheat), lean beef, cod, whole grains, turkey & wheat germ.
Carotenes Sweet potato, carrots, kale, butternut squash, turnip greens, pumpkin, mustard greens, red pepper, apricots and spinach.