Patients can suffer from either Rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. The two conditions are quite different. The first is an auto immune response where the body evokes an inflammatory response in a joint. The synovial membranes within the joint are attacked by the body’s own white cells (antibodies) and they become inflamed, red , swollen. The bone starts to degenerate. Joints tend to be affected bilaterally. That is to say on both left and right. Eg both hands or knees, elbows etc.
Treatment includes drugs to reduce the body’s immune response – steroids are given at the beginning. This can help but as the disease progresses stronger drugs are employed such as methotrexate or cyclosprorin.
Is the medical term to describe inflammation of the joint due to what naturally occurs to joints over the years. Wear and tear. Cartilage that covers the bones and makes the joint move smoothly becomes worn down, ultimately leading to bone erosion. The joint becomes inflamed as the body attempts to repair the damaged area and can be very painful. It mainly affects the weight bearing joints such as hips and knees as well as the lower back.
How can osteopathy help?
So just to be clear Osteopathy cannot cure patients with RA or OA. However we can help patients manage these conditions.
One of the fundamental principles of osteopathy is about the circulation being king. This means we believe that improving circulation can really help the body. By improving circulation we can reduce inflammation, encourage muscles and other tissue to work more effectively with fresh supplies of blood and other nutrients. So we employ numerous techniques to improve circulation. Research (2012 Jardine, Gillis and Rutherford) in the International journal of osteopathic medicine (www. Elsevier.com/IJOM) demonstrated improved blood supply to patients with OA of the knee.
Osteopathy’s holistic approach
As Osteopathy also takes a holistic approach to patient pain we will look at the biomechanics above and below the painful joint. Through osteopathic techniques we can improve the movement of these joints and their associated muscles and so taking the strain off the painful joint in question. Likewise if there any structural imbalances causing weight bearing on one side more than another, these can be corrected too. Helping reduce the load off the inflamed joint.
We can also provide tailored advice on therapeutic exercise and lifestyle changes that also help improve the condition. The key is to keep moving and be as active as possible. As soon as you stop moving then getting the joint moving again can be very painful. Muscles also become wasted and this in turn increases the load on the already painful joint.
Here are some useful generic exercises courtesy of Arthritis Research UK. (arthritisresearchuk.org).
Your osteopath should be able to give you some specific therapeutic exercises to hep your specific joint pain.