Help, Osteoarthritis! how to relieve pain

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is degeneration or wear and tear of the cartilage which surrounds the bone endings that form a joint. When cartilage wears off it has a negative impact on the joint function which as a result can have an impact, to a certain degree, on the quality of life of a person. In addition, it is the most common joint disorder as well as the most common type of arthritis.

What causes osteoarthritis?

Generally, but not always, OA occurs at the joints you use the most throughout your lifetime as it is a wear and tear disorder. However, in many cases it is complicated to distinguish one specific cause of development of OA as a number of factors are/can be involved. Those include:

  •  age, 
  • genetics, 
  • ethnicity, 
  • gender and hormones specific to the gender, 
  • diet, 
  • occupation, 
  • physical activity, 
  • biomechanics of the skeleton, 
  • ligament laxity, 
  • bone mineral density, 
  • previous injuries or traumas, 
  • previous operations/surgeries and more, 
  • hence, OA can be a multifactorial disorder.

What parts of the body can osteoarthritis affect?

OA can occur at any joint in the body. However, joints which are involved in weight bearing or repetitive activities are mostly affected by the OA. Those include knees, hands, hips and spine. Experts refer to OA in the spine  as spondylosis. Other common areas for the OA to occur are feet, elbows and shoulders. 

What are common symptoms of osteoarthritis?

The main symptom is pain during an activity in the affected joint. The joint also feels stiff, particularly in the mornings or after not being moved for a while. You might also experience crepitus, which is a sensation of grinding or cracking in the affected area. Also, the affected joint might appear more prominent and nobly due to abnormal bone growth in the joint.

The intensity of symptoms may vary from mild to severe mostly depending on the degree of the OA. In some cases, it might be nagging discomfort whereas in others it can be debilitating, significantly impacting the ability to function on a day to day basis. 

What is osteopathy?

Osteopathy is an alternative medicine approach which helps to manage and/or improve musculoskeletal related acute or chronic injuries, pains or aches by manipulating joints and muscle tissue. In the UK, osteopaths have to complete an intense 4-year undergraduate, or 2-year postgraduate program in order to lawfully practice as an osteopath. Every practising osteopath must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council which is the governing body for the osteopaths in the UK.

How can osteopathy help osteoarthritis?

There is evidence suggesting that muscle tissue and joint manipulation helps to manage and improve the symptoms of people suffering with osteoarthritis which in turn can improve the quality of life. Passively moving the joints promotes natural lubrication, hence, the friction in the area can be reduced helping to improve the joint function and reduce stiffness. This may also have an analgesic effect helping to reduce the pain. Relaxing tensed up muscles around the affected joint also helps to manage muscle aches and further improves the function of the affected joint. The scale and longevity of the benefits of the treatment varies depending on the degree of the OA, symptoms and how the area is used after the treatment.

Can osteopathy cure osteoarthritis?

There is no evidence to suggest that osteopathy can cure OA. However, there is evidence suggesting that the degeneration rate of the knee OA can be slowed down and, in some cases, even stopped with controlled loading of the joints using resistance training. Although most osteopaths are experts in manual therapy, some of the osteopaths are adept in exercise prescription too, meaning they would be able to guide you through the process of self-management using resistance exercises.

We hope this information is useful for you. If you need advice or have any questions about our treatments, please contact us. You can find us 3 mins away from Angel station in Islington. We are always happy to help. If you like this blog, please share!


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