Arthritis

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Definition

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis in the UK.

Cause

It used to be considered ‘wear and tear’ of  the bone/cartilage of synovial joints but is now recognised as a metabolically active process involving the whole joint: cartilage, bone, capsule, muscle and lining of the joint).

There are factors that increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis;

  • Previous joint injury, a major joint injury or surgery may lead to osteoarthritis in later life.
  • Other conditions such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Age, osteoarthritis usually begins to develop from late 40’s. This may be due to changes associated with aging such as reduced activity, weight-gain, muscle weakness and the body being less able to heal itself fully.
  • Gender - osteoarthritis is more common in women
  • Joint abnormalities, being born or acquiring joint abnormalities can lead to earlier osteoarthritis (e.g. instability, poor muscle function)
  • Obesity
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Ethnic background. OA is more common in black and Asian population.
  • Certain occupations (e.g. farming)

Symptoms and Signs

  • Typical symptoms of osteoarthritis are joint stiffness and pain.
  • Some people also experience tenderness and/or swelling around the joint and a cracking or popping sounds.
  • Symptoms vary from person to person. Some people experience very little pain while others experience severe pain which limits their daily activities.
  • Any joint can be affected by the most common joints are hips, knees, small joints of the hands and spine.

Investigations

Most common investigation for OA is X-ray.

Other investigations may include bloods tests including inflammatory markers to exclude inflammatory arthritis (such as rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis). 

What complementary and alternative therapies shall I try?

  • Osteopathy. Research has shown that manual therapy such as Osteopathy can:
    • Reduce the pain and stiffness, increase function and range of motion of patients with OA of the hips (Hoeksma et al, 2004, French et al, 2011)
    • Reduce sensations of grinding and popping sounds (Pollard et al, 2008)
    • Improve balance and function more than exercise alone (Ko et al, 2009)
    • Trying to stay active (even if it is uncomfortable) is really beneficial, it helps to keep your muscles strong which support the joints (Mariette et al 2011). Osteopaths will be able to advise best exercises for your condition. Research shows strength training and exercise significantly improve pain and physical function in knee osteoarthritis (Mariette et al 2011).

 

  • Acupuncture has been shown to improve function and pain relief in osteoarthritis when used alongside exercise (Manheimer et al 2006).
  • Nutritional therapy. Being overweight can increase the stress and load on the joints, especially the spine, hips and knees. There is high quality evidence to say that exercise and weight reduction reduces pain and improved physical function in osteoarthritic knees (Messier et al, 2013). At the Natural Practice our Nutritionist Ruth Taylor we can provide you with the help and guidance to keep a healthy weight or reduce your weight if needed.
  • Homeopathy. There is some evidence showing that homeopathic remedies may be useful in management of osteoarthritis (Long and Ernst, 2001)
  • Integrated medicine. The doctors combine conventional treatments with a combination of herbal and homeopathic remedies, nutritional supplements, diet and psychological techniques depending on the individual circumstances.
  • Reiki and reflexology aim to stimulate and restore the natural balance of the body and place it in a position to restore or boost it’s own natural healing system.
  • Hypnotherapy can reduce stress by calming the body down and places the body and mind into a state of deep relaxation and stimulate repair mechanisms.

What practitioners can I see about this condition?

Follow up

After you initial consultation, we recommend that you have regular check-ups to monitor your symptoms and response to interventions. The practitioner will advise on appropriate follow up arrangements for your individual situation.   

Multidisciplinary approach

Depending on your needs, your care may be shared with other practitioners at the natural practice or elsewhere. Whenever you permit us, we will write to your GP to ensure they are aware of our recommendations and follow up arrangements.

Further information:

Arthritis research UK

References

  • Simon C. et al Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • Jones D.S.  et al The textbook of functional medicine 3rd ed, Gig Harbour, WA: Institute for Functional Medicine, 2010.
  • Anthony, H et al Environmental Medicine in clinical practice, Southampton: BSAENM publications, 1997.
  • French et al (2011) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21146444 
  • Hoeksma et al (2004) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/art.20685
  • Marriet et al (2011) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1836955311700029
  • Messier et al, (2013) https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/1741824
  • Pollard et al (2008) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19066697
  • Long L, Ernst E. Homeopathic remedies for the treatment of osteoarthritis: a systematic review. British Homoeopathic Journal 2001; 90(1): 37-43
  • Long L, Ernst E. Homeopathic remedies for the treatment of osteoarthritis: a systematic review. British Homoeopathic Journal 2001; 90(1): 37-43