Arthritis is a term almost everyone has heard of. It's an extremely common condition, yet it is very variable and there is no cure. It's a major cause of disability and chronic pain in Australia. Arthritis is usually manageable, yet it invariably impacts on a patient's quality of life and includes varying degrees of discomfort and pain.
Arthritis means 'joint inflammation'.
Arthritis-related problems include pain, stiffness, inflammation and sometimes damage to the joint cartilage, ligaments and bones.
This may result in joint weakness, instability and sometimes deformities that can interfere with the most basic daily tasks such as walking, driving a car and preparing food.
While there are about 100 different forms of arthritis, the three most significant - osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout - account for more than 95 per cent of cases in Australia. Arthritis is not limited to our aging population - it affects young adults and even children.
Osteopathy may play a role in helping you manage your arthritis in the following ways:
- Working on the surrounding muscles to reduce stiffness and soreness.
- Improving lymphatic drainage to reduce swelling.
- Gently moving and stretching the arthritic joint to encourage better fluid movement.
- Providing advice on ways to reduce inflammation
Perhaps more importantly are the hours in the week, or month, that you can work on ways to help yourself. Some suggestions are:
- Try doing some gentle exercises in the evening. It may help you feel less stiff in the morning
- When you are sitting down, or in the same position for a while, correct your posture and move around by taking mini-breaks
- Keep moving! It's important to keep your muscles strong and your balance good
- Manage your weight - having a healthy weight puts minimal pressure on your joints and makes movement easier to achieve
- Avoid smoking
- Ask family members or friends for help with tasks that are quite physical or repetitive
- Balance activity with rest - it's good to listen to your body if it needs a break!
- Stay positive!
- Apply a heat pack to areas if it feels soothing
- Manage your stress. Give meditation a go!
- Make sure you get enough sleep every night
- Eat well: Avoiding or reducing caffeine and alcohol can help. Choosing good foods such as vegetables, fruits and protein sources are recommended.
Just because you have arthritis does not mean you have to cope alone. A multi-disciplinary approach can work well for many people. Osteopaths can discuss your management plan with your GP, your exercise personnel, your dietitian or your podiatrist. We embrace the importance of having good communication between health professionals for all our patients, but it is particularly important for those with chronic conditions like arthritis.
Call us today for further information or bookings. 03 9783 9041.