Stiffness, Arthritis & Joint Pain

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Common forms of arthritis:


Osteoarthritis (OA)

Osteoarthritis (OA) is due to wear and tear in the joints. This can lead to inflammation, damage to the joints, bony spurs around the joint and destruction of the ligaments and tendons. Common
areas that are affected are hips, knees, big toe and fingers. Patients often experience morning stiffness. The pain can be worse with certain activities, then develop to more chronic later in life.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

This is an autoimmune disorder that causes pain and swelling within the joints. This leads to inflammation and destruction of joints. RA commonly affects small joints in the hands and feet,
but can also affect the hips and neck. Common signs and symptoms include pain in joint which can be tender to touch, stiffness especially in the morning and swelling. The joints on both sides are equally effected (symetrica presentation).


Osteopathic treatment can help with the management of arthritic conditions. Treatment will involve soft tissue techniques, joint mobilisation and stretching to encourage and maintain movement in the joint, promote blood flow to the area and help decrease the swelling. We will also provide exercises to help strengthen and stretch the areas and offer advice regarding lifestyle factors.

Reference:Arthritis Victoria. (2014). Retrieved from

Frozen shoulder (Adhesive capsulitis)

What is it?

Adhesive capsulitis is due to inflammation and fibrous adhesions that cause pain and stiffness in the shoulder. It often occurs between the age of 40-60 years. Stiffness in the shoulder joint may occur spontaneously or may occur following trauma (fracture or surgery).

There are three stages associated with adhesive capsulitis. There are:

  • Freezing: Presents with intense pain followed by loss of movement in the shoulder
  • Frozen: There is less pain present, no further loss of movement in shoulder capsule
  • Thawing: Range of motion is slowly restored. Evidence of weakness in the shoulder


The cause of adhesive capsulitis is not well understood. It may be a very frustrating time so consultation with your health providers to help you manage your shoulder is important.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Unable to place your arm behind your back (i.e. to tie your bra up or tuck in your shirt)
  • Difficulty sleeping on the affected shoulder
  • Unable to elevate your arm above your head
  • Pain present in the shoulder


Osteopathic treatment may help with the pain and stiffness associated with adhesive capsulitis. Treatment may incorporate shoulder mobilisation techniques, soft tissue therapy, dry needling, taping and stretching. As osteopaths we will examine other parts of the body to also treat areas that are under stress and often prescribe exercises to encourage movement in the shoulder and help restore function.

Brukner, P., & Khan, K. (2008). Clinical Sports Medicine (3rd ed.). Mc Graw Hill Australia Pty Ltd.Frozen shoulder. (2015). Retrieved from R.C., & Prohaska D. (2008). Diagnosis and management of adhesive capsulitis. NCIB. 1 (34). 180-189

Carpal tunnel syndrome

What is it?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is where the median nerve becomes entrapped as it travels through the carpal tunnel alongside other tendons. Carpal tunnel is a passage in the wrist that allows structures to pass through. The median nerve gives sensation the thumb, index finger, middle finger and a portion of the ring finger.


Signs and symptoms:

  • Burning wrist pain
  • Numbness or tinging in the thumb, index finger, middle finger and a portion of the ring finger
  • Pain can radiate up into the forearm, elbow and shoulder
  • Weakness in the hand


Some causes of carpal tunnel syndrome include pregnancy (due to fluid retention), congenital factors (some people may be born with a narrow carpal tunnel, increasing the risk of nerve impingement), arthritis and overuse injuries.


It is important to rest the affected hand from repetitive work load. The use of splints may be helpful at night. Manual therapy such as osteopathy may help address the symptoms associated
with carpal tunnel syndrome.

References:Carpal tunnel syndrome. (2015). Retrieved from