This article is written by Chris Reeves and is taken from the current issue of Great Health Guide (May 2016 – issue 11).
Great Health: Prevention and Treatment of Arthritis written by Chris Reeves
What exactly is Arthritis? Arthritis is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints. Age is the strongest predictor of the disease, particularly for osteoarthritis, therefore increasing age and extended life expectancy will result in a greater occurrence of the disease.
The symptoms of arthritis are pain and swelling in the joints and surrounding tissues. This is often accompanied by stiffness and decreased movement.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis and is considered a form of degenerative joint disease, i.e. an issue of ‘wear and tear’. The other common types of arthritis can include rheumatoid (RA), psoriatic and septic arthritis. These can be linked to an auto-immune disorder or infection within the joint.
Options vary depending on the type of arthritis but may be divided into 3 categories:
1. Pharmacological: Includes control of pain and improvement in function and quality of life, while limiting drug toxicity. For OA, medications such as paracetamol (Panadol osteo) may be indicated. For RA and other inflammatory types, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) such as ibuprofen may be prescribed. In more severe cases, a category of drugs called disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS) may be administered (e.g. Methotrexate).
2. Non-pharmacological: Physical therapy such as osteopathy, lifestyle modification such as weight loss and a tailored exercise program and orthopaedic bracing can all be considered.
3. Surgical intervention: This Is generally reserved for failed medical management where functional disability affects a person’s quality of life.
Osteopathic treatment may be able to provide manual treatment techniques such as soft tissue massage and passive joint articulation, which may reduce muscle spasm surrounding the joint and improve blood flow and nutrition to and within the affected joint/s. An osteopath will also be able to formulate an appropriate exercise/mobility regime, aimed to optimise quality joint movement and body function.
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There is no cure for arthritis, but here are some management ploys that may curb the severity and/or onset of arthritis:
1. See your GP or physical therapist for advice
2. Keep active and eat a well-balanced diet
3. A diet aimed at maintaining an ideal body weight is recommended
4. Exercise has proven to keep your joints and muscles healthy and flexible
5. There is a poor quality of independent evidence to support the use of joint supplements such as glucosamine sulphate, however, anecdotally some people have reported either relief or reduction in their arthritic symptoms.
Author of this article:
Chris Reeves is the founder/Director of Parkdale Osteopathic Clinic and has been providing osteopathic care for the bayside community in Melbourne Victoria over the past 12 years. He has also previously worked as a supervising clinician at the Vic University Osteopathic Medical Clinic, a position he held for 5 years. Further information is available from our website.
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