I’ve had arthritis for years, can you help?
Osteo-Arthritis (OA) describes the changes that occur in the joint when the cartilage becomes thinner and the bone is sometimes exposed to wear and tear. This often affects the weight bearing joints such as the hips, knees and lower back, but may occur anywhere. This condition is often relieved by low doses of pain-killers and sometimes anti-inflammatory medicine.
The loss of internal cushioning in the joint generally makes it more painful to use, and if the muscles around the joint are not used, it will weaken the joint further and make it more vulnerable to further damage. It is generally considered good practice to try to maintain a reasonable level of activity whilst avoid over fatigue of the muscles or excessive strain such as heavy carrying.
Simple exercise to strengthen the muscles such as Pilates, T’ai Chi and aqua fit or gentle swimming are all likely to be of benefit. Occasional treatment to try to relieve any muscle tension and stretch the joints passively through their range is also likely to be helpful.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a different kind of condition also affecting the joints but not caused by wear and tear but by the body’s own biochemistry. It is generally treated with a combination of medications and sometimes with specialist physical therapy.