What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation of the joints. Around 10 million people have some form of arthritis in the UK. The two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis, once known as degenerative joint disease, is caused by cartilage thinning and breaking down, causing friction and stiffness. It most often develops in adults who are in their late 40s or older. However, it can occur at any age as a result of an injury.
Rheumatoid arthritis is much less common. It’s an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system defence wrongly attacks the joints, causing pain and swelling. Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is primarily GP led and may be managed with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and prescribed medication.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of arthritis vary depending on the type you have, but often include:
- joint pain, tenderness and stiffness
- inflammation in and around the joints
- restricted movement of the joints
- warm, red skin over the joint
- weakness and muscle wasting.
Most types of arthritis have several causes. If there is arthritis in your family, you may be more likely to develop it. However, the symptoms of arthritis can begin suddenly, without any obvious cause, at any age.
Treatment for arthritis
While there is no cure at the moment, there are many different treatments and exercises that aim to slow down the progress of the condition and help improve the quality of life.
Treatments include medication, physical therapies like physiotherapy and, in severe cases, surgery.
Don’t hesitate to seek advice from a health professional if you have a painful or swollen joint that isn’t linked to an injury; or are unable to perform your daily tasks because of stiffness or weakness.
How physiotherapy can help to manage osteoarthritis
For patients with rheumatoid arthritis our physiotherapists can help improve fitness, muscle strength and joint mobility however treatment is primarily GP led.
Physiotherapy can help to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis and improve your ability to carry out everyday activities and move around safely.
Your physiotherapist can help you to understand what happens to your joints and muscles when you have arthritis. Understanding your arthritis will help you to manage its effects.
Arthritis can cause joint stiffness and muscle weakness. Your physiotherapist will assess your muscle strength and the range of movement in your joints, and advise on techniques and exercises so you can keep your joints working as well as possible.
Your physiotherapist can also advise you on ways to relieve pain, and may offer you treatments such as massage or splinting.
Our approach to treating arthritis at The Forge Clinic, Richmond
Our qualified physiotherapists in Richmond have extensive experience treating osteoarthritis. Following a detailed assessment, your tailored treatment options may include:
- massage to help the muscles relax and make joint movement more comfortable
- manipulation to improve the range of movement in your joint and reduce stiffness
- gait analysis and orthotics to help correct posture and movement
- taping to support and relieve swollen or painful joints
- prescribed exercise programmes
- lifestyle advice such as weight management through nutritional therapy
You can find out more about arthritis here.