What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects joints, and common places are in the hand, knee and hips.
It is not necessarily an age-related condition but tends to appear in a physically mature individual, the majority being over the age of 45.
There are risk factors, such as previous trauma, obesity, childhood related joint problem, genetics, posture related conditions and obesity.
A joint is formed by two bones connecting each other, to allow movement. The ends of the bone are covered by a tissue called cartilage, which allows gliding within the joint because of its smooth lining, and it can absorb shock.
In osteoarthritis, this cartilage begins to degenerate, initially causing inflammation, and this causes mild pain, which continues as the cartilage progressively deteriorates, eventually causing a bone to rub against bone within the joint. At this stage, it causes severe pain and stiffness, and occasionally a loss of function.
How is it diagnosed?
The diagnosis is upon consultation and physical examination. The pattern of the symptoms is usually a good indicator.
GP’s often refer people to have an x-ray, this is typically in the view of referral to an orthopaedic team.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis, and successful treatment mainly depends on the severity to the affected joint or joints not necessarily in the view of an x-ray result, but in the view of how well a person is able to function with osteoarthritis to an affected joint.
In an osteopathic view, osteoarthritis causing structural changes, affecting function by a reduction in movements, and therefore reduce fluid dynamics to ensure good healing, and removal of toxins a debris that are a result off and can influence further inflammation and degeneration. And, furthermore, looking at other areas of the body.
Fluid dynamics and improvement of the function is encouraged by osteopathic techniques to the affected joints and other areas of the body influencing the joint.
A good example of treating other areas of the body as well is seen in osteopathy for knee pain. The knee is stuck between a powerful hip joint, and a strong, mobile, stable foot/heel.
Any changes or dysfunction of the foot/heel and hip can influence the knee. And with a knee suffering from osteoarthritis, if the function is not restored within the hip or foot/heel, the knee will continue to degenerate and be limited to any chance of recovery.
Using acupuncture has been shown to reduce pain, providing room for restoring function. And exercise being vital to maintain strength, support and stability. Exercise being crucial, as it is evident in advanced osteoarthritis, muscle wasting is seen, and reduced stability, mainly due to change in joint structure and a reduction in function.
It is important to have a positive mindset, and not let osteoarthritis limit your daily activities and things you enjoy in life. Search for beneficial exercises that you enjoy, ask your osteopath to observe you while walking or riding your bike, as she or he may ask you to change the position of your foot, or make the heels the onus of the movement. The osteopath may look at the angle of your hips and posture of your spine and body. These small adjustments go a long way.