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Arthritis - Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints.

“Arth” means joint and “itis” means inflammation so arthritis really means inflammation of the joints.

Any joint in the body can be affected, but depending on the type of  arthritis present, different joints can be affected.

Arthritis can affect both men, women and children, and depending on the type of the arthritis, can occur at all ages.

What are the common types of arthritis?

There are many different types of arthritis. The most commonly talked about or known types are

  • Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Juvenile Arthritis
  • Gout
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus)
  • Psoariatic Arthritis
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis

What are the early signs of arthritis?

Signs of arthritis include:

  • Joint stiffness after periods of inactivity or over activity
  • Joint pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Joint crepitus
  • Joints that are hot, tender and swollen
  • Muscle spasm associated with joint pain and inflammation

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis that causes pain, inflammation and stiffness in the joints and surrounding musculature.  It is an autoimmune disease where your immune system actually causes the damage to your joints and the associated tissues by mistake. It most affects females more than males and commonly presents in people 30-60 years old.

What joints does Rheumatoid Arthritis commonly affect?

  • Hands
  • Knees
  • Feet
  • It usually affects joints on both sides of the body

What are the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

  • Symptoms can vary from person to person and can change on daily basis
  • Symptoms can flare up or down for no apparent reason, as well as be increased with periods of stress, fatigue, and poor dietary choices
  • Symptoms include:
    • Pain, swelling and heat in the joints
    • Joint stiffness – most commonly in the morning or after a period of inactivity or over activity
    • Fatigue – both physical and mental due to pain and chronic nature of the disease
    • Joints on both sides of the body are commonly affected

Can Rheumatoid Arthritis be cured?

No unfortunately it cannot be cured as it is a chronic autoimmune disease.

What are the Management Strategies to help Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Management strategies to help control the damage to the joints and surrounding muscles can include:

  • Medication prescribed and advised by your Rheumatologist or GP such as
    • Pain relief medication such as paracetamol or NSAIDs
    • Anti-Inflammatory Medication such as Corticosteroids which can be given by injection or taken orally
    • Medication to control your over active immune system
    • Medication to control and modify your immune system
  • Hands on treatment like Osteopathy for local muscle and joint relief, as well as education on exercise, rehabilitation, and movement techniques
  • Movement and Exercise is so important for joint mobility, muscle flexibility and strength. Great exercises to do include:
    • Walking
    • Cycling
    • Pilates
    • Swimming
    • Hydrotherapy
    • Tai chi
    • Feldenkrais
    • Lifting of Light Weights (prescribed by your Osteo, PT, Physio or OT)
  • Natural supplements such as Fish oils, Magnesium and Tumeric to decrease inflammation and muscle spasm
  • REST! Helps manage the fatigue – both physical and mental, as well as helps manage the pain and can give you symptomatic relief
  • Meditation or relaxation techniques for pain management
  • See a psychologist to help with overall mental health and how having a chronic disease associated with pain may be affecting your life

Osteoarthritis, also known as Degenerative Joint Disease

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis affecting both men and women, most often in people 40 years and older, however it can affect younger people too.

Osteoarthritis is known as the arthritis of “wear and tear” and “degeneration” of the joints themselves.

What are the common symptoms of OA?

  • Joint stiffness
  • Joint pain
  • Joint inflammation and swelling
  • Joint crepitus or a rubbing and gringing feeling
  • Muscle spasm and weakness
  • Usually occurs on one side of the body

What are the common causes of OA?

  • Being overweight
  • Having a family history of OA
  • Having a previous trauma, damage or overuse of a joint or several joints
  • Being over 40

What is the treatment for OA?

  • Exercise and rehabilitation exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Medications for pain relief and inflammation
  • Hands on treatment such as Osteopathy for local pain relief of joints and muscles
  • Use of heat or ice packs
  • Natural supplements such as Magnesium, Fish oils and Tumeric,

As well as hands on treatment that your osteopath will perform, a specific and tailored exercise and rehabilitation program will be designed for you to help with pain management. This will help ease pain and stiffness in the affected muscles and joints, as well as help improve your posture and balance.

If you are looking for a Melbourne Osteopath or an Osteopathic Clinic in South Melbourne or any of the surrounding suburbs like Elwood, Prahran, Middle Park, St. Kilda East, Caulfield or Melbourne CBD; see us today to learn how we may be able to help you.