What is Arthritis?
Broadly, arthritis may be divided into two types - degenerative and inflammatory. Degenerative or OSTEOARTHRITIS is the commonest form, sometimes called 'wear and tear' and is usually localised to a specific site such as the hips, knees or spine. Its classic features of pain, stiffness and restricted mobility may often be eased and improved with skilled osteopathic treatment. Inflammatory arthritis such as RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS is generally a systemic disease affecting not just joints but the whole body. Like osteoarthritis it produces severe pain, stiffness and often deformity. Osteopathy may be helpful in addition to medication.
You don't necessarily have to live with any of these.
- Neck pain
- Low back pain
- Hip pain
- Early morning stiffness
- Lack of mobility
Osteopaths treat patients with arthritis every day. You may not have to put up with your pain. Osteopaths can advise on good posture and can help you with treatment and advise on self help. Osteopaths are highly skilled practitioners.
Osteopathic treatment can do a great deal to reduce pain, ease swelling and improve mobility and range of joint movement. There are many popular misconceptions about arthritis. For example: 'Degenerative change on x-rays means that nothing can be done. Pain killers or anti-inflammatories are the only answer'.
In fact, joint wear and tear is normal after the age of 35 and joint degeneration is not equivalent to pain. The osteopath may well require x-rays, blood tests or even MRI scans to assess the extent of your condition. Treatment is not painful and often, symptom relief begins immediately.
Treatment is aimed at improving mobility and reducing inflammation by using gentle, manual osteopathic techniques on joints, muscles and ligaments. You will be given positive advice related to your lifestyle about how you use your body. Age is no barrier to osteopathy since each patient is considered individually and treatment is gentle. You may also be given advice about your diet, which in some people may be a factor in their arthritis.
Exercises to do at home may also be prescribed to improve joint function and to reduce muscle spasm. Exercise in warm water or salt baths may also be recommended. Osteopathy is not a cure-all and there are situations when surgery may be necessary - such as hip replacement when you will be referred to a specialist via your GP. However, osteopathy can help with rehabilitation after surgery.
When you visit an osteopath for the first time a full case history will be taken and you will be given an examination. You will normally be asked to remove some of your clothing and to perform a simple series of movements. The osteopath will then use a highly developed sense of touch, called palpation, to identify any points of weakness or excessive strain throughout the body. The osteopath may need additional investigations such as x-ray or blood tests. This will allow a full diagnosis and suitable treatment plan to be developed with you.
Osteopathy is patient centred, which means the treatment is geared to you as an individual. Most people consult an osteopath privately. Many private health insurance schemes give benefit for osteopathic treatment. Some companies will reimburse the total fee that you have paid to the osteopath, some only a percentage. Most companies require a GP or specialist referral.