Osteoarthritis is a common degenerative joint condition caused by a mechanical wear-and-tear, which most commonly affects the knees, hips, hands and spine. Damage to cartilage and the exposed bone beneath can cause joint pain and stiffness, especially first thing in the morning, after exercise, or after periods of inactivity.
Primary osteoarthritis comes on with age although not everybody is affected, and it can be linked genetically. Secondary osteoarthritis is linked to a specific cause such as past injury to a joint or obesity.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the 2nd most common type of arthritis in the UK. As it is systemic, it affects multiple joints, especially the hands, knees, hips, and neck and can leave the patient feeling ‘one degree under’. It is characterised by inflammation of the synovial joint lining and erosion of joint surfaces, causing redness, heat, swelling, pain and multiple joint stiffness.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an ‘auto-immune’ condition, meaning the body’s own immune system is attacking its own tissues instead of germs or viruses. Although it can be severe, effective management of the condition minimises symptoms so normal lifestyle can be resumed!
Other autoimmune conditions affecting joints include ankylosing spondylitis, which mainly affects the spine, reactive arthritis, which can come on following a virus/infection, psoriatic arthritis, associated with psoriasis, and enteropathic arthritis which is associated with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis). Although a formal diagnosis requires tests undertaken via your GP, alternative therapists can offer effective treatments to reduce symptoms and improve well-being.
Traditional Treatments for Arthritis
People who suffer from Arthritis often have to deal with pain as well as stiffness. This can cause depression or at least a low mood.
This gentle treatment on the feet may help to reduce the inflammation, stiffness and pain of Arthritis. It may also be valuable in lifting a low mood. When combined with Dr. Bach Flower Remedies, the relief seems to be greater and patients seem to be able to cope with life more easily.
Acupuncture has long been used for the support of people with arthritic and rheumatic symptoms.
Acupuncture is part of a comprehensive system of medicine which has been used over many years by people for a broad range of symptoms and conditions, both acute and chronic. Acupuncture treatments are directed at both reducing symptoms and also resolving the underlying imbalance for a more lasting effect.
Chinese Medicine (of which acupuncture is a part) has its own additional diagnostic system through which to understand the signs and symptoms, and together with a western understanding of disease enables the Acupuncturist to provide a truly individual treatment. The effects of and symptoms related to cold, heat, dampness ,wind, overuse and trauma are all considered within this whole picture.
Acupuncture can be used alongside conventional medicine and is suitable for people of all ages, including women in pregnancy.
Research fact sheets about back pain, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and many more conditions can be found on the British Acupuncture Council website research sectionwww.acupuncture.org.uk
Remedial massage can help to relieve the discomfort caused by arthritis by easing the tension in muscles around the affected joints.
By gently mobilizing and exercising the joint to encourage a better range of movement, massage promotes the production of the fluid that lubricates the joints, helping you to be more comfortable.
Some studies have been done on how massage can help to manage this painful condition. Please have a look at the information collated by The Touch Institute at
Here you will find summaries of studies which suggest massage can be effective in easing many conditions.
Osteopathy can be used to effectively treat osteoarthritis and rheumatic pain. When joints become irritated and inflamed, surrounding tissues become sensitised and muscles tighten up too. We begin to use our body in a different way in order to compensate for the dysfunctional joint(s) and avoid pain.
This places increased demand on surrounding joints and muscles, so in time, the biomechanics of the whole body becomes disturbed.
Using soft-tissue massage and manipulation which are tailored to the individual, techniques are used to release tension and reduce the strain on affected joints. This improves mobility, circulation, and nutrition to the area, which results in improved function and health.
Osteopathy can provide relief both locally around an affected arthritic joint as well as on a whole-body level, so postural bad-habits can be redressed.