Arthritis

Arthritis

Download our leaflet on Arthritis

WHAT IS ARTHRITIS?

Despite being very common, arthritis is still very poorly understood and many conflicting views exist with regard to the cause and treatment of the over 100 arthritic conditions.

ARTHRITIS CAN BE DIVIDED INTO TWO MAIN TYPES:

Degenerative or OSTEOARTHRITIS is the most common form of arthritis and is usually localised to specific sites such as the hip, back or knees. It affects weight-bearing synovial joints, mostly. Synovial joints constitute most of the joints of your body and need to be kept moving to keep the articulating surfaces moist. An egg-white kind of gel is secreted by the lining of the joint with movement (including massage). When this gel ceases to be secreted, then the joint becomes drier and drier and in the end, the bones fuse a bit like a rusty door.

Osteoarthritis is most common type of arthritis and is also referred to as degenerative and ‘wear and tear’ though this is controversial. OA is a disease of the joint cartilage associated with secondary changes in the underlying bone

We all have this form to a greater or lesser degree as we age. There are genetic factors, which means that some people are more likely to suffer from severe forms. If the main structure of the body is not as it should be, causing one side of a joint to be used more than the other, then OA is more likely to occur. There are also very important nutritional influences to consider.

The articular cartilage softens and starts to disintegrate so that the surfaces are rough. This then leads to further degeneration with associated muscle spasm and loss of movement.

There can be bone spur formation. It is non-inflammatory and primarily effects weight-bearing joints, usually at one side. The phalangeal joints can also be affected and ‘Herbenden’s nodes’ are a feature. There may be acute episodes when secondary inflammation occurs. The signs and symptoms include pain in the joint especially with movement or weight-bearing. It is usually relieved by rest (which causes stiffness). Pain is usually from muscle spasm and pressure on nerves.

Prevention is the name of the game and massage has an important role in keeping muscles as flexible as possible thus maintaining mobility and balance in joints.

Massage can help healing post op should joint replacement be necessary.

Inflammatory Arthritis such as RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS (RA) not only produces painful, swollen and restricted joints but is a systemic disease which affects the whole body so signs and symptoms can affect other organs e.g. eyes, lungs, heart. It is an auto-immune disease and   more difficult to treat as the body is attacking itself. The joint lining becomes inflamed and forms a scarlike piece of tissue in the joint. It usually affects bilaterally e.g. both hands, both wrists.

RA is much more serious as it is a systemic, auto-immune disease, where the body attacks itself destroying the synovial lining of joints. Most commonly, it affects the non-weight bearing joints, e.g. fingers and wrists, affecting both sides. The progression of the disease includes destruction of ligaments, erosion of bone and deformity. The disease has remissions and acute phases. If someone complains of joint pain and also has a fever, they should be referred for medical advice. RA is often accompanied by other pathologies, e.g. eyes, bowels.

However, the pain from the inevitable muscle spasm can be relieved with Remedial Massage and articulating techniques.

Massage has an important role in between acute episodes, which may become less frequent if a massage programme is undertaken.

Arthritic conditions are commonly seen and treated effectively with Massage Therapies. Swedish and Remedial Massage help so much in keeping the joints moving which is what we need to ‘oil’ the joint.

Bodywork also encourages the body to release its own pharmacy of anti-inflammatories and feel good hormones. Changes to diet and lifestyle may also be necessary.

Many people are told ‘learn to live with it’ and though the damage may be irreversible, pain and swelling CAN be reduced and movement then becomes easier. As a result there is less reliance on drugs and consequently fewer problems.

Treatment is aimed at getting the best out of the affected areas by improving their mobility. Associated joints and tissues will also require treatment so they can take the extra strain and compensate for the damaged joint(s) so maintaining overall mobility and health.

WHAT CAN WE DO AT BROOKS-CARTER CLINIC?

Remedial and Sports Massage addresses muscle imbalances, which occur when the body is continually fixed in one position (poor posture) or involved in repetitive actions – golf, tennis, piano playing, computer work, lifting, driving etc.

Remedial Massage is a treatment that can be applied specifically to help prevent an injury or the recurrence of a past injury as well as treating the injury itself.

Advanced Remedial Massage Therapists have more skills and training and they add Muscle Energy Techniques. Positional Release, Impact Therapy and more deep soft tissue work to their Remedial Massage toolbox. The aim is to bring the body into balance using specific positioning and the Client’s muscles to bring the body into balance, gently and effectively.

Advanced Remedial and Sports Massage therapists treat and educate on management techniques for back and neck pain, headaches, referred pain, overuse injuries and postural complaints.

Reflexology helps the body to heal itself. Following illness, stress, injury or disease, the body is in a state of "imbalance", and vital energy pathways are blocked, preventing the body from functioning effectively. Reflexology can be used to restore and maintain the body's natural equilibrium and encourage healing.

Organs and body parts are represented on specific points on the feet thus problem areas can be treated/worked. Relaxation benefits are to be experienced!

Swedish Massage is a wonderful tool not only to improve circulation (moving unwanted waste products into the circulation so new healing oxygenated blood can reach problem areas), relaxation and general health but also to ease pain.

Massage Therapists want your body to work like a fine tuned engine with the minimum of wear, tear, stress and energy, leaving more energy available for living!

A Massage Therapy session can be ‘custom built’ for all ages.

All these therapies work well alongside orthodox medicine as well as on their own.

THERAPY OPTIONS AVAILABLE FOR THIS CONDITION AT BROOKS-CARTER CLINIC