What is Arthritis?

As we embark on Arthritis Awareness week, we are going to be providing you with articles about Arthritis and Arthritis care.
We hope you find them informative, beginning with the first of this weeks below.

Arthritis comes from the Greek Arthro, which means joint, and Itis, which means inflammation. Arthritis is a form of joint disorder which causes pain and inflammation of one or more joints. there are over 100 different kinds of arthritis but the most common kind is Osteoarthritis, affecting nearly 8.5million people in the UK. This a form of degenerative joint disease which is brought on by trauma to the joint, i.e. a fall on the hip, infection of the joint and age. 

 

At a joint, you have two bones connecting, and between those two bones you have cartilage. Now, cartilage is the connective tissue which prevents the bones rubbing together and causing pain. Those who have arthritis, the cartilage between their joints has gradually wasted away leaving them with bone-on-bone rubbing. The joints most affecting by this are those of the hands, spine, knees and hips. You are more likely to develop this around your 50’s, however it can develop at any time if you have an injury or any other joint related condition. It can also develop in children, around 12,000 children under 16 years suffer from arthritis in the UK alone. Childhood Arthritis is normally referred to as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, or JIA, which can last for at least 6 weeks. As the child grows and develops more the symptoms get better and, in most cases, the child will grow out of it. 

 

People who suffer from arthritis complain mostly about joint pain. The pain is often constant and normally the pain is only felt round about the affect joint area. This pain is due to inflammation around the joint, damage to the joint caused by disease, daily wear-and-tear of the joint, forced movements of the affected joints and fatigue. Those who suffer from this often find it very difficult to stay physically active and often end up house bound.

 

There are many different symptoms of arthritis and the symptoms will differ depending on which form of arthritis you have. However, there are more common symptoms that apply to most forms. These include:

 

  • joint pain
  • tenderness, in the affected area
  • stiffness
  • inflammation, in and around the joint
  • restricted movements of the joints
  • warmth and redness of the skin over the affected joint
  • weakness
  • muscle wasting 

 

If you are suffering from advanced arthritis you may become less mobile which can lead to further symptoms:

 

  • Feelings of tiredness
  • loss of flexibility
  • decreased fitness
  • poor sleep

 

Nowadays, Arthritis is one of the most common causes of disability in the UK and around 10million (that’s 15.72% of the UK population!) people suffer from arthritis. At this time, there is no cure for Arthritis but there are many treatments available to help manage the condition and relieve some of the pain. Medication is available, and in more severe cases surgery may be required, but massage is a widely known way to help reduce pain, relieve tension or pressure on the affected joints and even slow down the conditions progress. 

Massage can help Arthritis sufferers by loosening up the joints, it breaks up adhesions within the muscles and ligaments (these tend to slow and prevent certain movements). Also gentle joint stretching can actually stimulate the production of Synovial Fluid, which can cushion the joint, helping to reduce inflammation and pain. 

Like all treatments, one session will give you some relief but it will need to be an ongoing treatment to see prolonged results. To begin with, you will need massages more frequently, roughly once a week (depending on how bad the case is) for about 4 weeks. After that it will go down to once every 4-6 weeks for maintenance.

 

A study done by Tiffany Field, PhD and Director of The Touch Research Institute, shows that regular massaging of the muscles, either by a licensed therapist or self massage at home, can lead to significant decrease in pain in people with arthritis. In  the study, results showed that regular use of massage led to improvements in pain, stiffness, range of motion, hand grip, strength and overall function of the joints. 

 

Everyones goals are different with massage, some people want to relieve stress or anxiety where as other may be in to reduce the pain and stiffness, so always talk openly with your therapist and let them know what you want.  A full consultation is done at the start of every session and depending on how you are feeling and the symptoms you are getting, the therapist will adapt the treatment to suit your needs. As the pain can become unbearable at times, always remember to let your therapist know if you do experience any pain during your session. If it hurts, Do Not Do It! You should not experience pain during a massage. Massage is designed to reduce pain, not make it worse. So always ensure you are honest with the therapist, let them know your goals from the treatment and most of all, Enjoy it. 

 

 If you are interested in trying out the many different types of massage to ease your symptoms, please feel free to visit the clinic or give us a call. We will do our best to ensure your time here is thoroughly enjoyable! 

For very appointment scheduled this week we will be donating £5 to Arthritis Care Scotland, so please help us with our fundraising attempts by booking an appointment, just call 01506 238366 and we'll do our best to accomodate your needs.