Many of our patients bring in x-rays or MRIs showing ‘wear and tear’ or ‘degenerative changes’ in one or more of their joints.
Usually this means they have osteoarthritis. It shouldn’t be a scary word though, because arthritis is actually a normal part of the ageing process, affecting all of us to some degree as we get older.
Research shows that manual therapy such as osteopathy can relieve pain, increase flexibility and improve quality of life for people with osteoarthritis. This is reflected in NHS guidelines which recommend manual therapy (stretching and manipulation), alongside exercise, weight loss and pain meds to manage symptoms.
So, there are many things people can try before considering surgical options!
Before we continue, it is important to differentiate between osteoarthritis (commonly shortened to ‘arthritis’) and other inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid, psoriatic or reactive arthritis.
In this post we will only be discussing osteopathic treatment specifically for osteoarthritis.
How can osteopathy help?
An osteopath will release muscle tension around the affected joint, improve the range of movement and encourage better joint health by promoting blood and lymph flow to and from the area. This will reduce pain and inflammation whilst also increasing flexibility.
In addition, an osteopath will work to optimise the function of related areas of the body, to ensure that movement and loading is distributed as evenly as possible.
Osteopaths can use a variety of techniques to achieve this, depending on the individual’s situation. These include gentle articulation, massage, stretch and joint mobilisation. We will also be able to advise on strengthening and stretching exercises to do at home.