Arthritis is a general term used to describe inflammation of one or multiple joints in the body. There are over 100 different types of Arthritis and associated conditions. Arthritis can be sub-grouped into 4 main categories;
- Degenerative – such as Osteoarthritis.
- Inflammatory – such as Rheumatoid, Psoriatic, Ankylosing Spondylitis.
- Infectious – where a bacteria, virus or fungus infects the joint.
- Metabolic – such as Gout
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of Arthritis, affecting over 8 million people in the UK and is due to degeneration of the cartilage that protects the ends of the bones. The body will try to protect the joint by making changes to the surrounding tissue including; extra bone growth known commonly as “spurs”, supporting ligaments thicken and the Synovium (inner layer of the joint capsule) thickens and produces more fluid. The effect is reduced range of movement, increased joint stiffness, pain and swelling which all affect function. Previous injuries to joints can lead to Osteoarthritic changes, but other risk factors include; older age, sex (more common in females), obesity, family history, certain occupations or sports which require repetitive actions or heavy lifting and congenital deformities (present since birth).
Inflammatory Arthritis covers a range of conditions that are caused by the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacking healthy cells in the joints. As they are systemic (whole body), auto-immune conditions can affect other organs and cause other problems such as skin rashes and eye conditions. Rheumatoid Arthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis are examples of inflammatory Arthritis and are characterised by stiffness, pain, swelling, tenderness and heat in one or more joints.
Diagnosis and Treatment
It is very important to establish what type of Arthritis you have as Inflammatory, Infectious and Metabolic Arthritis all need to be treated quickly with the correct medication to limit damage to the joints. If you suspect you have one of these types of Arthritis it is recommended that you see your GP as soon as possible so they can run a series of blood tests and other investigations to determine the nature of the Arthritis and ensure the correct medications and treatments are prescribed.
Osteoarthritis is typically managed with pain-relieving medications and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which can be bought over the counter or prescribed by your GP. Injection therapy or surgery may be required in severe cases of Arthritis where the pain is unmanageable or having a significant impact on day-to-day living.
There are many benefits of Physiotherapy for Arthritis including; a programme of specific exercises, advice on increasing your activity level safely and without injury, gait re-education if appropriate and administering pain relieving treatments such as heat/ice, TENS, ultrasound, taping, massage, joint mobilisations and acupuncture.
For more details about some of the more common Arthritis conditions please click on the name of the condition below.
- Osteoarthritis of the Big Toe
- Osteoarthritis of the Hip
- Osteoarthritis of the Knee
- Osteoarthritis of the Thumb
At Metro Physio we treat a large number of people with Arthritis and are therefore very knowledgeable in this field. Our treatments are based upon your individual presentation of symptoms and we aim to treat you holistically to ensure the best outcomes.
If you are unsure which condition you have and whether physiotherapy can help you, or you would just like to speak to somebody about your condition then please use the link below;