What is arthritis?
Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that effects the joints in your body. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint stiffness and pain which typically worsens with age. Arthritis is a degenerative condition where the inflammation causes damage to occur within the joint, so trying to switch this process off as soon as possible is extremely beneficial. Arthritis is a very common and painful condition that can impact severely on your quality of life.
So what causes arthritis?
There are two types of arthritic conditions, the most common being osteoarthritis which occurs when the protective cartilage within your joints starts to break down. Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, but it is more common in the large weight bearing joints such as the ankle, knee, hip and lower back. This condition usually worsens with time. Osteoarthritis typically occurs from use of the joints and is common in people who played a lot of sport or worked physical jobs. Following injury to a joint, such as a sprain or fracture, osteoarthritis is more likely to develop over the next ten years. Being overweight is another cause of osteoarthritis as the excess weight carried across the joints overloads the tissue, leading to tissue breakdown.
The second type of arthritis is auto-immune arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. This condition occurs when the body fails to recognise its own tissue and the immune cells start to attack your own body tissue leading to tissue damage and inflammation. The synovial lining of your joints is usually targeted first, leading to painful, hot swollen joints. Auto-immune arthritis can be a genetic condition, so asking family members about their history can help with a diagnosis. Auto-immune arthritis is typically treated under a rheumatologist and managed with medication and physiotherapy treatment.
What can Physiotherapy do?
Physiotherapists are specially trained in the assessment and treatment of arthritic conditions. Firstly, we perform an assessment and then formulate a treatment plan aimed at reducing your pain and working on preventative strategies to minimise further tissue damage.
Getting rid of pain and inflammation as quickly as possible is of high priority. By reducing your pain quickly, this will allow you to keep moving and allow for better rehabilitation. We use a variety of techniques to reduce pain including massage, manual therapy and dry needling. Laser therapy is also a highly effective method in alleviated deep-seated pain across painful joints, including the lower back and can be used safely at your first appointment.
So what is Laser Therapy?
Laser therapy is the use of a handheld treatment unit that delivers “light therapy” into your tissue, setting in motion chemical reactions that speed up tissue healing, reduce inflammation and lowers pain levels. We use a Class IV deep tissue laser that allows for optimal depth in penetration of the laser energy through the layers of the skin and deep into the muscles and joints beneath. This allows for a fast-acting treatment directly to the affected tissues that would otherwise be untouched. When the laser is applied to the skin, the patient generally feels a gently comforting warmth and the treatment is totally pain-free, non-invasive and can be performed rapidly. The heat from the laser promotes blood flow and can increase circulation in the target tissue by up to 500%.
So how do I slow down my arthritis?
So as the pain begins to settle, your joints should also start to feel less stiff and you should be able to move more readily and get back to the things you love. Preventing further outbreaks of inflammation and pain is of high priority in our treatment. Exercise therapy is one of the most important ways of managing arthritis. Strengthening the large muscles of your body is an excellent way in reducing stress across the joints and can help slow down the rate of tissue degeneration. Strengthening also is a good way at increasing your metabolic rate and can help in weight reduction which is essential for joint preservation. We definitely promote movement and exercise and try to align our treatment programmes with the things you love to do, be it tennis, swimming or horse riding.