Arthritis is a disease characterised by inflammation of the joints. It can affect one or multiple joints throughout the body and the pain associated with it is often uninterrupted. Although there are over 100 different types of arthritis, the most prevalent form is ‘Osteoarthritis’, which is most commonly diagnosed in older members of the population.
Movement Training (see our movement fitness programmes and soft tissue manipulation) can generally help those suffering from arthritis.
Many sufferers of arthritis experience joint swelling, particularly in the knuckles
Did you know?
Current trends suggest that, by 2050, 7 million Australians will suffer from some form of arthritis.
source: Arthritis Australia
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is caused by the degeneration and breakdown of cartilage in the joint, resulting in the bones rubbing against each other. The pain experienced by those with osteoarthritis often begins as moderate, gradually increasing as the condition worsens. Cartilage does not have a blood supply and therefore cannot heal itself in the same way that other connective tissues do, making this form of arthritis particularly debilitating.
Although usually associated with the elderly, arthritis can affect people of all ages, including children. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) has been diagnosed in children as young as 6 months old and its cause is unknown.
A less common, but particularly aggressive form of arthritis is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), which is a condition in which the body’s immune system begins to attack itself. People with RA often experience joint damage which can lead to deformity if left untreated. It usually occurs in the smaller joints such as fingers, hands, wrists and feet, but there have been cases where the knees and hip has been affected.
Common types of arthritis include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Septic arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus)
- Gouty arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
- Still’s disease
These arthritics issues are likely to be co-treated with medications and/or supplements. It is quite advisable to co-manage these conditions with an integrative medical practitioner – treatments like movement training can help to ease some of the symptoms of arthritis.
Causes of arthritis
Although there is no known cause of arthritis, we are learning more and more about what factors may contribute to its development. These include:
- Infection of the joint
- Gender (60% of sufferers are women)
- Undue stress on a joint
Symptoms of arthritis
People with arthritis often report the following symptoms:
- Joint pain
- Muscle aches and pain
- Weight loss
- Interrupted sleep
- Redness and swelling (around the affected joint)
Top tips for managing the symptoms of arthritis
- maintaining a healthy diet
- staying active and exercising regularly
- keeping well hydrated
- avoiding activities which cause pain
- engaging in physical therapies
- prescribed medications
- seeking emotional support when necessary
- water exercise
Effective treatment of arthritis
At this point in time there is no cure for osteoarthritis or RA. However sufferers can find relief in a variety of treatments, which include physical therapies such as massage, acupuncture, movement training, soft tissue manipulation, some medications, alternative medicines or in severe cases, surgery.
This page has been produced, reviewed and approved by:
Dr Shermain Wong
BAppSc (Chiropractic), Masters (Clinical Chiropractic)
Dr Shermain Wong is a chiropractor at Jurmaine Health with expertise in general treatment and over 6 years experience.
With a Masters in Clinical Chiropractic from RMIT University, Shermain has provided chiropractic and movement rehabilitation services at international sporting competitions, professional dancers, professional football players and professional athletes.
At Jurmaine Health, she helps patients address and treat common musculoskeletal symptoms and conditions, including back pain, neck pain; shoulder pain; nerve pain, joint pain and many other conditions
She is a member of Sport Medicine Australia, College of Osteopathy and Chiropractic Association, Australian Association of Musculoskeletal Medicine and International Society of Clinical Rehabilitation Specialists.
With her experience in Sports Medicine and treating Sports Injuries, she is a sought after expert for professional athletes and sports clubs. She has worked with the Coburg Lions VFL club, Melbourne Ice Hockey Women, World Ironman Championships, Australia CrossFit Regionals and others.
This document was last updated and reviewed in May 2016.