Arthritis and Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)
Arthritis or osteoarthritis, are words which unfortunately scare many people into believing they’re ‘over the hill’, or that there’s little or nothing that can be done to alleviate their discomfort. Thankfully, for many of our patients this is rarely true.
Arthritis is caused by wear and tear through normal ageing, however, it can be accelerated and start earlier in life through heavy and repetitive overuse of the joints. Accidents can also trigger the process.
Having some understanding of the nature of arthritis and what can be done about it will help you enormously. We are here to treat you and get you moving pain-free as well as educate you on how best to move and protect yourself from further upset and injury.
You can do a number of things to alleviate arthritic conditions, but it is a balance between doing things and making it worse. We are here to monitor and advise you all the time.
What is arthritis and how do I know if I have it?
The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain, stiffness and swelling, which typically worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), gout and fibromyalgia, however, there are more than 100 different forms of arthritis and related diseases. All of them can cause pain in different ways.
Normal wear and tear causes osteoarthritis, one of the most common forms of arthritis. An infection or injury to the joints can exacerbate this natural breakdown of cartilage tissue.
Your risk of developing OA may be higher if you have a family history of the disease and with increasing age. Some 50% of people over 65 have OA to some degree and suffer the pain that can come with it.
Osteoarthritis causes cartilage to break down. Cartilage is the hard, slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones where they form joints. It protects the joints by absorbing the pressure and shock created when you move and put stress on them. A reduction in the normal amount of this cartilage tissue can cause some forms of arthritis.
The symptoms of arthritis usually develop over time, but they may also appear suddenly. Arthritis is most commonly seen in adults over the age of 65, but it can also develop in children, teens, and younger adults. We are seeing more young people with arthritic thumbs from texting or arthritis in the neck from prolonged computer use. Arthritis tends to be more common in women than men and in people who are overweight.
Your ability to move may also decrease with arthritis and you may experience redness of the skin around the joint. Many people with arthritis notice their symptoms are worse in the morning.
With rheumatoid arthritis, you may feel tired or experience a loss of appetite due to the inflammation that your immune system creates. You may also become anemic or have a slight fever. Severe RA can cause joint deformity if left untreated.
The usual treatment for RA is anti-inflammatory medications, rest, gentle manual therapy that we can offer, good lifestyle advice and specific exercises. Aspirin and steroids can reduce the inflammation and specific disease modifying drugs can encourage remission and help prevent further joint deterioration.
Swimming is highly recommended as it causes minimal stress on degenerated joints whilst our treatment can help with swollen joints, hand or wrist pain to improve day-to-day living. We work with doctors to endeavor to minimize the effects of the disease.
Our advice is that you always:
- Stay active – gently encourage your affected joints to move into the painful area.
- If possible, do exercises which put less weight through the joints. Swimming is a great example. We will advise you on the right kind of exercise tailored to your specific needs.
- Get treatment. Stretching and activity will help, but a hands-on approach is imperative.
- Stay positive. Remember, many people who have arthritis on their x-rays are symptom free! Why shouldn’t you be one of them?
“You’re old, what do you expect”…! This is what patients’ healthcare professionals often say however, there are plenty of patients at the clinic who are living their lives, more actively with less pain and suffering since receiving treatment. Remember that arthritis is not normal in a healthy body and that arthritic pain can come on quickly or over days, weeks or months. Also, osteoarthritis is actually a common finding on X-ray over 40 years of age
Our osteopaths can free up your joints and reduce muscle tension which, in turn, can reduce inflammation and pain. There are plenty of postural exercises and lifestyle changes we can recommend to help you manage daily life pain-free.
Don’t hesitate to contact us, as there is always something we can do.
Call for advice if necessary we would be glad to discuss it with you.
Repetitive strain injuries or RSI is a broad term that can be applied to any part of the body. It can happen suddenly or build up over a longer period of time. Over half a million people each year suffer from it and can, on average, take 14 days off annually because of it.
Commonly it is when muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments suffer a repetitive injury from improper posture at a computer or workplace for example. It is also popular in sports, especially in a gym doing the same routine over and over.
Symptoms depend on what the repetitive actions are. In most cases the symptoms develop in an arm, wrist or hand, as these parts of the body most commonly do repetitive tasks. In recent years it is computer operators, typists and musicians who most commonly develop RSI alongside those people who do a lot of DIY around the house, or do certain sports which involve repetitive movements such as tennis, golf and hiking.
What should you do to protect yourself from RSI?
- Vary what you do and keep moving is our advice.
- Come and have an assessment and treatment with us. We advise on how to improve your task or workstation.
- Regular MOT style treatments can stop RSI ruining your life.
- Krystyna has a well earned reputation for treating wrist and elbow problems as all her patients know and has helped thousands of patients become symptom –free.
What do we look at when treating your RSI?
As osteopaths we check your posture and biomechanics and discuss your exercise routine. Our extensive training allows us to observe the alignment of joints and muscles and work out which ones are straining with the task in hand. Whether it’s the foot, as in plantar fasciitis, the elbow as in tennis or golfers elbow or the wrist due to mouse misuse, we can help.
Krystyna is also trained in ergonomics and so is well placed to advise on workplace adjustments that may improve the situation further.
Osteopathic massage and stretching, along with manipulation of joints works really well. You need to seek treatment ASAP as RSI has the potential to become chronic and very painful if left unattended.
We often give advice on stretching.
Krystyna’s favourite is great for stretching out the shoulder, arm, wrist, and hand all at once. Extend the arm along a wall, with arm parallel to the ground and the palm facing the wall. Then attempt to open chest so that shoulders are perpendicular to arm. Extend fingers and palm away from wall as much as possible. Your hand may tingle – this is OK. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Then try with the arm at different angles before repeating the stretch on other side. Remember not to hold your breath!
Another one that is similar is the doorway stretch that stretches the pectorals and shoulder. Hold the elbows at a right angle, and place your forearm along the doorframe. Then lunge forward, whilst keeping the chest and pelvis facing squarely forward. Hold 30-60 seconds. Try holding arms at different angles and then repeat on other side.