Osteoarthritis (OA), which the most common type of arthritis, is wear and tear in the smooth cartilage protecting the bones in joints. This eventually leads to bone erosion, bone spurs and unsightly bony end thickening. The joint juice (synovial fluid), swells and becomes inflamed and sticky. The attacked bone hemorrhages precious calcium. The result tends to be pain and stiffness, worsening as the severity increases. Below is a knee illustration.
Indicators of OA are painful joints and especially more pain and stiffness when you wake or start moving. By the time we are 50 years old, 8 out of 10 of us have OA and by 60, 9 out of 10. Left untreated, OA can have a massive negative impact on your quality of life and left untreated, may need surgery. In fact, 95% of surgery on knees and hips is OA related.
How Do You Find Out If You Have OA?
Provisional Diagnosis is by a taking a detailed history, including your lifestyle and experience of symptoms and that of your close relatives, as OA so often runs in families. While this article is about OA, however, you may well have a combination of all sorts, for example, osteoporosis, rheumatoid and ligament strain. We explore how the severity of your muscle weakness, stiffness and joint pain affects your lifestyle. We ask you to partly undress and undergo functional movements to assess for joint range, flexibility, strength, pain and swelling and to allow the severity of the OA to be graded. Confirmation of the precise diagnosis and grading is only possible by adding X-ray or MRI scanning and bloods.
Could You Have OA Even Though You Don’t Hurt Much?
Perhaps surprisingly, the amount of pain felt does not always match the amount of wear and tear. In fact, modern research shows there is little correlation between pain severity and the amount of wear and tear. Hence pain alone cannot be used to determine the need for highly invasive joint surgery. Clearly, it’s vital that you are examined by experts.
Pain signals are sent to a nociceptive part of the brain (the part which processes pain from tissue damage) and pain starts shouting out, in a way that is a million times more distracting than your conscious thoughts. Moreover, after just 3 months, the pain moves into the emotional centre and hardwires itself into your mood and previously innocuous lifestyle activities. What this means is that your brain memorises and associates pain with an activity that should normally be enjoyable. The pain becomes chronic pain.
Can We Help You With OA and Chronic Pain?
The good news is mindfulness physiotherapy can massively reduce chronic pain. We advocate working towards optimum health with our 4 Keys approach. Nicky’s favourite treatment combination of modalities is: Wellness physiotherapy with a good exercise prescription and mindfulness plus basic dietary supplementation advice, acupuncture to give some immediate pain relief, and in less severe cases, shockwave for stiffness.
If you or someone you know is suffering ongoing pain and you are not sure what is causing the pain, or even if you know it is pain from osteoarthritis, then call us – we can help.
Call Now on 01889 881488. Erica & Jean will be happy to help