25 Jul Arthritis Management
Post by Candice Newton, BHSc (Myotherapy)
Following on from Erin’s tips in our last post I thought that we could give some more insight of what else can be done to help manage arthritis. With the cold weather there seems to be a lot of joints flaring up!
It is very helpful to have a good understanding of what arthritis is and to have a care plan. Whether you know you have it, or you suspect you have it, myotherapists, physiotherapists or a general practitioners are a good place to start and it’s good to have a team of people that can help you live with Uncle Arthur!
The first step is diagnosing the problem. This isn’t always done by x-ray. Symptoms and history taking alone are enough to diagnose- so unless your treating therapist suspects something else, there is no need for it. The same goes for MRI. There is no need, so save your time and pennies!
Next is education. This is you learning what arthritis is and how to manage it. A great place to start is your GP or head to the Arthritis Australia website.
As Erin said in our last blog, there is good anecdotal evidence that modifying your diet to eat more omega 3, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon, and fruit and vegetables can help significantly by reducing inflammation in the body. It’s definitely worth giving it a try if it relieves your pain. Weight loss is also very important, as for every kilogram of body weight, the force that goes through each knee on a flat walking surface is 1.5 times. So if you are 100 kg, that is 150 kg of force going through one knee. Add stairs to this and you have 3 times your body weight. So that is 300 kg through one knee. People with arthritis are always amazed at how much better their pain is once they lose weight so it’s definitely worth it.
Topical creams can help relieve symptoms. We like to use fisiocrem. Some people also find that short doses of paracetamol or non steroidal anti inflammatories can help but please speak to you GP about pharmaceutical management. That is not my area of expertise. Heat packs can also alleviate symptoms temporarily.
Stretching and strengthening is fantastic for so many things but helps more than you think with arthritis. As much as you would like to just sit down with a heat pack and take pain killers, you can’t do that for the rest of your life (because unfortunately arthritis is here to stay). Take the knee for example. If you do some simple calf, hamstring and quadriceps stretches and hold them for 20 seconds a day, you can take some pressure off the knee. Cycling, aqua aerobics and swimming are great ways to strengthen the knees as they have less impact on the joint.
If you have tried and tested all of these things the last resort is joint replacement. They are certainly not uncommon and providing you follow all recommendations from your surgeon, doctor and physiotherapy the outcomes are fantastic.