Have you been ‘diagnosed’ with arthritis and told by your doctor that nothing can be done about it? – leaving you to feel that you just have to put up with it?
or maybe you believe “it’s just old age”!
Then this article may just change the way you feel about it.
Arthritis is a general term that can be used to describe the condition of inflamed, stiff and painful joints and exists in many different forms. With over 8 million suffers in the UK, osteoarthritis is by far the most common form of arthritis and one we often see here in the clinic.
This type of arthritis causes your classic stiff and achey joint symptoms and occurs when the cartilage that cushions and protects the end of joints wears down over a period of time.
The severity of which osteoarthritis can affect your joints can vary greatly and cause numerous symptoms as the process goes on. In the early stages of arthritis the cartilage lining begins to wear down, resulting in it thinning out. This places more stress through the ligaments and tendons around the joints and causes movement to become more painful.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise clients often tell us they have stopped exercising through fear of making it worse!
Misconceptions about arthritis can be one of the most damaging things for arthritis and can lead people to believe that symptoms can’t be treated and managed. Understanding the truth behind the myths however will be the first step towards managing your symptoms and starting a more active life with arthritis!
4 Common myths about arthritic joints
1. Exercise will make arthritis worse
FALSE… Whilst arthritic joints can be very painful, being active can help to reduce and
manage pain through improving range of movement and joint mobility, increasing muscle strength and reducing joint stiffness. By keeping the joint lubricated through movement and building the muscles around the joint to provide addition support and take the stress of the joint, exercise is one of the best things you can do for arthritis in the early stages.
2. Cracking your joints will give you arthritis
FALSE… Whilst many people around you may often tell you off for cracking your joints,
this is not going to cause arthritis! When not accompanied by pain, noisy joints are often harmless. The cracking sound is attributed to air bubbles located in your synovial fluid that surrounds your joint to provide lubrication and not bones rubbing together as commonly thought! – In fact we often say worry more when a previously noisy joint has stopped making noise as this means the lubrication in the joint has dried up and is commonly associated with later stages of arthritis.
3. Osteoarthritis is hereditary
FALSE… We often here clients say things like “my mother suffered terribly with arthritis therefore I will!” Whilst some anatomical similarities and certain hereditary conditions might contribute to arthritis, in the most part it is not truly understood what causes arthritis and it is often down to the individual use of each joint throughout your lifetime.
4. There is nothing you can do after being diagnosed with osteoarthritis
FALSE… Although there is not a cure for arthritis and you are not going to reverse the changes to your cartilage, just putting up with it or having surgery aren’t the only options when it comes to arthritis. When correctly identified and treated, there are a number of things that can be done to preserve joint function, mobility and improve quality of life without the need for surgery or reducing activity levels.
Time To Move It! – Exercise for Arthritic Joints
Whilst osteoarthritis can occur in any articular joint in your body, it most commonly affects the joints of your hands, knees, hips and/or spine. Here at the clinic we can help you to understand how arthritis is affecting you, manage your pain and provide a treatment and exercise programme that will help to keep you moving and get you back on track.
Below are some of our top exercises for getting each of the commonly affected areas moving with arthritis:
1. Free those Knees – (Seated knee extension)
this exercise allows you to build strength in your quadriceps and hamstrings without placing excessive pressure through your knee joint.
– Sit on a chair and place a rolled up towel underneath your knee
– Slowly straighten your knee and pause at the end of the movement. – Return your leg to the start position slowly.
2. Open those hips – (Kneeling with leg extension)
If you have arthritis in your hip this is a great exercise to help improve your mobility without placing excessive stress through the joint.
– Start on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
– Tighten your abdominal muscles to help stabilise your trunk as you slowly straighten one leg out behind you.
– Keep your foot in contact with the floor throughout this movement and do not allow your hips to rotate.
– Slowly return your leg to the start position and repeat with your other leg.
3. Unlock your spine – (Seated Spine Rotation)
If you have arthritis in your spine and/or neck, this is a great way to maintain mobility using control movement.
– Sit straight on a chair. Lightly cross your arms over your chest.
– Rotate your body around to the right and look over your right shoulder.
– Hold this position before rotation back around to the left.
– It is important you only rotate as far as is comfortable and do not cause any pain.
4. Flex those hands wrists – (hand and wrist articulations)
If you have arthritis in your hands this exercise helps to prevent stiffness by using slow and controlled movement.
– Start with you fingers straight and slowly curve one digit inward until it touches with your thumb. This should make an ‘o’ shape.
– From this position, bend and straighten at the wrist before returning to the start position.
– Repeat with the next finger.
If you are affected by arthritis or joint pain the key to getting back on track and preventing further issues is receiving the correct diagnosis in order to establish the cause of your symptoms and create an appropriate treatment and exercise plan.
Having arthritis doesn’t mean you have to give up the things you love! If you need help getting active again then please get in touch with us here at the clinic.
If you know anyone that the information in this article could help, then please feel free to pass it on and share with your family and friends.