Arthritis Awareness Week – October 7th – 13th

If you are young, you probably don’t think about arthritis. It’s only oldies that get it, isn’t it? Well, although Osteoarthritis is associated with aging and wear and tear of the body, there are other types of arthritis which can affect people of any age.

Rheumatoid Arthritis can affect any age group, even children, although you are most at risk if you are a middle-aged woman with rheumatoid arthritis in the family and you smoke. It is an autoimmune disease so it doens’t just cause problems in the joints, despite its name. It is the most common inflammatory arthritis and those affected often describe the joint pains as ‘burning’ – the joints can actually feel hot because of the inflammation. It usually affects the peripheral joints first (hands, wrist, feet) and is commonly bilateral – it affects both feet, both hands, etc. The joints may be swollen, painful and red, There is usually severe stiffness in the mornings that lasts for longer then thirty minutes.

However it can also lead to inflammation elsewhere in the body, such as the lungs, heart and eyes. These days there are many different medications which can slow down its progression. Patients commonly have flare-ups which then subside.

Other types of arthritis are:

Psoriatic Arthritis, which is also imflammatory and is usually associated with psoriasis skin problems.

Gout, which is caused by the presence of uric acid crystals within the joints and is excruciatingly painful, but again can be treated with a range of medications. Certain foods, such as offal, seafood, beer and fruit sugars can lead to increased production of uric acid. The most coomonlyy-affected joint is the big toe, but it can affect other joints.

Photo of foot with gout
Right foot with gout – red, hot and swollen

Ankylosing Spondylosis, which tends to affect younger people, more men than women, and usually starts in the spine, leading to chronic stiffness which can become permanent fusion if allowed to take hold. The inflammation can also cause eye problems.

Juvenile Idopathic Arthritis, which affects children under 16. It used to be called Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis as the symptoms are similar. It can last a few months or many years.

Reactive arthritis, which follows infection. It usually targets your knees, ankles and feet. Inflammation also can affect your eyes, skin and urethra. It may come and go and disappears within a year.

Septic Arthritis, which can occur after a germ enters a joint, such as following a trauma (animal bite, pucture would) or surgery.

Thumb Arthritis, which affects the base of the thumb. It occurs most often with aging, more in females and other risk factors are jobs and activities which put more stress on this joint, previous injury, obsity, diseases which affect the cartilage of the joints and pre-existing conditions such as hypermobility.

Although osteopathy cannot cure arthritis, it can certainly help to alleviate some of the symptoms, especially for osteoarthritis. With the inflammatory ones, we can work on the unaffected joints surrounding the painful one(s) and ensure they are working as optimally as possible to take the pressure offf the affected one(s).

Find out more here: Arthritis Foundation

Image by cnick from Pixabay

Picture of hypermobile thumb

The Problem with Dancers

So what is the problem with dancers? First of all, I have nothing against dancers at all.Have a look at this: Sergei Polunin dancing to Hosier’s Take Me To Church – who could object to this! 😉

But as an osteopath, I do find that as far as their musculoskeletal system goes, they can be a problem. This is because many of them are hypermobile.

So what is ‘hypermobility’?’ It is defined as the ability to move joints beyond the normal range of movement. (Some people know it as being ‘double-jointed’). But that is good, isn’t it? I hear you say. Well, it can be good for a dancer, of course, but it can be a double edged sword. Here’s why:

If you are hypermobile (and many children are, but some don’t grow out of it) it can lead to all sorts of problems in later life, as I know to my cost. Because, although I am definitely not a dancer, I was hypermobile when I was younger.You may even have Joint Hypermobilty Syndrome.

So how do you know if you are hypermobile? There are various signs that could indicate that you are hypermobile. Firstly children, hypermobile people are usually either very flexible and can impress their friends with their contortions, gymnastics or ‘double-jointedness’ or they are very clumsy (I was the latter!) The clumsiness is because their joint position sense is often slightly ‘off’ (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)

Picture of hypermobile thumb

Other signs are:

Recurrent dislocations

Prolapses common because of weak pelvic and/or abdominal muscles (e.g. hiatus hernia)

Overreaction to exercise (you feel VERY achey – I used to think I’d simply done a good workout)

Stretch marks common at a young age

Easily bruised

The skin often feels soft and velvety;

Unexplained chest pains  (may have been told they have a heart murmur)

Low blood pressure or fast heart rate, which may lead to blackouts or near blackouts and often triggered by change in posture from lying/sitting to standing, or after standing in one position for even just a few minutes;

Symptoms like Irritable Bowel Syndrome with bloating, constipation, and cramp-like abdominal pain

Shortness of breath similar to asthma, but doesn’t respond to inhalers

Local anaesthetics, used for example in dentistry, seem to be not very effective or much more is required than normal

Severe fatigue

Anxiety and phobias

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have Joint Hypermobility Syndrome. Here is a link to some information from the Hypermobility Syndromes Association

 

 

Image credit: By Magnolia Dysnomia (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons