Agggh - My Aching Body
Is it Arthritis?
Arthritis often refers to a range of diseases and conditions that affect joints and the surrounding tissues.
While age is a contributing factor to developing arthritis, so is being overweight, being female, joint and muscular overuse, injury and muscle restrictions from poor posture, sport or occupational strain that have not been addressed.
Healthy tissue responds to strain, overuse and underuse by increasing the tone and rigidity of the muscle and connective tissue. This provides structural support and stability within the joints. Bone responds to strain by building more bone and strengthening areas that are under continual strain. But if your immune system is over activated, then there may be destruction of joint tissue and bone even bone erosion cause inflammation and degeneration.
Ligaments and tendons that are constantly held in positions of increased tone and contraction begin to fibrose and eventually will calcify. This leads to even more reduced flexibility and movement and potential pain as the body continues to try to adapt to the strain and tries to retain efficient muscle firing and function.
Structural strain and overuse can result in the formation of trigger and tender points that radiate pain to other areas of the body.
So you may experience back pain but in fact the trigger points may be in your butt or hips and the cause may be in your feet, ankles, calves, knees and /or upper leg muscles. Knee pain can frequently be caused by referred pain. Relieving the soft tissue strain around and at joints; even those with some degree of degeneration, has been found to significantly reduce pain, restore function and even delay surgery for lengthy periods.
Remedial massage and body work focuses on the release of tight tissue and rebalancing the body to achieve more efficient and functional movement. I.e reduce the joint and tissue strain.
Joints and Arthritis
The pattern and location of symptoms can vary depending on the type of arthritis. Mostly people feel pain and stiffness around joints which comes on gradually or suddenly.
Successful arthritis treatment depends on the type of arthritis but the sooner the better the outcome. Controlling joint strain and inflammation is important to prevent ongoing tissue hardening and damage.
Treatment typically includes:
- Medication analgesia and anti-inflammatories
- Diet Changes – higher Omega 3 fatty acids (fish, nuts or supplements) and calcium and vitamin D (dairy leafy greens ) intake
- weight loss
- remedial massage and structural body work to assist flexibility and reducing strain on joints and tissues
- appropriate exercise and stretch – this may include adjusting your exercise preferences and even your occupational strain
- splints and aids
- Surgery may be needed to remove spurs, repair or remove damaged tissue or replace joints
Is it Ever Too Late?
No in a word. The sooner you establish the diagnosis and get a treatment plan and team in place the better.
But if you are already experiencing body pain and functional loss, remedial body work and self care measures may be able to arrest the disease progress and increase your functional capacity and comfort. It may even reduce your medication needs.
Keeping the strain off already damaged joints and tissues will help you move more and easier and movement stimulates the production of the “joint and tissue juices” that allow our tissues to glide one surface upon another without friction strain and pain.
There are a number of programs that have been evaluated in the treatment of arthritis available in Australia and Internationally. Programs being evaluated to improve the outcomes of people living with arthritis include Aqua Exercise, Self Management Program, Tai Chi for Arthritis and A Matter of Balance. Check out www.cdc.gov for some ideas of what to look for in taking charge of your own health and condition.
So what are you waiting for? Book your massage and body work today.
Fascial Dysfunction, Manual therapy Approaches. 2014. Ed. Leon Chaitow. Handspring Pub. UK
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 6 November 2017. www.cdc.gov