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Being Active With Arthritis

Posted on 5th June 2019 by

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists are launching a new campaign, as part of their ‘Love Activity, Hate Exercise?’ initiative.

Being Active With Arthritis

This campaign, Being Active With A Long Term Condition, is focusing on how daunting it can be to start to become more active, especially if you haven’t done much exercise before and you are managing a health condition. The new campaign is aimed at helping people to become more active, despite having a long-term condition. They have released special guides for 10 of some of the most common long teem health conditions, including arthritis, cancer, diabetes and dementia.

We see many people who are living with arthritis here at goPhysio, so this new guidance is very helpful for many of the people we help. The evidence to support the benefits of physical activity to help people with arthritis is overwhelming.

Activity and exercise has the potential to help you if you have arthritis in many ways, including:

  • Reduce your pain
  • Improve your mobility and independence
  • Help you get stronger
  • Improve your balance
  • Increase your fitness levels
  • Prevent or delay need for surgery

So, if you are living with arthritis and would like to get more active, here’s how you can get started.

  • Choose an exercise type that you’ll enjoy or perhaps revisit one that you have enjoyed in the past.
  • Strengthening, cardiovascular and mobility exercises have all been shown to be helpful for arthritis, but the type is less important than the enjoyment factor and sticking to it long term.
  • There are no exercises that are off limits, at least in principle. Sometimes care needs to be taken and stepping stone exercises might be required to get to a particular activity but be reassured that any exercise will be helpful in the long term.
  • Start off at a lighter intensity and then build up slowly allowing yourself time to accommodate an increase in intensity.
  • Some pain or even a slight increase in pain is ok during and after the exercise but it should settle back to pre-exercise levels in 24 hours, not be too severe, or coincide with protracted swelling, heat or redness of joints.
  • It might be appropriate to start your exercise in the pool where the decreased weight bearing will be more comfortable. Running, squats and lunges are all possible and practicing in the pool first will allow some time for your body to get used to the movements.
  • Choosing the right environment for you might require some experimentation. The gym is not the only option. For some exercising with a partner will be motivating, whilst others might find it distracting. Pick your preference but be open to different options.
  • Consider your other health needs. Diet, sleep, limiting smoking and keeping stress as low as possible are all just as important as exercise to manage arthritis symptoms.
  • If you get stuck, don’t know where to begin, or are struggling with the symptoms, why not seek professional advice from one of our team, who can complete a comprehensive assessment and give you guidance on how to implement your program.

In addition to individual consultations with one of our Physio team, we are also able to offer a range of services that can tempt, encourage and support you to become more active if you’re living with arthritis.

Older People's Day

Positive Steps – This exercise class, designed specifically for those in later life, is a small and un-intimidating exercise class. You’ll work through a series of exercises to develop strength, mobility, balance and flexibility. It’s full of fun and laughter and some great friendships have formed through exercise. If you’d like to come along and have a try, the first class is free. You’ll find more details here.

Rehabilitation – If you’d like to be challenged, we offer a 6 week, individualised exercise programme, tailored just for you. You’ll be expertly guided and encouraged through a series of exercises that will help you achieve your own personal goals. Find out more here.

Clinical Pilates – If you’re after something a little more gentle (although can be surprisingly challenging!), our Clinical Pilates classes could be for you. Teaching you to move well, with control and balance, Pilates is a great way to get you stronger. It is ideal for those with long term health conditions such as arthritis and as you’ll be carefully guided by one of our Clinical experts, so will have the additional support and care to help you work the right areas.

If you’d like any help or guidance or would like to find out more about any of our services, then please give us a call on 023 8025 3317.

#LoveActivity #HateExercise

Read More

New exercise guide for people with arthritis

An arthritis overview

6 Arthritis Myths



6 Arthritis Myths

Posted on 12th October 2018 by

Today is World Arthritis Day, aiming to raise awareness of the importance of early diagnosis and World arthritis day access to timely, evidence based treatment of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases.

Rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) are commonly classified into inflammatory and non-inflammatory types:

Common non-inflammatory RMDs consist of degenerative spine diseases, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and fibromyalgia.

Common inflammatory RMDs consist of rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, connective tissue diseases and polymyalgia rheumatica.

There are many myths surrounding these conditions and to shed some light on these, Physiotherapist Gemma has explored them further.

Myth 1: There’s only one type of arthritis

There are several types of arthritis with very different causes, symptoms and treatments. Osteoarthritis is the most common form and is our normal wear and tear as we age. This can give symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and thickening around the joint and typically affects the knees, hips or spine in people over the age of 50. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that typically starts in younger adults and cause redness, heat, swelling and pain often in the small joints of the hands and feet. There are many other forms including juvenile arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. If you are unsure about your symptoms check with your GP or physiotherapist.

Myth 2: My parents had arthritis so I will get it too

Whilst genetics do play a role in the development of arthritis, lifestyle has a much bigger influence. For example, if you are overweight, with a poor diet and a heavy occupation you may be more likely to develop arthritis than a sibling that is a healthy weight and has good strength in the muscles which help to support their joints.

Myth 3: You shouldn’t exercise if you have arthritis

It’s a common belief that if osteoarthritis is wear and tear in the joint, then further exercise will wear it out more. However, the reverse is actually true. By exercising we are mobilising the joint which helps to relieve stiffness, and we are strengthening the muscles around the joints which can help to support and offload the painful area. Low weight-bearing exercises such as cycling or swimming can be a great place to start if your joints are painful enough to limit the type of exercise you are able to do. Specialist classes such as clinical Pilates or our Active Ageing Exercise classes for older people are a perfect way to exercise with the right support and guidance.

Myth 4: Arthritis is always painful and will get worse as I get older

If you start noticing the symptoms of osteoarthritis there’s a lot of things you can do to help relieve and even abolish the pain yourself. Start simply by using a heat pack such as a hot water bottle or microwavable wheat pack to help ease stiffness and aches. Then begin gentle stretches of the affected joints, you need to do these little and often to be effective, but don’t push into pain.

Consider your diet and exercise levels, extra body weight puts a lot of extra stress and strain on our joints so shedding even a few pounds can help. A physiotherapist can give you personalised advice, hands-on treatment such as joint mobilisations, soft tissue massage, acupuncture and a tailored exercise prescription have all been shown to be effective in relieving the pain of arthritis. We see many patients who remain pain-free and active for years with these simple solutions.

Myth 5: If I have arthritis I will need a joint replacement

Joint replacement surgery is a major operation and always considered a last resort rather than a quick fix. Start by following the tips above and if you still find you are struggling with everyday activities seek advice from your GP. They will be able to organise an x-ray to assess the degree of wear and tear in your affected joint and ask you questions about the types of activities you are struggling with and if you have tried modifying lifestyle factors such as diet, weight and exercise. Remember some unaffected joints may show equal or even worse wear on x-ray but be completely asymptomatic. Therefore, there is no need to undergo the risks of surgery if it is not causing you any pain.

Myth 6: Supplements help

A lot of research has been conducted into supplements such as glucosamine and chrondroitin which are thought to help rebuild damage cartilage in arthritic joints. However, the vast amount of the research in this area is flawed or bias (i.e. research conducted on animals rather than humans, or conducted by the company’s manufacturing the product with a vested interest in positive results). The more recent unbiased research shows these supplements to be no better than a placebo. That said, some people do feel they get some benefit from supplements so consider trying them for up to 3 months to weigh up the cost versus the benefit yourself.

If you need any help or support then please do get in touch. Our team of Clinicians and range of services can really help educate and inform you about your condition and find ways for you to help live with your condition positively.


An Arthritis Overview

Posted on 19th May 2014 by

Arthritis means joint inflammation – arthro = joint and itis = inflammation. It’s an umbrella term used to cover many different types of joint inflammation.

Many people know they have arthritis or have heard of arthritis, but sometimes aren’t sure which one they have or what the different types are.

This blog will cover the 4 most common types of arthritis and give you more information on what it is, which joints are affected and how it can be treated.

Physiotherapy has a crucial role in helping all types of arthritis by helping to maximise muscle strength, joint mobility and flexibility and supporting functional independence, so helping you to keep doing the things you enjoy.

Osteoarthritis

This is the most common type of arthritis and tends to develop gradually over time.

What Happens?

The cartilage at the joint becomes worn and rough, sometimes wearing out completely. This leads to osteophytes, or small bony growths, forming at the edges of the joint to try and replace the cartilage. The joint space becomes narrowed and tissues surrounding the joint can thicken. Often, there is inflammation making the joint stiff and painful to move.

Which Joints?

Osteoarthritis is most common in the hands, knees, hips, feet and spine.

How Is It Treated?

Medication: Analgesics for pain relief, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for reducing inflammation and pain & steroids to reduce severe inflammation.

Surgery: Arthroscopy – to clean out the joint and remove any irritants & in more severe cases, joint replacements – most common in hips and knees.

What Can You Do To Help?

  • Keep mobile
  •  Strengthen muscles to help support joints
  • Learn to pace activities

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is an inflammatory disease, affecting joints and tendons. It tends to present with episodes of ‘flare ups’.

What Happens?

Inflammation usually helps to heal the body, but with Rheumatoid Arthritis, prolonged inflammation causes damage. The immune system starts to attack joints, causing the prolonged inflammation. The joint capsule also becomes inflamed, leading to pain, stiffness and swelling.

Which Joints?

Rheumatoid arthritis is most common in the neck, hands and feet.

How Is It Treated?

Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs to reduce inflammation and slow the damage being caused. Steroids may be used in severe cases of inflammation.

Surgery: Joint replacement surgery if joint function is lost or at risk.

What Can You Do To Help?

  • Learn to pace yourself and accept help on difficult tasks
  • Speak to an Occupational Therapist and Physiotherapist for help with activities of daily living.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

This is another form of inflammatory arthritis that affects the spine. Ankylosing means stiffening and spondylitis means inflammation of the spine.

What Happens?

The joints in the lower part of the spine become painful and inflamed, where the sacrum joins the pelvis. This inflammation then starts to travel up the spine, affecting vertebra at higher levels. The inflammation causes scar tissue to form in the joint spaces between the vertebra, reducing movement. Over time, the scar tissue may become calcified – turning into a bony-like tissue, which fuses the joints together and limits the available movement in the spine.

Which Joints?

Ankylosing Spondylitis mainly affects the spine, but can also affect the hips and shoulders.

How Is It Treated?

Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs to reduce inflammation and slow the damage being caused. Steroids may be used in severe cases of inflammation.

What Can You Do To Help?

  • Keep active
  • Give up smoking – AS can lead to restrictions in rib movements and smoking will reduce lung function further

Gout

This type of arthritis responds well to treatment and further joint damage can be avoided with effective treatment.

What Happens?

Gout is caused by high levels of uric acid crystals building up in the joints. This happens when levels of uric acid are too high in the body – either because more is produced or not being effectively removed as a waste substance. Once the uric acid forms crystals around the joints, there may move into the joint space – this is when the pain, swelling and inflammation starts. It tends to last a few days and then settle, letting the joint return to normal.

Which Joints?

Most commonly affects the big toe joint, but can also affect the ankles, knees, hands, wrists and elbows.

How Is It Treated?

Severe acute attacks will be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. For people affected regularly, preventative medication like allopurinol or febuxostat may be given to stop uric acid build up in the body.

What Can You Do To Help?

Drink plenty of water Avoid alcohol and red meat – these can increase uric acid levels