Arthritis is common condition that can affect people of all ages. Arthritis affects the muscles, bones and joints and usually involves inflammation of one or more joints.

Symptoms of arthritis are pain, stiffness, damage to the joint cartilage, and swelling in the joints and surrounding tissues. This can lead to joint weakness, instability and abnormally shaped joints that can impact on activities of daily living such as preparing food, driving a car or even walking.

There are 4 common forms of arthritis:

  • Osteoarthritis – caused by wear and tear and breakdown of cartilage
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune disease that causes pain, swelling and inflammation in joints
  • Gout – caused by a build-up of uric acid in the bloodstream
  • Ankylosing spondylitis – inflammation of the spine and pelvis with subsequent fusion of the joints

Arthritis is best managed by a team of doctors, rheumatologist, dietitian, and other healthcare professionals including osteopaths.

Osteopathic treatment may help by:

  • reducing the muscular tension around the joint to reduce stiffness
  • improving lymphatic drainage to reduce swelling
  • maintaining joint function for a longer period of time
  • providing advice on ways to reduce inflammation e.g. exercise, meditation or diet.  

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Hendry M, Williams NH, Markland D, Wilkinson C, Maddison P.

Published in Family Practice

Several physical, cognitive and contextual factors, and a typology of exercise behaviour were identified that could be addressed in primary care consultations. The importance of gyms and GP referral schemes for people who are exercising for the first time, and the high level of patient satisfaction associated with these were highlighted.

Hinman, R

Published in J Physiother. 2014 Mar;60(1):56. doi: 10.1016/j.jphys.2013.12.005. Epub 2014 May 9.

For people with hip and knee OA, manual therapy and exercise therapy supervised by physiotherapists can lead to reduced pain and improved physical function for up to one year, with no added benefit from combining these physiotherapy interventions.

Pinto D, Robertson MC, Abbott JH, Hansen P, Campbell AJ; MOA Trial Team

Published in Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2013 Oct;21(10):1504-13. doi:10.1016/j.joca.2013.06.014. Epub 2013 Jun 27.

Exercise therapy and manual therapy were more cost effective than usual care at policy relevant values of willingness-to-pay from both the perspective of the health system and society.

Seffinger, M. A
Published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, January 2014, Vol. 114, 63. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2014.010

It is likely that OMT effectiveness would be similar to the manual therapy effectiveness demonstrated in this study. Studies assessing the effectiveness of OMT for patients with hip or knee OA are warranted.