Joint pain

Arthritis, joint pain, wear and tear

Joint pain Taylor Osteopathy

Pain in one or more joints could be arthritis. In fact, it is. The word ‘arthritis’ derives from the Greek word -artho, meaning ‘joint’, and ‘itis’ meaning inflammation.

Joint pain, stiffness, tenderness, joint inflammation, reduced movement, redness and warmth around the joint, muscular weakness and wasting, can all be symptoms of the disease.

To be honest, arthritis is pretty rubbish. It can restrict a person’s ability to lead an ordinary life. In the clinic, we hear stories of arthritic hips causing pain and an inability to walk for even short distances. Arthritis of the hands making it impossible to open a can of pickled onions and similarly, arthritis in the knees making climbing stairs painful or kneeling on the floor to play with the grandchildren very difficult indeed.

There are four types of arthritis:

  • Degenerative arthritis – Of this group, osteoarthritis is the most common. The cartilage that cushions the joint wears done and the joint begins to rub bone against bone, causing discomfort, stiffness and sometimes swelling. The pain persists and the muscles lose strength. Increased weight, previous trauma (ie meniscus tear), age and family history can all be risk factors.
  • Inflammatory arthritis – Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout and ankylosing arthritis, are all examples of this disease. Our body is great at keeping us healthy with an immune system. It creates inflammation to rid us of infection and disease, but in some people, this immune system does not work properly. It can be destructive with too much inflammation, causing joint erosion. Scientists believe a person’s environment and genetics may trigger this autoimmune reaction.
  • Infectious arthritis – Organisms can sometimes infect our joints causing infectious arthritis. A virus, bacteria or fungus may cause inflammation when entering a joint. Blood infections such as Hepatitis C can cause arthritis. Some sexually transmitted diseases and food poisoning may also cause joint inflammation and pain.
  • Metabolic arthritis – Purine, a substance found in many foods and also in human cells is broken down by the body, forming uric acid. In some people, the body produces too much naturally or is unable to rid itself of it quickly enough. When this happens, the build-up of uric acid begins to form sharp, needle-like crystals in joints, which can cause incredible pain for those affected (Gout). If the levels of uric acid are not reduced then the ongoing issue can become chronic, causing temporary pain or ongoing disability.

What you can do
Getting an accurate diagnosis of your condition is the first step. Pain relief medications may help or other medicines may be prescribed depending on the arthritis type. Maintaining movement is essential to keep muscles strong and the joints flexible. Maintaining a healthy weight and improving diet can also help with some types of arthritis. Seeking help and assistance from a qualified osteopath for specific arthritis rehabilitation is also advised, to help reduce the pain felt from this debilitating group of conditions.

The Rotator Cuff

Rotator Cuff tears, impingements and bursitis

The Rotator Cuff Taylor Osteopathy

Do you have shoulder pain and not know why? It could be your cuff! Rotator cuff injuries a real pain to have to live with. Being unable to freely put on a jumper, carry a shopping bag, lie on your side, or even brush your teeth, can really take the shine out of the day. In fact, most people in the clinic tell us that it’s the simple activities that they usually take for granted that bother them the most. Playing with the children is no longer fun and throwing a ball for the dog is now just not possible.

We are often told, in the clinic, that the attitude of “it will get better by itself soon” leads to months down the line, somehow making things worse. Neck and upper back pain soon follows as the body tries to adapt to a new pattern of movements to help patients avoid the pain of moving the arm. Shoulder pain becomes a real nuisance and the people around you appear to start to suffer because of the patient’s pain too.

After reading the above, if this is you, then a little bit of knowledge of the shoulder and rotator cuff can go a long way here. Understanding some basic biomechanics and the actions of the rotator cuff muscles can help you to understand what may be going on and how to help yourself…So here it is.

The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles: Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor and Subscapularis. Now, these names may sound complicated but the jobs these muscles perform are far from it. Their roles may be simple but they are also very VERY important. The rotator cuffs primary role is to hold onto your arm (humerus) and suck it into your shoulder (glenoid fossa). The shoulder is a very mobile joint and due to this, lacks stability. These muscles, therefore, have to work really very hard, especially if you use your arms all day, every day and in repeated motions. These motions after a period of time can start to cause friction between two structures, where the muscle starts to rub against another tissue, for example, a bursa (causing bursitis) or causing micro-trauma to tendons causing micro-tears (tendinitis). These common shoulder issues, bursitis and tendinitis, increase the inflammation around the injured site, which therefore irritates the nerve endings causing you the pain and discomfort you feel.

Shoulder pain, exercises, stretches and rehab

Thankfully there are things that can be done to alleviate some of the discomforts of shoulder impingement, bursitis or tendinitis. Exercise and strengthening the muscles under the guidance of a qualified therapist Will most likely improve your symptoms over time but you can also improve your own symptoms by performing some simple exercises. Personally, I like to advise a simple traction exercise to start. I have attached a link here to a YouTube video that may be of benefit if you are suffering from shoulder pain. Click the link below to take a look:

Back pain, not in the back?

Back pain, not in the back?

A new patient, requesting treatment for a sudden onset of back pain was booked into the Corby clinic yesterday evening. When questioned, requesting the description of the lower back pain it seemed simple enough to understand; sharp and burning pain to the left lower back. This is quite a common description of a trapped nerve and also quite easy to treat too.

When I asked what caused this sudden onset of pain the patient was less sure than her description of her pain. “Nothing happened. The pain just came on”.

Not so simple after all…. Pain does not just happen. There is always a cause. A trip and fall to sprain an ankle, or some arthritis causing pain in the hip or knee. Pain does not arise from just nowhere.

I grew more inquisitive when the patient could not tell me what increased or relieved her pain. So I delved further with my questions. Do you feel sick or bloated? Are you constipated? Do you pain anywhere else? Etc. When the answers to these questions returned no further information, I then turned to the physical examination.

As an osteopath, in an examination, we request that the patient performs set movements to see if we can replicate the pain. If we can then that is fantastic, we have more information to work with. If not, then that too, is still positive, as negative results can help to make some issues more or less likely.

When I was unable to replicate the discomfort in the patients lower back, I was about to request that we perform some orthopaedic tests, when, out of the blue a sharp and burning pain gripped the patient and then passed, just a quickly as it appeared. When I questioned the patient about the pain that just occurred, I found out that the pain was not in the lower back at all but in the thorax, at the bottom of the ribs. This started to ring alarm bells, as the thorax is the area where the major organs, apart from the brain, are positioned.

I performed a few orthopaedic tests and was still unable to replicate the pain that the patient had just experienced, so I decided to perform an abdominal examination, much like the doctor would, if presented with the same case.

I could feel nothing untoward within the abdomen and the patient reported that the examination had caused her no pain and I could not find anything that felt unusual. I had a general idea of what I thought it might be, a kidney infection or stones, neither of which a physical therapist is able to treat, so I had no choice but to refer her back to her GP for further consultation.

I called the patient the next day to find out how she was, and discovered that the GP felt much the same as I did. He had the patient perform a urine test which found traces of infection and blood in her sample too, which could indicate stones. The patient was given antibiotics and pain killers, whilst she is referred to a consultant for more tests.