It’s Arthritis Care Week (May 14-21), a time when we are all encouraged to look at ourselves and ask, am I developing arthritis? And for those that have it, what more could I be doing to help myself.
Here leading GP, Dr Paul Stillman, from Talking Knees, shares his tips and advice on being aware of arthritis and lower limb management of it.
- Everyone thinks about dieting in the New Year but by now these resolutions have probably faded. The truth is, when we stand up we put our entire weight through our body, and this force increases as it goes down from our head to our feet. So our hips, knees and ankles take the most strain, and that’s just when we are standing still. When we walk and lift one foot off the ground the force increases. Then the stress through the standing leg is our body weight plus around 50%. If we run, climb stairs, the loading is even more. Reducing weight is probably the single most important thing to help prevent the development or progression of osteoarthritis, the most common form. It can be difficult, being overweight and in pain, but it’s vital.
- Exercise does more than just promote weight loss. By toning up muscles we support our joints better, and brace them against the mechanical stresses of movement. The most appropriate exercises will differ from person to person, depending on their fitness, abilities and any existing joint problems. We can even exercise sitting down. Swimming is good, the water provides resistance to movement and helps the muscles work, but also provides buoyancy so the movement becomes weightless.
- Many people find physical activity makes their joints more painful, not less, and fear they may be making things worse. Physiotherapy can help with active rehabilitation for arthritis sufferers and promote mobility for all. There are specialised forms of treatment too, such as *AposTherapy, which uses very sophisticated computer analysis before treatment to individually guide therapy correcting the abnormal stress on joints, particularly the knees, as well as actively retraining the muscles to stabilise the joints. Find out more at apostherapy.co.uk.
- The place of diet in preventing or even helping to slow the progression of arthritis has come under the spotlight in recent years. Apart from a healthy diet to return to and maintain normal weight, some research has shown a connection between certain types of arthritis, particularly Rheumatoid, and factors in our diet. The precise role remains debatable, but until we know more, it would appear to be sensible to consume oily fish, such as sardines and pilchards.
- Medication for arthritis and joint pain has also been under the microscope. Recent research now suggests that paracetamol, one of the cornerstones of pain management for decades, should be abandoned as it is not sufficiently powerful to offer relief. For many that means changing to paracetamol codeine combinations, or to ibuprofen and other medicines in the anti-inflammatory class. All medicines, even those available without prescription, need to be taken with care and due respect of their proper dosage and possible side effects. The information leaflets can seem daunting, but the simple dose and interval advice does need to be heeded before you start.
*For a drug free and surgery free approach to help alleviate knee pain this is where AposTherapy could help. In a clinical study of 1300 UK patients carrying out AposTherapy for around an hour a day, almost nine out of ten, 87%, noticed a reduction in pain and 88% experienced improved mobility.