Chronic Joint Pain – arthritis, bursitis and inflammation

Arthritis affects a large number of Australian’s, mostly occurring as osteoarthritis. It is a major cause of pain and disability. While changes in joint tissue structure change with advancing age, and by 85 years, are seen in most people, not everyone experiences pain or restricted movement. Commonly described as a condition of ‘wear and tear’ to the joint, osteoarthritis is now considered to be the result of the efforts of the body to repair the joint. So, the key is to identify the factors contributing to disrupted repair in individuals that do experience pain and disability, regardless of age.

Joint pain can prevent you from doing the things you love to do

There are two main categories of osteoarthritis, the first category being classed as idiopathic, or of unknown origin. The second category is due to injury or structural misalignment. In both situations the condition affects the whole joint including the cartilage, bone, ligaments and muscles. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint but most commonly occurs in the knees, hips, finger joints and big toe. It tends to have a slow progressive onset, with the main symptoms being pain and stiffness of the joints.

Other significant causes of joint pain include Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and spondyloarthritis, all autoimmune conditions. In autoimmune conditions the immune system mistakenly start to attack its own healthy tissues.

RA is one of the commonest autoimmune diseases; it is a progressive, systemic autoimmune condition impacting the joints leading to pain and inflammation in the joints, and if left untreated can led to cartilage and bone destruction. This condition is associated with a significant reduction in quality of life, linked with the associated pain, an increase in disability and also associated conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

The common symptoms of RA include:

  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Tenderness to touch around the affected joints
  • Stiffness in the joints, particularly in the morning
  • It is symmetrical (occurs in the same joints on either side of the body)

RA is more common in smokers and women. The course of RA is variable and early treatment is ideal. Having a health care team, integrating a mainstream medical approach with complementary care and seeking support when you need it are helpful for symptom control and improving self-management.

Reducing inflammation is one of the key targets of treatment, as is keeping active and learning ways to manage pain. A healthy anti-inflammatory diet is important both for reducing overall inflammation as well as maintaining health and wellbeing.

What we can do:

  • An assessment of the impact on your quality of life, and overall function and mobility
  • A holistic assessment of the individual contributors to musculoskeletal pain including:
  • Physical & structural
  • Nutritional & biochemical – assessing for common deficiencies associated with RA such as iron and vitamin D, as well as individual nutritional support
  • Inflammatory drivers and gut /immune axis
  • pain beliefs as well as the role of sleep and stress
  •  A comprehensive and individual plan that addresses all key aspects driving musculoskeletal pain not limited to physical therapy but also addresses:
  • diet and nutritional therapy
  • herbal medicine approaches for reducing inflammation and pain
  • physical therapy and support
  • microbiome health
  • medical management and psychological support as needed on an individual basis.
  • A 4-6 week course on the neuroscience of chronic pain, an evidence-based and effective approach for the treatment of chronic pain.

In summary

  • Symptoms
    Inflammation, swelling, pain and stiffness in joints
  • Possible causes
    An injury, over-use, repetitive stress injury, arthritis, inflammation
  • Modalities to treat
    Osteopathic, Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Remedial Massage, Nutrition and Naturopathy