What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and affects millions of people all over the world. It’s a condition that causes stiff and painful joints, from mild discomfort to debilitating pain that can impact everyday life.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions your joints degrades and wears out over time. In a healthy joint, the cartilage forms a hard, smooth surface for the bones to move freely in multiple directions (depending on the type of joint). As osteoarthritis advances, it causes this barrier to become thinner until bone is rubbing on bone.

This can lead to inflammation of the joints and connective tissues, causing the area to become red and swollen, as well as causing pain and reduced mobility.

It can occur in almost any joint in the body.

Osteoarthritis symptoms

The symptoms of osteoarthritis usually develop slowly over a long time, getting worse and more noticeable as the condition advances. The severity of symptoms can be very different between different people, with some people only experiencing relatively mild pain or joint trouble, while it may be more intense for others.

Pain – the joint or joints where the arthritis is present will become painful when you move

Stiffness – joints will become difficult to move

Grating noise – when you move the joint you can hear a grinding or crackling sound

Redness and swelling – the soft tissues of the affected joints can become inflamed

If you experience any of these symptoms and they don’t go away, you should make an appointment to see your doctor so they can determine if its osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis causes

There’s no exact cause known for osteoarthritis, but age is the biggest factor in its development. Your joints are exposed to movement and wear and tear every day, but any damage Is repaired by your body. This ability to repair the damage seems to diminish as we age.

While we don’t know of the exact cause, there are risk factors that can increase the chances of developing osteoarthritis

Risk factors

Injuries – if you’ve previously injured a joint and not given it the time to heal

Family history – this can increase your risk, but it’s not known why

Other arthritis – if a joint is already affected by existing conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout Obesity – excessive weight can put more strain on joints such as knees and hips

Osteoarthritis treatment

While there’s no direct treatment for osteoarthritis, there are things you can do to manage the condition, and even improve it with milder cases. In many cases, it’s possible to stop the condition from progressing and getting worse. Painkillers can also help with decreasing discomfort when doing everyday activities, or even adding supplements to your diet such as fish oil.

If you only have a mild case of osteoarthritis, lifestyle changes could help to manage or improve symptoms, such as:

  • losing weight
  • increasing exercise
  • wearing certain supportive clothes or shoes
  • physical or occupational therapy

In more severe cases, surgery can sometimes be an option to repair or strengthen a joint, such as replacing it with an artificial one, or temporarily relieve severe pain with an injection such as cortisone.

Common examples of this would be a hip replacement or a knee replacement, which can repair or replace the arthritic joints to reduce pain and improve mobility.

If you’re experiencing problems with arthritis and joint pain, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us  to make an appointment to speak to your doctor for advice on your options.


Derived from ancient Greek ‘osteo’ meaning ‘bone’ and ‘path’ meaning ‘disease of’

In reality most Osteopaths treat musculoskeletal issues including; back pain, neck pain, and joint problems. Osteopaths are healthcare professionals that utilise manual and physical therapy to help with painful complaints or to help improve the function of your body. The training to become an Osteopath usually takes a minimum of 4 years. This assures that patients are in very safe and skilful hands.

What Is Osteopathy?

Osteopathic is a a system of diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of medical conditions. It works with the structure and function of the body, and is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues functioning smoothly together/

Simply put, this means that your body is capable of self-healing (in many cases) and that optimal healing takes place in the optimal environment. Osteopaths  look at how you adapt to your complaint or how it arose in the first place and work with you and your body to facilitate optimal healing and get you on the road to a swift recovery. This principle is adopted in many therapies including modern medicine – a fracture is set in a cast to provide you with the stability needed to allow bone repair and antibiotics are prescribed to fight off bacterial infection so that you can recover. Osteopaths help facilitate healing by improving motion and allowing your body to compensate during recovery.

What Can Osteopathy Help With?

Osteopaths work to facilitate the body’s own ability to heal, working with the body’s structure and function to provide your body with the optimal healing environment. With this principle in mind, they could potentially treat many conditions. However, the efficacy of this may be questionable, and it’s important to know their limitations in practice. This is done by reviewing scientific research relevant to its practice and based treatments on best research and practice. This is referred to as evidence based or evidence informed medicine, and is relevant to all fields of medicine.

There is supporting evidence that Osteopaths can provide effective treatment for:

  • generalised aches and pains
  • joint pains including hip and knee pain from osteoarthritis as an adjunct to core osteoarthritis treatments and exercise
  • arthritic pain
  • general, acute & chronic backache, back pain (not arising from injury or accident)
  • uncomplicated mechanical neck pain (as opposed to neck pain following injury i.e., whiplash)
  • headache arising from the neck (cervicogenic) / migraine prevention
  • frozen shoulder/ shoulder and elbow pain/ tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) arising from associated musculoskeletal conditions of the back and neck, but not isolated occurrences
  • circulatory problems
  • cramp
  • digestion problems
  • joint pains
  • sciatica
  • muscle spasms
  • neuralgia
  • fibromyalgia
  • inability to relax
  • rheumatic pain
  • minor sports injuries and tensions


Introduction to chronic pain

It is estimated that between 12%-20% of the population suffer from chronic pain, which is defined as consistent pain lasting 3 months or more. This can be debilitating for sufferers, with many people feeling constant pain over many months or even years

Chronic pain can be split into two categories:

Chronic Secondary Pain is caused by an underlying condition such as arthritis or endometriosis whereas Chronic Primary Pain is when the cause is unknown. With painkillers often not working, patients can be left feeling lost and in search of alternative pain relief methods. Pain can also be very personal with its levels unable to be felt by others, often making it a very isolating experience for most sufferers.

The effects of painkillers

Many people suffering with chronic pain will use some level of painkillers. However, painkillers may not always be the best way to treat a complex issue like chronic pain as the root of the problem is not always clear and diagnosis will be broad and hard to treat. Many people can also grow dependent on strong painkillers, with little difference made to the actual level of the pain – studies show that painkillers do more harm than good in this scenario, and lifestyle and mindset changes can be key in decreasing reliance on strong pain killers.

If you are suffering from chronic pain, you may feel concerned about eradicating or even reducing the amount of pain relief that you take, worrying that the pain will inevitably increase or get worse. However, as painkillers are not proven to work on consistent pain, alternative methods are proven to be the best way to manage it over time and will also decrease a lot of the common negative side effects associated with long term pain killer use.


As daunting as it may seem at first, self-management has been shown to greatly improve the wellbeing and quality of life of someone suffering with chronic pain. Over time, the effects of slowly and steadily becoming more active and implementing new lifestyle and mindset changes has been instrumental in living with chronic pain. One of the first steps is acceptance of the pain as a part of your life, and then focusing on working towards reducing this to a manageable level rather than eradicating the pain entirely straight away.

Pacing is an effective technique to practice where patients can break tasks down into much smaller increments, so they don’t over-exert themselves and cause further pain, especially if they are starting from a very sedentary lifestyle and gradually upping their activity as endurance levels increase. This means that on days the patient feels better, they don’t then do more than they normally would and in turn cause further pain and a longer recovery time, instead they keep their activity levels consistent and build the momentum in a sustainable way.

Setting small but manageable goals such as getting outdoors every day (even if this means spending time in the garden) will give you something tangible to work towards, don’t focus on any negatives but instead set time-bound and realistic goals with a clear action.

Therapies that can help

There are many therapies and exercises that can help alongside self-management that will target different needs.

Some of these include:

Although the last thing that you may feel like doing is exercising, gentle activity will help you recover and build your pain tolerance. Walking or swimming are great starter exercises and will loosen muscles and increase blood flow around your body – as well as releasing those feel-good endorphins!

Manual Therapies
Physiotherapy and manual therapies can help build tolerance to physical activity as stretching and strengthening the muscles can help prevent further injury. If needed, physiotherapists can also provide a pain management program tailored to increase physical activity and movement.

Alternative Therapies
Alternative therapies such as hydrotherapy and acupuncture can work for some individuals too. Gentle exercises such as yoga and tai chi can help manage pain as they combine mindfulness with movement.

Mental Health Support
Chronic pain can have a detrimental effect on mental health, which in turn also takes a toll on the body – so it is important to have a healthy outlet to release any frustrations. Mindfulness is a good practice to learn to relax and meditate in the surroundings of your own home..

Flare-ups and how to manage these

Unfortunately, in the world of chronic pain, flare-ups may happen from time to time. The key is not to lose any progress made and having a plan of action in place so that you are prepared and do not panic. Try to stay as active as possible, as hard as it may be – it will make recovery much quicker and easier to manage.