What is arthritis and how could it affect you?

Today is World Arthritis Day 2021! A day dedicated to helping raise awareness in all audiences across the world of the existence and impact of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. There are over 200 arthritic diseases, many with debilitating effects and can leave a silent but significant impact on a patient's daily life.


To increase awareness we want to provide you with information to help better educate yourself and/ or others who may be suffering.



What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a type of joint pain or joint disease, not a single disease which it’s sometimes misunderstood to be. As a result of an increased ageing population, arthritis is becoming more prevalent, with over 50 million adults having some type of the disease. It is also more common in women, occurring more frequently as people get older.

Symptoms you may experience are:

  • Joint pain and tenderness

  • Swollen joints

  • Stiffness of joints

  • Muscle weakness

  • Heat/redness from joints

  • Flu like symptoms

  • Eye irritation

  • Skin Conditions

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms we advise that you speak to your GP or an MSK specialist for further investigations. This will help you understand more about the different stages of arthritis, how each can affect you and what preventative treatment you can undertake to help manage and improve your symptoms.


How can arthritis affect you?

Depending on the severity of the arthritis, patients experience difficulties with various functional tasks. This can range from getting dressed in the morning/getting in and out of a car to pain and discomfort when playing sports such as golf and tennis.


Pain and joint stiffness can also lead to further health complications such as an increase in BMI, due to individuals becoming sedentary. These changes degenerative changes usually become worse over time as symptoms increase, resulting in a declining quality of life.

How can you manage arthritis?

There are numerous ways in which you can help yourself following a diagnosis of arthritis. The most effective way is exercise, and it is important to understand the benefits of exercise to reduce the fear of making your symptoms worse. For example, to prevent further weakness of muscles, engaging in light physical activity will ensure the strength is maintained around the affected joint.


Reducing the load going through the joints can also help to improve symptoms. Exercise has a key role to play with this and can help maintain a healthy weight. There are also links between regular exercise and healthy sleep, which will allow the body the best chance to repair itself. There is some evidence to suggest certain foods and supplements can improve/exacerbate arthritis symptoms as well.

Swimming, cycling and walking are just a few examples of exercise that can effectively maintain fitness whilst reducing load going through a joint. It is important to begin exercising gently and build up slowly in terms of duration and intensity to avoid aggravation of your symptoms and additional injuries. The challenge of making a lifestyle change such as increasing exercise can be difficult due to work and life demands.



How was Colin able to manage his arthritis?

Colin is a former Royal Marine, teacher and a very active person who has been on expeditions all over the world. He has been suffering with advanced hip osteoarthritis for 12 to 18 months, which gradually got worse and prevented him from leading an active life. He was given time spans of 18 months to 2 years wait time for a hip replacement which was affecting him not only physically and financially but in particular mentally. He was given re.flex prior to his surgery to help relieve his pain and improve his daily condition.


‘It’s been an important part of the process for me... I am training to be operated on’


Using the solution prior to his operation allowed him to maintain his function through prevention of muscle wastage around the hip. He was able to reduce his medication and pain, and prepare himself in the best possible manner for his surgery. The app provided him with form correction to ensure he was making the most out of exercise and particularly important for Colin was the ability to text message with our physiotherapist prior to his surgery, allowing him to liaise to ask questions and be supported in his recovery.


To learn more about how Colin was about to reduce his pain and prepare for surgery, watch his full story here.


Andreas Robinson

Physiotherapist


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