Are you suffering with arthritic pain?
The articulating surfaces of the bones (the ends of the bones that come together forming the joint) are covered in articular cartilage and are bathed in synovial fluid ("joint oil"). In a normal healthy joint the articular cartilage is smooth and the synovial fluid provides adequate lubrication.
Articular cartilage is one of the first tissues to age and has relatively poor powers of regeneration because of its poor blood supply, even in a healthy person. The delicate balance between wear and renewal can be easily upset – a strain, a fall, repeated heavy use or an old injury to a joint can start a cycle of events that will lead to progressive degeneration in the joint. This may cause the joint to become stiff and the surrounding muscles and ligaments to become inflamed. This is known as osteoarthritis (OA), it is usually localised to a specific site such as hips, knees or spine (spondylosis)
Spondylosis can effect all regions of the spine affecting the intervertebral discs and facet joints.
Degenerative changes from ageing can weaken the outer layer of the disc (annulus fibrosis) and the water content of the inner disc (nucleus pulposus) decreases with age affecting its shock absorbing qualities.
Each vertebral body has four facet joints that work like hinges. Like other joints, the bony articulating surfaces are coated with cartilage. Facet joint degeneration causes loss of cartilage and formation of osteophytes (bony spurs). Osteophytes may cause nerve root compression and lead to pain, parasthesia (pins and needles) and weakness in the extremities (e.g. arm, leg).
Osteopaths are not able to undo actual bony changes or joint degeneration, there is however, a lot that can be done to optimise the available movement in a joint, decrease the amount of pain/stiffness suffered and help prevent further damage.
Osteopathy can also help with other varieties of arthritis including Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and Ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Rheumatoid arthritis is generally a systemic disease affecting not just joints but the whole body. Osteopathy can be helpful in addition to medication.