Arthritis is the biggest cause of pain and disability in the UK. 10 million people are living in pain every day.
With National Arthritis week being upon us, we want to explain what it actually is, what the symptoms are, how to diagnose it, manage the pain, and how to treat it.
So, what is arthritis?
Well there are two main types of arthritis, the inflammatory Rheumatoid Arthritis and the non- inflammatory Osteoarthritis.
This is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints, specifically the synovium. People who have this disease suffer from joint pain and swelling, there will also be redness and warmth on the surface caused by increased blood flow. The joint hurts for two reasons:
1. Nerve endings are irritated by the chemicals produced by the inflammation.
2. The capsule itself is being stretched by the swelling in your joint.
Even when the inflammation reduces the capsule remains stretched and can no longer hold the joint properly. This is why the joint can become unstable and move into unnatural positions. Every time you suffer from inflammation of the joint some damage will occur and the joint can be worn away after many repeated inflammations.
There is no one way of diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis in the early stages. A health professional would diagnose based on your symptoms, x-rays, scans, blood tests and a physical examination. These tests may be carried out numerous times to see how the arthritis is developing.
This is again a condition that affects your joints. The cartilage that covers the ends of the bone to allow smooth movement at the joint gradually becomes rough and thin, this leads to the bone thickening. The bone can grow outwards forming osteophytes which are bony spurs. The synovium, which is the tissue that produces synovial fluid thickens and produces more synovial fluid to try to reduce the friction, this leads to swelling.
The capsule and ligaments also thicken and contract as they try to stabilise and protect the joint. When Osteoarthritis develops more severely, the cartilage can become so thin that it doesn’t cover the whole of the bone. This means that the bones will rub against each other and begin to wear away, this can change the shape of the joint.
What are the symptoms I should look out for?
Rheumatoid Arthritis - Apart from the joint pain and swelling if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis then your joint may become stiff, you may feel tired, depressed or irritable, you might feel like you have the flu, lose weight or suffer from anaemia.
Osteoarthritis - The main symptoms of Osteoarthritis are pain, usually when moving the joint; stiffness, usually after rest, this will normally wear off as you start moving swelling may either be soft caused by extra synovial fluid or hard which can be due to osteophytes restrictive activity -poor joint may mean you cannot use it as easily as normal, sometimes even giving way at times muscles surrounding the joint may become weak.
“The pain was intolerable. My life was unbearable.” – Nick Hastings
How do I know for sure that I have it?
To diagnose Osteoarthritis a health professional shall perform a physical check on the patient knowing which symptoms to look for. Also, diagnostic devices such as MRI and X-ray will show any degradation of cartilage.
What causes it?
Nothing specifically causes Osteoarthritis but there are many factors that can increase the risk of getting it. Osteoarthritis is more common in people in their 50’s and up although can occur at any age.
Women are more likely to suffer especially in the knees and hands. Weight is an important risk factor, being overweight puts more pressure on your joints meaning you are more likely to suffer, especially in the knees.
Joint abnormalities that you were born with can lead to an early onset. Some genetic factors can contribute to the likelihood of suffering, there is research currently going on to understand this more. Lifestyle plays a big part, either a very sedentary life or an extremely demanding one can lead to this.
Finally, injuries are a major factor. If you have had a major injury or surgery on a joint then you are more than likely to have Osteoarthritis in that joint at some point.
How do I manage the pain?
There are a few things that you can do to help manage the pain from arthritis. One of the best ways is to strengthen the muscles around the affected joint(s). This will help with stability, protect the joint and reduce pain. Aerobic exercise is very important too, low impact exercises like swimming and yoga can be beneficial but understanding which exercises are best for your problem is imperative, see a physiotherapist to find out which.
Reducing pressure on the joints might help, your footwear can help or hinder you here, soft thick soles are your friend. A walking stick when the right size and used correctly can help either short or long term. Slightly changing things around at home and at work to make it less of a strain to get to might be beneficial, maybe even driving an automatic car rather than manual.
Knee braces and back supports can be very helpful, getting expert advice to get the right one for you should be taken first. Warmth and/or ice can help, remember to never apply either direct to the skin and only in 10/15minute cycles, i.e. 10mins on, 10 mins off. If you are overweight then losing weight will certainly help you too.
Is there a treatment?
Many treatments are purely symptomatic and do not stop the arthritic process but only help with the pain for a while. Injections or intravenous infusions with painkillers, hyaluronic acid and other medication are usually combined with physiotherapeutic measures to relieve the symptoms.
However, in these cases the disease itself progresses. In the end, a surgical procedure might become necessary to replace the worn out joint with an artificial one.
The power of MBST technology
Molecular biophysical stimulation - The non-surgical MBST therapy has a different therapy approach and aims at preserving the natural joint. It targets the degeneration of cartilage – one of the major causes for osteoarthritis.
The metabolism is the basis for all vital body processes and requires a lot of energy. This energy is also needed in cartilage tissue to form, preserve and repair the tissue. If the cartilage cells lack energy, endogenous repair mechanisms can no longer be performed and cartilage degeneration occurs.
Chondrocytes in the distinct zones of hyaline cartilage differ in size, shape and metabolic activity. Each chondrocyte is responsible for maintaining the extracellular matrix and metabolism in its direct vicinity. Small defects can partly be repaired by healthy chondrocytes. But cartilage tissue contains few blood vessels and has a slow metabolic activity so that regeneration takes a long time.
Defects in the articular cartilage affect the repair mechanism due to insufficient matrix metabolism. Then the cartilage cells have to increase their metabolism to keep up the ECM metabolism. In the degenerative arthritic processes, the chondrocytes are no longer able to compensate for the degenerated cartilage. The consequence may be an irreparable and complete loss of the layer of cartilage.
Where does MBST therapy come into it?
This is the starting point for MBST therapy. The MBST therapy system has been developed to transfer energy to the cartilaginous tissue in a targeted manner. Its objective is to increase the metabolism and thereby re-trigger the body’s own repair mechanisms and regeneration processes. MBST therapy thus directly tackles one of the causes of osteoarthritis.
MBST therapy is based on the physical principle of magnetic resonance, in which hydrogen nuclei take up energy and then release it again partly into the surrounding tissue. Scientific data suggests that MBST magnetic resonance technology stimulates various biophysical processes and triggers anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects.[6,7,8] Damaged cells shall be influenced in such a way that natural regenerative processes can be triggered. The treated tissue shall regain as much functionality as possible.
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