You should never fight your feelings, when your very bones believe them…
… you have to follow nature’s law.
This dictates that with the passing of time, our bodies get older, and with this ageing process come inevitable changes that cannot be fought. Instead it is important to understand these changes and learn how we can help ourselves.
Often the phrase ‘degenerative changes’ is used by health professionals when describing why someone has back pain or knee pain. What does this mean? This refers to osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative condition or joint disease. It is most common in the neck and lower back, followed by peripheral joints such as the knees.
In osteoarthritis of the spine, the spaces between the vertebrae narrow, and bone spurs can often form as the pressure on the vertebrae increases, so new bone is laid down to help distribute the pressure. However, these bone spurs (osteophytes) can impinge on spinal nerves, causing shooting pain on movement as the nerve is compressed. When the bony surfaces rub together, such as at the facet joints, the area can become inflamed and painful. Gradually, the spine stiffens and loses its flexibility.
Similarly, osteoarthritis can affect joints like the knee joint. This begins with damage to a structure in the knee, such as the meniscus, which serves as a shock absorber during activity such as running. This tissue damage causes the body to attempt repair, but during this repair, inflammatory cells are released which damage the cartilage in the joint. The process of osteoarthritis then begins.
So what can be done to ease the problems associated with osteoarthritis? Freeing up stiffened joints is one of the most effective ways of managing osteoarthritic pain and reducing disability as a result of the condition. Reducing tension in the muscles around the affected joint can aid in reducing pain and inflammation too. Exercises can also be prescribed to help the person help them self, as treatment will provide relief and help, but self-maintenance is just as important in the days between seeing the clinician.
If you are having pain and feeling stiffness, or have any muscular or joint pain or stiffness, it may be worthwhile coming to see us at Atlas Osteopathy (with clinics in East Finchley and Moorgate, as well as the option of home visits), where we can explain your problems to you, why they occur and whether or not you are suitable for osteopathic treatment. Often this can be done via email or on the phone.