Joint Pain

Understanding Your Joint Pain

Joint pain and Osteopaths – How we can help.

It is a common misconception that osteopaths only treat back pain. In reality, Osteopaths actually treat pain from many sources including the joints of the body including treatment of the “spinal joints” which is what the vertebrae of the back effectively are. Joints are complex and it is common to experience some form of joint pain at some point in your life.

A joint is where two bones meet to form an articulation allowing movement of the skeleton. The bones are held in place by strong ligaments and are supported by the surrounding tendons of muscle. In between each bone is also a layer of cartilage which gives the joint the ability to absorb shock. As a result, Osteopaths commonly treat shoulder joint pain, elbow pain, hip pain and knee joint pain that can present with a variety of common joint pain symptoms.

Causes of joint pain

There are a lot of reasons why someone may experience joint pain and most people will suffer from joint pain at least once in their life time. Lifestyle and occupation often play a huge role in the reasons and location of joint pain.

Joint pain can be caused by direct injury or trauma, for example from a fall or accident, or joint pain can result from repetitive micro injury over time. Unfortunately joint pain can also be caused by a natural degradation of joint cartilage as we get older making the joint less affective at absorbing shock, this is known as degenerative joint problems or osteoarthritis.  The most common joints affected by osteoarthritis are the knees, hips and joints of the spine especially in the neck and low back.

Some people will describe an onset of joint pain for no apparent reason or describe a gradual onset of pain which often starts as stiffness or ache around the joint. This maybe a sign that your joints are not functioning correctly or that you have problem elsewhere in the body, for example in the surrounding muscles, which is causing an altered posture and pressure on certain joints. This could be called compensatory joint dysfunction and these problems are very commonly seen and treated by Osteopaths.

Symptoms of joint problems

Symptoms of joint problems vary depending on which joint is affected however symptoms typically include:
•    pain, stiffness or ache around the joint area
•    a restriction in joint movement
•    Sharp pain if you try to move the joint quickly.
•    Avoiding weight bearing on the joint
•    Limping when walking
•    Swelling, heat or redness around the joint as a result of inflammation.

Osteopathic treatment for joint pain

Osteopaths are highly trained in anatomy, joint biomechanics and the causes of joint pain. Osteopaths will use many of the same tests that a doctor or orthopaedic consultant would do in order to asses joint function. A good osteopath will also be able to advice when you need to see your doctor for further investigations because joint pain can have  more complex medical causes that require a different approach to manual therapy, for example medication.

Once your osteopath has assessed your posture and joint function they will let you know your diagnosis and discuss your treatment options. Treatment is likely to involve joint manipulation, articulation and soft tissue work such as massage and stretching. We are also able to prescribe specific exercise programmes to rehabilitate injured joints and prevent further joint pain. Osteopaths here at The Mersea Road, Colchester Osteopathy clinic may also offer dry needling, sports taping and laser therapy as part of your course of treatment.