Physiotherapy For Arthritis

There are two major types of Arthritis:

  • Inflammatory Arthritis

Inflammatory arthritis is a group of autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Inflammatory arthritis is caused by an overactive immune system, in which inflammatory chemicals are released, causing the immune system to attack healthy joint tissue. Symptoms include joint pain, swelling and tenderness, and the joints may feel warm. Prolonged stiffness in the morning, lasting more than 30-60 minutes, is common in inflammatory arthritis. Inflammatory arthritis is often hereditary, and can develop earlier in life that osteoarthritis. It requires specialist investigation through rheumatology for diagnosis.

  • Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, or OA, is more common, and is most often seen in people over the age of 50. OA is a condition primarily involving the cartilage of the joints. Over time, and with normal age-related changes, the cartilage can become worn, and the production of synovial fluid that helps with joint fluidity is reduced. The affected joint can become stiff and swollen, and bony growths can develop which can cause more pain. Symptoms include joint pain, swelling and restricted movement. Morning stiffness can be present, but usually lasts less than 30 minutes.

There are a few factors that are thought to increase the risk of developing OA. These include:

  • Sedentary lifestyle – the cartilage in the joints respond well to load and become more resilient through weight bearing and resistance-based activity. Weight bearing and resistance-based activity also improves the general health of joints. More sedentary activities can reduce the resilience of the cartilage, making it more susceptible to degenerative changes
  • Obesity – increased weight can put excessive strain on the joints, especially weight bearing joints such as the knees and hips
  • Age – OA prevalence increases with age
  • Sex – OA is more common in women
  • Secondary arthritis – OA can be triggered by a preexisting condition where there are already some joint changes, such as rheumatoid arthritis

Investigations such as x-ray aren’t usually required, as it is unlikely to change the management of this condition. OA is a long-term condition, meaning that the arthritis itself can’t be cured, but symptoms of pain and reduced function may improve with appropriate treatment and advice, which can help to prevent further deterioration.

Management strategies for OA include:

  • Activity modification and pacing of activity
  • Increasing activity levels
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Steroid injections for pain management
  • Ostenil injections for improved joint health and longevity

Arthritis Physiotherapy Treatment may include something as simple as a home exercise programme. Typically this would include strengthening and range of movement exercises, recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines. By strengthening the muscles around the affected joint and improving the joint mobility this can reduce symptoms.

If you think you may have arthritis, assessment by one of our physiotherapists can help with diagnosis, understanding your symptoms and how to manage them. Our physiotherapists will help guide you through a treatment plan that is tailored to you and your individual goals. Get in touch to book an appointment by calling 0191 285 8701 or emailing us at


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No matter whether your condition was caused by a sport, work accident or otherwise, we welcome the chance to serve you.

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