Can An Osteopath Help With Arthritis?

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Did you know that according to recent statistics, 350 million people have arthritis, and this number is increasing daily? There is no cure for arthritis and no prevention for this disease. However, with help from a qualified osteopath, joint pains that are a barrier to everyday work can be reduced.

An osteopath is a certified physician who helps treat arthritis patients. Instead of prescribing pain killers, sleeping pills, or inflammatory medicines, an osteopath prefers healing the body through gentle exercises mostly involving light stretching, joint mobility, and massages. 

So, the main question is, can an osteopath help with arthritis? Here we’ll look into an overview of arthritis and how an osteopath can help. Let’s get started!

Arthritis – Overview


In non-medical terms, arthritis is joint pain occurring in different body parts. You have arthritis if you may be experiencing the following body aches:

  1. Wrist pain
  2. Lower back pain 
  3. Shoulder pain
  4. Neck pain
  5. Early morning stiffness

There is nothing to be alarmed about with arthritis. It is difficult to bear the pain but it is not a severe medical condition. As mentioned above, everyone experiences arthritis. Even people in their early twenties may become a victim of this condition.

Arthritis can be caused by:

Poor posture – Lower back pain is usually a result of a slouching position.

Lighting heavy items – Carrying weight more than you can manage or picking up heaving items improperly may generate pain in the lower back, wrists, or knees.

Old injuries – Could be a sporting injury or any other type of injury.

Lack of exercise – Sitting for long hours a day may cause the joints to lose mobility. 

Unhealthy diet – Not consuming the proper amount of nutrients and vitamins may also result in body aches due to a lack of nourishment.

There are two main categories into which arthritis can be divided:

  1. Degenerative also known as osteoarthritis
  2. Inflammatory also known as rheumatoid arthritis


It is the most common type of arthritis known as wear and tear. Like a machine that starts breaking down due to old parts, the body experiences the same thing. The wear is the lack of mobility due to the cartilage wearing out, leading to the tear, which is the pain.

The cartilage is the barrier between the bones. It prevents the bones from touching each other, helps in weight distribution, and is a natural shock absorbent. Slowly but surely, as the cartilage begins to break down, the bones come closer together.

The body starts to repair the damage, which results in bone spurs or new bone growth. The abnormal bone growth is a substitute for the missing cartilage but if they rub against each other, it results in pain and, in time, loss of flexibility and mobility.

Osteoarthritic joints have limited movement due to the pain, and these factors affect the delivery of blood and nutrients, both of which are vital for tissue healing. This causes inflammation. Since the cartilage is not getting the required vitamins and minerals to regenerate properly, it will take time for the swelling and the pain to go down.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Unlike osteoarthritis, which is the wear and tear of cartilage, rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease. In this condition, the immune system mistakes the healthy cells for some kind of virus and starts to attack them.

The attack usually occurs in the joints causing inflammation in that part of the area, specifically the joint tissue, which is the cartilage. Instead of the cartilage becoming worn out, the autoimmune system release extra fluid, which attacks the joints.

The fluid grows in the joint, causing inflammation. As the inflammation increases, it pushes the joints out of shape and causes damage to the joint area and the surrounding bone.

Apart from pain and stiffness, there are other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis that are different when compared to osteoarthritis.

  1. Redness, swelling, and warmth in the affected joint area
  2. Fever
  3. Weight loss
  4. Lack of energy

Rheumatoid Arthritis not only attacks the joints but affects the whole body. The reason why the immune system acts in such a way is still unknown but with the proper medication and exercise, the disease can be controlled.

How Osteopaths Can Help With Arthritis

Medication is the first thing a doctor prescribes to deal with the inflammation caused by arthritis. It works but, unfortunately is not a remedy. There is no cure for arthritis, but it can be controlled without ingesting medicines. The best form of help is to seek treatment from a certified osteopath.

A good osteopath can greatly reduce pain, ease swelling, and improve mobility. Before diving into the exact problem and providing a solution, an osteopath will do a full body assessment. Here is what to expect from your osteopath.

Body Assessment

The osteopath will ask about your pain. The parts of the body that hurt and what kind of discomfort you experience when moving that joint. Any medical history such as injury, surgery, and medications should be shared for a complete analysis.

The first session usually includes a physical examination. The osteopath will perform some light mobility to determine your flexibility and press the affected area to try and determine how weak your muscles are. You may even have to perform some movements as well if asked.

If required, he may also ask you to get an x-ray to have a more visual representation of your condition.

Treatment Options

After the assessment, they will give you a detailed explanation of your condition and the best treatment to relieve the pain.

Treatments usually include:

  • Massage to relax the muscles
  • Joint mobility exercises
  • Diet plan to help lose weight and eat healthily
  • Strengthening of muscles

A session will last on average of 45 minutes and as the pain and mobility improve so does the exercise to strengthen the muscles further.

Can An Osteopath Make Things Worse?

There are wrong impressions that an osteopath may make things worse, and it is not true. If you have a qualified physician, there is nothing to worry about anything going wrong. In the beginning, you may feel that your body is hurting more or the joints have become stiffer. All of this is normal, but it is wise to inform your osteopath of any pain, during or after a session.


What therapy is good for arthritis?

Physical therapy is good for arthritis. Not only does it improve mobility, flexibility but it also reduces pain. You can also perform the exercises at home and skip the medication.

Can an osteopath help with rheumatoid arthritis?

Yes, they can assist those with rheumatoid arthritis by performing light exercises, but for this disease, medication may be necessary.

Is it normal to be in pain after osteopathy?

Yes, you may feel stiff after the first few treatments, but this should go away as the therapy continues.



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