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Your first step to recovery

Osteoporosis

 

Osteoporosis is a condition which results in weak and brittle bones- to such degree that a fall or even mild stresses like coughing or bending over may result in a fracture. Bones are living tissues which are continually being broken down and replaced. However, your bones become osteoporotic when the formation of new bone does not keep up with the loss of old bone. This condition typically develops over time without any pain or other major symptoms, and is generally not diagnosed until you have sustained a fracture. The hip, pelvis, upper arm, spine and wrists are the most common structures affected by osteoporosis- related fractures.

 

 

How do you know if you have Osteoporosis?

 

Because there are no obvious early warning signs and symptoms, it is difficult to pre-diagnose osteoporosis. You may be unaware that you have this condition perhaps till you have one of the following:

  • Sustained a fracture from an incident more easily than you should have- like a simple fall or a bump
  • A decrease in the height of your spinal vertebrae over time
  • Change in posture – stooping or bending forwards
  • Back pain, due to a fractured or collapsed vertebra

Please see your doctor if you experience the following:

  • If you are over the age of 50 and have sustained a fracture
  • Sustained a spine, wrist, or hip for the first time
  • Sustained a fracture more easily than you should have (a simple fall or after a slight bump)

 

Risk factors

Key factors which may increase your risk of developing osteoporosis include:

  • Females- particularly post-menopausal Caucasian and Asian women
  • Over the age of 50
  • Excessive consumption of caffeine or alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Having a smaller or petite body frame
  • Poor physical activity levels and leading a very sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Having low levels of vitamin D and poor dietary calcium intake
  • Decreasing levels of testosterone with ageing in men
  • Estrogen deficiency in women (irregular periods, early (before turning 40) or post-menopausal, surgical removal of the ovaries)
  • Use of long-term medication such as thyroid and epilepsy medications, corticosteroids
  • Having medical conditions such as gastrointestinal diseases; endocrine diseases; rheumatoid arthritis; cancer; and blood disorders

 

 

How will you be diagnosed?

Your doctor will review your signs and symptoms, family and medical history. You may be referred on for a specialized X-ray or CT scan to evaluate the bone density to help diagnose osteoporosis. Your bone density will be classified by comparing it to the typical bone density for a person of equivalent gender, size, and age.

 

 

How is Osteoporosis treated?

The treatment pathway chosen for the management of this condition is dependent on results of your bone density scan, gender, age, medical history and severity of the condition. Potential treatments for osteoporosis may include exercise, making positive lifestyle changes, vitamin and mineral supplements, and medications. Please consult your doctor for appropriate advice and treatment options.

 

 

How can Physiotherapy help?

 

Your physiotherapist will help you strengthen your bones and your muscles through a personalized and graduated rehabilitation program. Components of this rehabilitation program may include weightbearing aerobic exercises, resistance training using free weights/resistance bands/bodyweight resistance, and exercises to enhance posture, balance and body strength. Your physiotherapist will work with you to find activities that suit your needs and as per your physical activity level.

 

 

Dealing with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic inflammatory condition associated with swelling, pain, fatigue, and joint deformity. Although there are no known cures for this condition at present, a combination of treatments are available to help manage your symptoms. RA is the 2nd most common form of arthritis after osteoarthritis and is known to affect 1–2% of New Zealand’s population.

 

 

Signs and Symptoms

RA may develop very quickly or gradually over time, with its signs and symptoms, as well as the severity varying from one person to another. This condition is associated with episodes of remission and flare ups, with or without apparent triggers.

Other symptoms may include

 

  • Swollen, tender joints- (often accompanied by warmth and redness)
  • Joint pain
  • Joint stiffness which worsens in the mornings and after a period of inactivity
  • Fever, loss of appetite weakness, and fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Changes to the skin and nails

In the early stages of RA, you may notice its impact on your smaller joints- especially in your toes and fingers. And as this condition develops, your symptoms typically branch out to the bigger joints- your shoulders, ankles, knees, wrists, hips and elbows. Symptoms are likely to affect your joints bilaterally. Over time, RA also causes joints to deform and shift out of place.

Because RA is a systemic condition, it is estimated that approximately 40% of the RA population may experience symptoms and signs other body systems than the joints. These may include:

  • Kidneys, lungs, heart
  • Skin, eyes, mouth
  • Bone marrow
  • Nerves and blood vessels

 

 

Causes and Risk Factors

Your immune system is designed to help protect your body from infection and disease. However, in RA, changes occur in your immune system that (for poorly understood reasons), causes it to mistakenly attack the healthy soft-tissues of joints resulting in pain, swelling and inflammation. Because of this ongoing process, over time damages to the lining of your joints and other soft-tissues may lead to bone erosion and joint deformity. It can also have an impact on your heart, lungs, nerves, eyes and skin.

One can get RA at any age, although it is more probable to develop in those in the age bracket of 25-50 years old. Though rare, under 16s may also develop Juvenile RA or Still’s disease.

Risk factors for the development of RA include:

  • Family history of RA
  • Age bracket of 25-50 years old
  • Smoking
  • Women are more likely to develop RA than men
  • Obesity

 

 

 

Diagnosis

 

At present there is no single test to confirm a clinical RA diagnosis. It is often difficult to differentiate this condition in its initial stages from other forms of connective tissue inflammation (fibromyalgia, lupus, gout etc.).

Your doctor will get your full medical history (as well as any familial history of RA), discuss your signs and symptoms, undertake a physical assessment- particularly of your joints, and refer you on for imaging and blood tests. X-rays may help evaluate RA progression in your joints over time, whilst MRI and ultrasound imaging may help evaluate the severity of RA in your body. The blood test will evaluate your level of anti-bodies and proteins (including the rheumatoid factor protein that is present in approximately eighty percent of the RA population), and markers of inflammation.

 

 

Management

At present, though there is no cure for RA, a range of treatments are available which may help slow its’ progression and reduce pain and inflammation, minimise and/or prevent joint damage and maximise joint movement.

A combination of prescribed medication as advised by your doctor and other treatment options as noted below are recommended:

  • Cease smoking if you are smoker
  • Physiotherapy will help improve and maintain your joint range of motion, increase your muscle strength, and decrease your pain. Additionally, your physiotherapist or occupational therapist will be able to teach you ways of using your body efficiently to reduce stress on your joints
  • Finding a balance between rest and activity
  • Use of heat and cold packs to help ease pain and inflammation
  • The use of splints or braces for joint support as needed
  • Hydrotherapy- exercising in water reduces the pressure on your joints, whilst the warmth of the water will relax your muscles and help lessen your pain.
  • Seeking regular medical advice and check-ups to monitor your RA symptoms and the progression of the condition
  • Adopting a healthy and active lifestyle

Dealing with De Quervain’s

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is categorised as an overuse disorder which affects the tendons in your wrist that you use to straighten your thumb. It is associated with swelling in the two tendons around the base of your thumb, which then causes the sheaths encompassing these tendons to become inflamed. This results in increased pressure on surrounding nerves as well, resulting in symptoms such as numbness, tenderness and pain. You are likely to have these symptoms when making a fist, gripping or grasping something, pinching, twisting your wrist, and/or laterally bending your thumb.

Symptoms

The key distinguishing symptom of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is tenderness and/or pain at the base of your thumb. You can experience pain referring up or down your forearm. You may notice the pain gradually develop or appear suddenly, and worsen when using your wrist, thumb and hand. Painful movements include making a fist, gripping or grasping something, twisting your wrist, pinching, and/or laterally bending your thumb.

Other key symptoms include:

  • Swelling at the base of your thumb
  • Experience numbness along the back of your index finger and thumb
  • ‘Snapping’ or ‘catching’ sensation experienced when you move your thumb

Causes

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is typically associated with the chronic overuse of your thumb, hand and wrist. When undertaking movements like gripping, grasping, clenching, pinching, or wringing items in your hand, the two tendons in your lower thumb and wrist usually glide in a smooth manner via the small tunnel which attaches them to the base of your thumb. However, when you repeat a certain movement day in day out, it irritates the sheath around these two tendons, resulting in swelling and thickening which restrict their movements.

Factors which may increase your risk of developing this condition are:

  • Being in the age bracket of 30 to 50 years old
  • Pregnancy
  • Found more commonly in women.
  • Baby care: Lifting, carrying and/or holding your child repetitively with using your thumbs as leverage.
  • Hobbies or occupations which involve repetitive wrist and hand movements

Diagnosis

Your doctor or physiotherapist will discuss your medical and occupational history, and carry out a physical assessment of your wrist and hand.

The physical examination will include palpation for pain when pressure is applied to the thumb side of the wrist, as well as clinical test called the Finkelstein test. This test requires you to bend your thumb across the palm of your hand and bend your fingers down over your thumb. You will then bend your wrist towards your little finger. If this causes pain on the thumb side of your wrist, you are likely to have this condition.

Whilst X-rays are usually not needed for the diagnosis, however, you may be referred on for ultrasound imaging.

Management

The aim of the management for this condition is to reduce pain caused by the irritation and inflammation of the tendons, preserve movement in the wrist and thumb, and prevent its reoccurrence. If treatment is commenced early, the symptoms should subside in 4-6 weeks. If your symptoms arise during pregnancy, they may settle around the end of the pregnancy or post the breast-feeding stage.

  • Splints may be utilised to immobilise and rest your wrist and thumb
  • Ice application to the affected area
  • Your doctor may recommend the use of anti-inflammatory medication to ease swelling and decrease pain
  • Avoiding pinching with your thumb when moving your wrist from side to side
  • Avoidance of aggravating repetitive movements and activities
  • Administration of corticosteroid injection into the tendon sheath can ease pain and decrease swelling if recommended by your GP
  • Physiotherapy: Your physiotherapist will examine how you use your wrist and provide suggestions on how to make technique modifications to relieve stress on your wrists. They will teach you strengthening exercises for your wrist, hand and arm to help decrease pain and limit tendon irritation
  • Surgery may be recommended by your specialist in more severe cases and if conservative management fails

We Want You To Understand Your Pain

What is pain?

Pain is the brain giving out a message to protect you . It is part of our bodies natural defense system.

When an event occurs that we need protecting from, our brains response is to increase our pain. Living things detect and respond to stimulus. | Characteristics of living  things, Natural hairstyles for kids, Characteristics

Example: Putting a hand on a hot pan. You feel pain, which is the brain giving you a warning signal to move your hand away.

Pain is all about protection, never about measuring the condition of the tissues in the body.

In this instance we experience a high level of pain to prevent a bigger injury eg. causing a burn.

This is our bodies way of protecting us

So what is happening in our brain?

  • We as human beings are amazingly adaptable. The longer we have pain, the longer our brains learn to produce pain.

  • It hurts in the tissues (back, knee, hand), but the problem is in the nervous system. There is an adaptation within our nervous system.

Long term pain or Chronic pain

Chronic pain is defined as persistent or recurrent pain lasting longer than 3 months

If you have had pain for more than 3 months, your system is now overprotective. Your nervous system and immune systems have learnt.

 

Movement is medicine: why exercise therapy reduces chronic pain - Hinge  Health

 

  • With chronic pain the buffer size is increased- therefore pain comes on quicker than before.

  • You get pain when you are not anywhere near being in danger.

Management of chronic pain:

  • Identify why your brain is protecting you – fear, anxiety, quality of movement, posture, injury

  • Reduce the size of your buffer – desensitization, reassurance, progressive load management

  • Understand your pain- know that it may not go completely, but can become more manageable

Medication:

  • Depending on the type of pain you are experiencing, painkillers/NSAID’s may be beneficial in the short term – speak to your GP/pharmacist

  • Note: the research does not show good outcomes for the long-term use of medication to treat chronic pain.

Occupational Therapy:

  • If you have been off work because of your pain – try to return to work asap. An OT can discuss and plan a gradual return to work plan for you

  • They can also assist by providing aids to helps with daily tasks such as getting out of bed, or putting on shoes.

Physiotherapy:

  • There is no quick fix for persistent pain. We can help guide you along your journey to recovery

  • With persistence and hard work you can learn to adapt and cope with your pain

  • Movement is king – it is critical for retraining the system

  • Movement gradually suppresses the pain system.

  • Finding any form of exercise or movement that you enjoy and gradually increasing the volume over time

  • Moving regularly- on your good days and your bad days

Self Help:

  • Meditation or mindfulness – Apps such as Headspace or Calm are easy to use and will guide you through the process

  • The Pain ToolKit