Osteopathy and Arthritis

Arthritis is an inflammation of any joint. There are two types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is often described as a wear and tear of the joints caused by age, repetitive actions, and obesity and also altered postural and biomechanics (movements of the body) such as a past trauma, growth of the body, and a traumatic experience such as birth, or a vehicle accident.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is described as an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the body’s own tissue. Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the entire body with the most often affected joints being the ankles, feet, hands, knees and wrists.

The joints can be warm, tender and swollen. Typically there is a discoloration of the skin over the joint that looks purplish. Joint deformities of the hands and feet as the disease progresses are quite common.

The symptoms of arthritis center on the joints due to inflammation so specific movements and treatment techniques are used by the osteopathy medicine clinicians to encourage the movement of fluid around the joints and tissues to help in the removal of the inflammatory substances from the joints. The techniques used also reduce the pain of arthritis. Diet and lifestyle can also help to reduce symptoms of arthritis.


X-rays, blood tests, and MRI scans may be used to help assess the extent of the arthritic condition. Even though nothing can be done to undo the damage already done by arthritis osteopathic treatment can help to reduce the pain, swelling, and improve mobility and range of motion of each joint involved. Osteopathic treatment can help with neck pain, low back pain and swelling, hip pain and lack of mobility, and early morning stiffness.

The treatment’s goal is to improve the mobility and to reduce the swelling by using gentle, manual osteopathic techniques on each of the affected joints, on muscles, and also on ligaments. Exercises at home in warm water or salt baths may be suggested as well as other exercises and lifestyle changes designed to improve function and reduce pain.

You Can Do It

No patient needs to accept the advice that there is nothing that can be done about the pain and suffering of arthritis. Exercise, diet changes and lifestyle changes along with osteopathic treatment can over time reduce the pain, and increase mobility. No patient is too young or too old to receive osteopathic treatment and care by those who are dedicated to helping your body to heal itself.

No person should suffer needlessly. It is possible for your body to heal itself once osteopathic treatment has better aligned the body and allowed the various body parts to work in harmony to help the body to better function, and to restore health to the body parts as well as to heal tissue as the body reduces pain and inflammation.

This article originally appeared on Science Beta.

Boost Heart Health With Yoga

Yogis know the poses that “open” the heart, but did you know that regular practice can also help protect your ticker over the long term?

In honor of National Wear Red Day, the American Heart Association’s campaign to raise awareness of heart disease (the#1 killer of women), here are 5 ways that yoga keeps your heart going strong.

And don’t forget to wear red yoga pants on Friday to spread the word!

1. Love how you feel after class? That’s your stress melting away.

Stress may affect behaviors and factors that are proven to increase heart disease risk: high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity and overeating, according to the American Heart Association. Chronic stress may also cause some people to drink too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure and may damage the artery walls. A regular yoga practice, on the other hand, is likely to calm you down, making you less likely to lean on caffeine, sugar, fatty foods or alcohol to “numb out,” says Hazel Patterson, Urban Zen Integrative Yoga Therapist and teacher trainer at YogaWorks in Los Angeles.

“Moving with the breath, in other words linking expanding movements with the inhales, and contracting or softening movements with the exhales, starts to create a dynamic which calms the nerves and moves that stress energy out of the body,” she explains.

For your go-to bliss-out pose, Terrence Monte, a Managing Teacher at Pure Yoga in New York City, recommends the Seated Forward Bend. To make it even more delicious, place a rolled blanket or towel under your knees, and rest your forehead on a block or other prop placed on your shins.

2. It’s a feel-good workout.

Maintaining a normal BMI (body mass index) can help your heart, according to the CDC, and regular physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight. Yoga, Monte says, is the “best resistance workout on the planet” —meaning it’s easy on the joints and uses your own body weight to build strength. Become a fat-burning machine by building long lean muscle—Monte suggests Plank Pose as all-over strengthener that does double-duty by targeting your core and shoring up your back.

3. It blasts belly fat.

Excess abdominal fat has been linked to increased risk for heart disease. By strengthening the large muscle groups in the body, such as the gluteals and quadriceps, yoga gets your body burning more calories, meaning you are less likely to store them as fat around your middle, Patterson says. “Standing poses like Warrior II held for a little longer than the mind is comfortable with is a great way to build these powerhouse muscles,” she says.

4. It “opens” the heart.

What does it mean to “open” your heart mean anyway? “Asana is the practice of putting your body in challenging shapes. Yoga, on the other hand, is the practice of integrating what you learn on the mat with what you do off of it,” Monte explains. “As you become more mindful about your body, your breath, your language in challenging poses, you become more aware about your own perceptions (read: misperceptions) of the world.”

Rather than the obvious heart-openers (Fish, Camel, Locust ), Monte suggests a pose that’s really challenging to stay vulnerable in, like Chair Pose. “Sit as low as you can with your lumbar spine as long as possible for as long as you can. Notice how your mind, your language, your perceptions change as the intensity increases,” he says.

5. It changes your diet.

A healthy diet (heavy on colorful fruits and veggies, fiber and heart-healthy fish and light on red meat, saturated fat, sodium, sugar and processed foods) is critical to heart health, and studies have linked regular yoga practice to mindful eating.

“As you connect to your body, breath and perspectives in challenging shapes on the mat, you connect more to what you do to it off the mat,” Monte says. “Suddenly, if you have to do yoga in the morning, it gets much harder to have that fourth martini, that fried whatever, that extra serving of needless sugar. You develop a sense of respect for this absurdly miraculous body that has developed over millions of years of evolution.”


Article originally appeared on The Yoga Journal.