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What is Arthritis?

The word arthritis is derived from the Greek word arthron (joint) and suffix -itis (inflammation). For people who have arthritis, the word variously signifies pain, swelling, redness, and heat that may be caused by tissue injury or disease in the joint.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It is called a degenerative joint disease because it results from the deterioration of the bones and cartilage that make up the joints. The second most common type of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, is an inflammatory disease that affects the lining of multiple joints, especially in the hands and feet. Although it affects only one-tenth as many people as osteoarthritis, it can be far more debilitating.

An appreciation of the musculoskeletal system is vital to understanding the causes and progression of arthritis.

The arrangement of bones and muscles in the body is a marvel of engineering. The skeleton looks rickety and frail, but bones have a compression-strength equaling that of cast iron or oak. Although incredibly light — the average adult skeleton weighs only 20 pounds or so — bones are capable of bearing tremendous weight. Their strength is necessary to withstand the forces of movement.

The arrangement of muscles helps hold the skeleton together and, at the same time, provides a means of moving individual bones. Tendons and ligaments, the structures that bind bone and muscle, are made of connective tissue. The two main structural proteins of connective tissue are a variety of collagens and elastins, which imbue it with tensile strength and elasticity.

Synovial joints, like machines with moving parts, are vulnerable to friction. If a machine's moving parts come in contact with one another, friction will scratch the surfaces and cause pitting, distortion, and eventually breakage. As any do-it-yourselfer knows, you can prevent such friction in two ways: either apply a lubricant or insert a cushion, such as a rubber gasket. Fortunately, human joints are protected in both ways.

Synovial fluid (from the Greek synovia, meaning "like egg white") is a viscous, yellowish, translucent liquid. Produced by the synovium, it "oils" the joint and minimizes friction. It also helps protect joints by forming a viscous seal that enables abutting bones to slide freely against each other but resist pulling apart. This seal breaks when a joint is moved quickly or forcefully, making a popping sound. Places where tendons and muscles cross a bone or other muscle are also subject to friction. These sites are protected by tendon sheaths or bursae, which are sacs that contain lubricating fluid and act as cushions.

Articular cartilage, a tough and somewhat elastic tissue that covers the ends of bones, provides joint cushioning. Because it's about 75 percent water, cartilage compresses under pressure (as in jumping or even walking) and resumes its original thickness when the force is released, much like a very tough sponge.

Because the articular cartilage can assume a shape or mold, the opposing surfaces of a joint are perfectly matched. However, because they are complexly curved, they must be kept in proper alignment at all times to function normally. Several things maintain stability through a joint's range of motion. One is the contour and fit of the joint surfaces themselves. The hip, for example, is a ball-and-socket arrangement. With each stride, the head of the femur (thighbone) pushes deep into the cup-shaped cavity of the pelvis, providing maximum stability during walking. Most other joints are more like hinges.

Also helping to maintain bone alignment are the ligaments — tough, slightly elastic, fibrous bands that bind the bones together. For example, ligaments on either side of the finger joints prevent side-to-side bending, while ligaments stretching across the palm keep the fingers from bending too far backward.

Muscles and tendons, the fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone (and to other muscles), stabilize joints as well as move them. The best example of how this works is in the shoulder, which has such a wide range of motion, that ligament would get in the way. While the large, visible shoulder muscles supply the power to move the shoulder, the small rotator cuff muscles and tendons keep the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) from slipping out of the glenoid fossa, a shallow cup-like indentation in the shoulder blade.

Medical Massage Treatment

In Holistic Medical Massage Clinic we provide treatments for Arthritis in order to stabilize joints by releasing muscle tension and doing Range of Motion.

On the first visit the therapist evaluates the patient by screening gait patterns and measuring the positioning of the body to determine musculoskeletal distortion, biomechanical dysfunction and soft tissue pathology that causes these patterns. An exacting analysis of proper posture and biomechanics explains the cause and effect relationship to pain. Once we know how your body works, we can determine the reason why you have pain and the other symptoms.

Then the therapist develops a treatment plan that is based on the knowledge of your body. We don’t guess, we know how to treat you because of exact analysis of your body and understanding of your problem. Your therapeutic massage treatment is custom designed for you because we apply pressure and specific techniques that are unique only for your body. That’s why our treatment for your Arthritis is effective and different from others.

Once the body is balanced, the patient is able to restore an efficient way for energy to move. Free energy is used by the body to work more efficiently and improves all physiological activities.


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