Staying a step ahead of arthritis

Lesley Dobson / 12 October 2016

New research into how your body clock can affect arthritis, plus how tips from other arthritis patients could help you cope with arthritis symptoms.



In its different forms, arthritis affects a huge number of people in the UK but treatment is limited, and still needs to be improved to help reduce the amount of pain and incapacity that arthritis causes.

Find more articles about arthritis on our arthritis hub

Arthritis Research UK is funding research at The University of Manchester that is looking into the role of our 24-hour body clock in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers have already found a number of proteins, created by our biological clocks that repress inflammatory pathways.

Inflammation is the main process that causes the painful symptoms, and the physical degeneration that come with arthritis. The discovery of these proteins could lead to new treatments that could help repair joints damaged by arthritis or prevent arthritis causing damage to joints.

Natalie Carter, head of research liaison and evaluation at Arthritis Research UK, said: “The research into our body clock is vital to better understand the role of 24-hour rhythms in inflammatory processes in rheumatoid arthritis as well as changes to this rhythm linking to joint damage in arthritis.

“It will be exciting to see if altering the timing of administration of drugs, for example, can maximize their therapeutic potential and minimize long-term damage to joints.

Share your everyday

Vital information on how to manage your arthritis doesn’t just come from studies; it also comes from those who live with this painful condition.

As part of their new campaign, ‘Share your Everyday’, Arthritis Research UK are asking anyone affected by this condition to share their stories of living with arthritis. This will help Arthritis Research UK develop research projects, and help some of the 10 million people affected by arthritis, discover new ways to tackle the pain of arthritis, and to find some everyday freedom. Here, Nora Boswell explains how exercise has changed her life.

Nora’s everyday arthritis story

Six months ago, Nora, 68, was struggling to cope with the pain of arthritis, and the unwelcome changes it brought with it. She was struggling to carry anything upstairs, and her muscles and joints had become far stiffer and painful.  

“I’ve learned to pace myself much more, so I don’t get to the point where I’m in pain. Six months ago I was deteriorating fairly quickly. The changes I’ve made over the last six months have put me back to how I was two years ago, which I’m really pleased about.”

Exercise has played an important part in her recovery. Nora’s exercise routine is based on recommendations from a physiotherapist, chiropractor, sports masseuse and the Internet. She was also recently part of a study for the Trust Me, I’m a Doctor TV series. “One of the experts involved in the show, Professor Conaghan, (who is also a spokesperson for Arthritis Research UK) advised me not to do high impact exercises such as jogging on the spot, but to do low impact exercise on a cross-trainer or a cycle, and swimming”.

“Professor Conaghan gave us soft stress balls, and explained that we should hold a ball, and then close our hands over it slowly. Doing this strengthens your fore-arm, which takes the pressure off your shoulders, back and hands.”

Nora goes to a Pilates class once a week, and every day she does a mixture of stretches, using a foam roller and a cross trainer. “The exercises I do are for general fitness and also concentrate on helping my knees and back.”

Learn more about the key benefits of Pilates

As well as doing exercises Nora has also found her trigger spots for pain in her every-day life. “If I do a repetitive job for too long, I get muscle aches in my back and shoulders. I stop what I’m doing, and then stretch, exercise or just rest. It can happen when I’m making jam, and have to keep stirring it, or I’m driving and the journey takes longer than it should. I can get very stiff and achy.”

Nora also has a secret weapon against backaches and pains. “It’s my trusty tennis ball. If your shoulder’s feeling a bit tight, or you have an achy back, just put the tennis ball on the sore point, between your back and the back support of a sofa or train seat, for instance. Move it gently until you find the sore point, and lean back on the ball ever so gently, until the pain goes. It’s a bit like having your own masseur with you.”

www.arthritisresearchuk.org/shareyoureveryday

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