Joints

Aches and pains in knees, the back or elbows, could be a sign of a bone or joint-related problem.

There are a number of common bone problems many people suffer during their lives including arthritis, osteoporosis and hypermobility.

Hypermobility causes over flexible joints and often results in joint pain and discomfort in the back, knees or neck.

It is thought to be linked to the Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome range of conditions which can cause easy bruising, stretchy skin and wounds that heal too slowly. Early diagnosis is therefore advised to ensure it isn't one of these more serious conditions.

Ways to spot hypermobility

A feeling of being very tired and in pain after exercise with inflamed joints, and easily sustaining soft tissue injuries are main symptoms.

A doctor may then carry out The Beighton Score to assess flexibility of the joints. People with higher scores usually have some kind of hypermobility problem.

The treatment will combine physiotherapy and sensible exercise with common pain-killers and anti-inflammatory medicines.

What are arthritis symptoms?

Arthritis is a broad term for a range of common bone problems and joint conditions which cause tenderness, pain, inflammation and restriction in movement.

Two common types are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most severe, caused by the immune system attacking and deteriorating the joints.

There is no cure, but analgesics and steroids will reduce pain and inflammation. In serious cases, surgery will be performed to replace or fuse a joint or to re-align bones which may reduce the worst of the symptoms.

Risks of osteoporosis

Unlike joint pain, osteoporosis only becomes apparent when a bone is fractured after having a light fall. This deterioration in bone health can take a long time to develop as bone density diminishes.

Women are at greater risk when they experience a drop in oestrogen after their periods cease. Having a hysterectomy before the age of 45, or having absent periods for more than six months due to excessive exercise or dieting, could increase the risk.

Men may also suffer due to alcohol abuse or a low testosterone condition called ‘hypogonadism’.

To check bone density, a ‘DEXA’ scan will be used to help give an accurate diagnosis. Age, sex and any previous injuries will then be taken into consideration before final diagnosis.

Can you improve bone health?

As with all bone and joint conditions, lifestyle changes will help and natural techniques are the frontline of defence. Vitamin D from sunlight helps absorb calcium and 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise, including weight-bearing and resistance routines, can help improve bone density.

Also controlling weight will avoid stress on joints and bones, remembering to wear sensible footwear and reduce any obvious home hazards. All of these steps will help minimise problems and improve your life.

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