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  1. To help tone your muscles.
  2. To boost your immune system.
  3. To reduce the risk of cancer.
  4. To help you sleep better.
  5. To help you keep fit.
  6. To activate stronger and healthier bones.
  7. To make you feel more energetic.
  8. To improve your confidence.
  9. To help strengthen your heart.
  10. To help raise money for a charity.
  11. To enjoy nature.
  12. To keep your weight in check.
  13. To help prevent osteoporosis.
  14. To boost your Vitamin D levels.
  15. To make you feel happy.
  16. To lower your blood pressure.
  17. To lower your cholesterol.
  18. To delay ageing.
  19. To increase lung capacity.
  20. To reduce stiffness and pain.
  21. To lower your blood sugar levels.
  22. To improve your mental health.
  23. To help you lose weight.
  24. To enjoy something that is free.
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Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis that affects the back. It can occur anywhere along the spine. Usually, the low back and sometimes the neck is affected.

If the neck is affected then it is usually called cervical spondylosis. Spondylosis means ‘arthritis in the spine’ and cervical is the medical term for the neck.

In Osteoarthritis, the cartilage that pads the ends of the bones wears down. Spinal Osteoarthritis can occur in the facet joints which are the small joints located between and behind vertebras.

When you move, the bones rub together painfully. Bony growths (called spurs) form in the joints. These spurs can press on nerves, causing more pain. The discs between the vertebrae in the spine can also become thinner.

The last MRI of my spine showed that I had degenerative changes to my thoracic spine and disc osteophyte complex in my cervical spine which in broad terms means I have osteoarthritis in my cervical and thoracic spine with multiple bony spurs. This can mean that your back or neck doesn’t move as smoothly as it used to, and it might feel stiff or sore.

The spine is sometimes called the vertebral column or spinal column. Its purpose is to protect your spinal cord, carry the weight of your body and help you move around. The spine is split into five sections – cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum and coccyx.

Osteoarthritis can affect anyone at any age, but it’s more common in women and people over 50. People who are overweight are also more likely to have Osteoarthritis. Repeated joint stress from work or sports can increase your risk. Plus a back injury or multiple spinal surgeries can lead to osteoarthritis. The genes people inherit from their parents can also affect the risk of osteoarthritis developing.

One of the first signs of osteoarthritis of the spine is usually pain and stiffness in your back or neck. Turning your neck or straightening your back may be hard. However, the low back is the most common site of pain. Another sign is stiffness, especially first thing in the morning or after having a rest. You may have a feeling of grinding when moving and tenderness and swelling.

If it is your neck that is affected by osteoarthritis then you may also feel pain down your arms and shoulders. All of the above apply to me.

Some people find the pain wakes them in the night. You’ll probably find that you have a mixture of good and bad days and that the amount of pain you have changes.

If you are overweight then obviously losing some would help. They also suggest physical therapy to improve your muscle strength and ability to move your spine. I am seeing a physiotherapist who is helping me build up my muscle strength. She also gives me acupuncture which is another type of treatment they suggest you try. Anti-inflammatory drugs seem to be the most common drug given as well as pain killers and steroid injections. I have all these and find the injections give me the best pain relief but you are only allowed a limited amount of these in one year.

Spinal stenosis is another condition that happens when the spinal canal, which contains the spinal cord, gets narrower. The most common symptoms are pain and weakness or numbness in the area linked to the affected part of the spine – such as the legs, arms, neck, back or shoulders. Spinal stenosis is often caused by osteoarthritis, as the bony spurs that form on the edge of the vertebrae can irritate the nerves in your spine.

Treatment for spinal stenosis is the same as you are given for osteoarthritis.

They say the most important thing is to keep yourself moving. Exercise will also help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, which will reduce strain on your spine and your legs. About 20 minutes a day can make a big difference to the pain in osteoarthritis and even a 20-minute walk will help.

Whatever you decide to do to help your pain always remember to check with your GP first or see a physiotherapist who can give you a specific program to follow.

Source: Versus Arthritis, Arthritis Org

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What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis and can cause joints to feel stiff and painful. It is more common in older people but can also affect younger people especially if there has been an injury to a joint. Sometimes OA causes the joints to swell and change shape, especially the finger joints, and sometimes the joints make creaking or cracking noises.

The symptoms of OA can vary a lot. Sometimes there is no pain at all and sometimes the pain can be severe and moving them is difficult. There can be a loss of muscle around the joints and this can make them feel weaker. Almost all joints can develop osteoarthritis but the most common places are the fingers, thumbs, knees and hips as well as the low back.

It may also involve the joints of the neck in older people resulting in stiffness and pain in movement. This can be severe in cases of ankylosing spondylitis.

In addition to pain from movement, a dull ache may result from a muscular effort to support and hold your head still. The pains are often felt in the back of the head or may radiate over your shoulders and down your arms and may be accompanied by tingling in your fingers.

Inside a joint with osteoarthritis, there is loss of cartilage which surrounds the ends of the bones and acts as a shock absorber and the formation of new bone which can cause the joints to look lumpy or become bent.

These symptoms are often troublesome at night and made worse by sleeping with the head in an abnormal position the result of using too many pillows and sleeping on a soft mattress.

Poor posture or sleeping heavily with too many pillows may also give rise to pain and stiffness of the neck.

According to research, they say that everyone will develop some form of osteoarthritis, eventually. If people live long enough, 100% of the entire human population will develop osteoarthritis. One of the biggest risk factors for developing osteoarthritis apart from age is obesity, genetics and gender.

Genetics can play a part in determining whether a person will develop osteoarthritis, but other factors are also at work. It is the process of the breaking down of cartilage in the joints and the inflammatory response to that.

Often no special tests are needed to diagnose osteoarthritis, but sometimes blood tests may be taken to make sure that nothing else is wrong and sometimes X-rays can help confirm the diagnosis. Sometimes MRI scans are used but these are usually not necessary. X-rays of the neck and low back are not useful in diagnosing osteoarthritis because they often show changes that happen normally with age and many people with these changes have no pain.

In hip osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the hip joint thins over time, reducing the protective layer between bones, leading to bone-on-bone rubbing and the formation of new bone spurs. These changes contribute to the symptoms of hip osteoarthritis—which include pain and stiffness in the groin, buttocks, and knee. Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease, with sequential stages. Your treatment will depend on the stage of your hip osteoarthritis.

The severity of osteoarthritis symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, and between different affected joints.

Research has shown that if you suffer from osteoarthritis pain in the knee or hip, then aerobic and stretching exercises in warm water can help to relieve it.

Treatments could include taking supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin. You should also make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D.

Hydrotherapy is another treatment used for OA which is hot water, cold water, and alternating hot and cold water. Hot water is known for stimulating the immune system and is also good for increasing your circulation. Cold water constricts blood vessels and is effective in reducing inflammation.

Using both hot and cold has been found to improve circulation. It was found that water heated between 32 degrees C to 36 degrees C slightly reduces osteoarthritis pain over three months. They say that hydrotherapy changes lives and has been proven to be a highly effective form of natural therapy which works by stimulating the endorphins, which in turn helps you to control pain and alleviate tension.

The buoyancy of the water can make some activity seem easier, while it is actually working muscles very hard. Patients should get used to how their body feels after a session in order to gauge appropriate levels of activity (i.e. not “overdoing” it).

Arthritis Research has an article on how you can access hydrotherapy through the NHS. They say that hydrotherapy sessions are available on the NHS, and most hospitals have access to hydrotherapy pools. Any member of the healthcare team should be able to refer you to an NHS physiotherapist if they think you might benefit from hydrotherapy. In some parts of the UK you can also refer yourself to a physiotherapist, who’ll assess whether hydrotherapy would be suitable for you. Check with your GP or call your local rheumatology department to find out if an NHS physiotherapist in your area will accept self-referrals.

Source: Very Well, WebMD, Versus Arthritis, NHS, Healthline, Arthritis Action