Osteoarthritis Self Help
Beating your Hip Osteoarthritis Diagnosis - One Step at a Time
The information on this page will help you get started in your fight back against OA, It's aimed primarily at those with a hip OA diagnosis, but should help with other forms of OA too.
At the bottom of the page you'll find links to helpful articles from my blog; be sure to visit the resources page for other external links that will prove helpful in your research. If all this seems overwhelming, consider getting a copy of my book; it will shortcut the learning process dramatically, help you avoid pitfalls and dead ends, and give you a flexible and comprehensive exercise plan to speed you on your way.
First, here's my six-point list for getting started:
The most important first step is to embrace the belief that you can do something about your condition. This can be challenging in itself given that much of the information on OA that you'll encounter - whether online or given to you by health professionals - is likely to reinforce the view that arthritis is incurable.
Take heart from the fact that in many cases this material is either out-of-date or plain inaccurate; to get a more balanced and accurate picture, start by reviewing the latest guidelines and research published by the world's leading health bodies. You'll discover how imprecise and unreliable the OA diagnosis can be, and that some OA cases can and do get better.
As good a place as any to start is the following document from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. NICE is responsible for providing guidance and advice for health professionals in the UK, and is internationally respected:
There is no quick and easy fix for your condition; no drug or dietary supplement will magically cure you.
Equally there is no health professional out there - whether orthodox or fringe - who knows your body as you do, and who can dedicate the time and resources required to address the muscle imbalances that are responsible for some - possibly all - of your symptoms.
Only YOU can do this; the sooner you start, the sooner you'll see progress.
Learn how muscle imbalances develop, their effects on joint alignment and motion, and how the abnormal stress they produce can lead to a self-reinforcing cycle of injury and further adaptation/imbalance.
Understand that the pain and restriction at your hip (for example) is just the most obvious sign of a whole body problem.
Consider how the above relates to your own condition and history. Determine which of your muscles are under the most stress, which are dysfunctional, and what is holding you in this destructive pattern.
My experience and belief is that the position of the pelvis is both an indicator and predictor of muscle imbalance; if it spends most of its time twisted and rotated out of correct alignment the effects will ripple outwards through the body, preventing normal movement and causing adaptation and strain both locally at the hips and elsewhere.
What muscles are holding your pelvis in this abnormal position, and why won't they let go?
If you experience pain as part of your condition you'll need to address this first.
You'll likely find that myofascial release techniques will prove very useful in easing or even eliminating the pain. MFR is easy to learn and self-administer but it's effects in the vast majority of cases are temporary; nevertheless it can improve your quality of life and facilitate your attempts to correct your muscle imbalance.
Having gained a better understanding of your condition you can now begin to target your dysfunctional muscles with activation and strengthening exercises.
Take care when choosing and performing the exercises; your body is a master of adaptation and will find ways to cheat, using the wrong muscles to produce a given movement. Keep it simple and hone your body awareness so that you can feel when the right muscles are working.
Over time your corrections will carry over into your daily activities and you will see tangible improvements in your condition. It's then up to you to decide whether to keep pushing forward to completely resolve your muscle imbalance, or settle for the gains you've already made.
Warning! Standard exercises and treatments recommended by doctors or offered by health providers such as physical therapists, chiropractors and osteopaths are unlikely to work well. You are dealing with a complex muscle imbalance that can only be treated by understanding in detail what has gone wrong, and working from inside (by feel) to 'reprogram' and 'reset' your body. Don't be conned into paying for expensive treatments that don't work!
"I just couldn't find better words to express my gratitude, and just by following your suggestions on which muscles to strengthen, I'm back to normal, no pain at all" - Cat
A Guide to the Resources on this Web Site
The most important quality in the fight against OA is tenacity. Whatever problems you run into - however impossible it feels - DO NOT GIVE UP. There are plenty of resources on this website to help you keep putting one foot in front of another until you succeed.
Visit the blog for a variety of articles designed to motivate and inspire you as well as sharing tips, ideas and resource that will help you in your battle with Hip OAGo to the Blog
Regular visits to the forum are an absolute must. The book provides you with the information you need to tackle this problem, but it's through discussion with myself and others that things will really start to click into place.Visit the Forum
The Self Help Book
Everyone is free to use all of the resources on this website whether they've purchased the book or not. However, the self help book provides a great deal of important information that's not available anywhere else. It will make your task much easier!Learn More About the Book
The resources page provides links to useful tools, books and online material that will help you in your OA battle.View Resources
The treatment plan in the book is suitable for everyone. However, athletes (and wannabe athletes) will be pleased to know that extreme training and the pursuit of challenging fitness goals can be part of your rehab.Learn More
If all else fails - drop me a line! I can't promise to answer everyone personally, but I'll do my best. At the very least I'll read all the messages and do my best to provide material on the web site to answer questions and provide solutions to problems.Go to the Contact Page
About the Self Help Book
After repeatedly being told "you should write a book about this", that's what I did. My self-help guide exposes still-prevalent myths about osteoarthritis and explains how to identify muscle imbalances that can lead to, or exacerbate, the symptoms of OA. It concludes with diagnostic tests to establish the precise nature of your imbalance and a series of self-administered physiotherapy exercises designed to correct those imbalances.More Information / Purchase
"Results in one week!"
"Great book, have completed the exercise plan, hip pain gone"
"This Book is a Miracle Worker!"
"This is a must read...and a MUST DO for anyone with hip issues!!"
"Best Book Ever Written"
"Puts the "diagnosis" of osteoarthritis into perspective"
Getting the Best Out of the Forum
The discussion forum is primarily designed to expand upon and supplement the information in the book.
Make a point of signing up to the forum and introducing yourself in the "About You" section as early as you can; having done this, you'll feel much less inhibited about asking for help when you need it, whether that's a bit of emotional support from other members or an answer to a specific technical question.Take me to the Forum
"It is good to feel empowered, to be able to relieve the symptoms oneself. I cannot thank you enough, Susan. To be able to walk normally makes me feel euphoric!" - Claire
Useful Blog Articles
Here are a selection of articles from my blog
What kind of osteoarthritis symptoms can a muscle imbalance cause?
A lot of people wonder if they have a similar condition to mine - a curable imbalance that's causing all of their osteoarthritis symptoms. Many assume that their case must be different because they have OA diagnosed in so many joints. Here's my list of symptoms - all down to a curable muscle imbalance.read more
- The Importance of Self-Help For
People Diagnosed with Osteoarthritis
The baby boomer generation are now reaching retirement age. Currently 4 people of working age support each old age pensioner in the UK. By the time I'm 70 that is expected to have dropped to 2.5. Will pain relief drugs and joint replacement surgery still be offered by the NHS by the time we need it? Rather than leave things to chance I prefer to take control now and cure myself rather than hope that the NHS will continue patch me up indefinitely.read more
- Osteoarthritis and the role of Learned Helplessness
Take control of your osteoarthritis. Where the mind goes the body will follow. No matter how impossible it seems, when you unleash the power of your mind then good things WILL come to you. You will find a way.read more
Dealing with Osteoarthritis Pain - Trigger Points
It's hard enough winning a fight against osteoarthritis when your whole body is stiff, sore and dysfunctional. When you're in a lot of pain that battle becomes infinitely harder. Learn how to reduce or even eliminate osteoarthritis pain without toxic, addictive drugs.read more
Eliminating Pain Diagnosed as Knee Osteoarthritis
If you think your OA knee pain is coming from your joints think again. A recent pilot study indicated that treatable soft tissue problems is the primary source of pain.read more
Can I Run with Hip / Knee Osteoarthritis?
When I was first diagnosed with hip Osteoarthritis in 2006 it was still thought that running *caused* osteoarthritis in healthy joints. Research findings have since started to swing towards running actually having a protective effect on our joints. But what about people with existing osteoarthritis?read more
Resolving Hip Osteoarthritis - Case Study : Claire
I recruited a number of volunteers with diagnosed hip osteoarthritis to help me gauge how best to present information to others in my osteoarthritis self help guide. One of my 'guinea pigs', Claire has kindly agreed to let me share her progress on this blog.read more
Take me to the Blog