Arthritis Pain Compared to Other Joint Pain

Arthritis pain is sometimes confused with other sorts of joint pain. When a joint that is not arthritic is causing discomfort, often it is because the joint is too stiff or is moving too much. This is called mechanical joint pain. “Choosing what sort of pain you have is important so that you can get the right treatment as soon as possible” says Brighton chiropractor, Matthew Bennett.

Mechanical Joint Pain

Mechanical joint problems are caused by the bangs and knocks of everyday life or by an accident leading to injury. If the injured joint is stiff and moving to little then it is called hypomobility. If the joint has become lax and is moving too much it is called hypermobility. In both of these cases the joint can become inflamed and painful. If this goes on long enough the nerve endings in and around the joint can become sensitised to pain leading to yet more agony. If this occurs in the spine it can cause Facet Joint Syndrome.

When the nerve endings get irritated in this way the body’s movement sensors send alter the messages to the brain. The technical name for this body awareness is proprioception.

Mechanical joint ache is often worse with certain positions like standing for long time but it tends to be eased with rest. Although you might be stiff initially after arrest generally mechanical joint problems are better with gentle activity.

Inflammatory Joint Pain

Inflammatory joint pain is due to one of the many sorts of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis. In this sort of inflammatory arthritis often the joint itself is attacked by the body’s autoimmune response. The joint cartilage is attacked and the joint becomes inflamed and painful. In this sort of arthritis the discomfort is often worse with activity and the more you do the worse it gets.

Diagnosing the difference between mechanical joint pain and inflammatory arthritis can often be quite tricky. Indeed, sometimes you can have both going on at the same time. Inflammatory arthritis often shows up on blood tests, whereas mechanical joint pain does not. X-rays and MRI imaging often don’t help much, especially in the early stages.

People with inflammatory arthritis tend to have other symptoms as well like general muscle aches and pains all over the body and the symptoms tend to affect both arms as well as legs symmetrically. Mechanical joint pain on the other hand, will often only affect one or two joints, often on one limb. You can of course have both types of joint problems.

Treatment of Inflammatory Versus Mechanical Joint Pain

Inflammatory joint problems tends to be treated with strong drugs like steroids or specific anti-arthritis drugs. Mechanical joint pain on the other hand, can be helped with a combination of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as well as physical treatments like chiropractic, physiotherapy and exercises.

In mechanical joint pain, it is important to get prompt treatment. If the symptoms last longer than a couple of weeks. Most mechanical joint problems will get better within a week or two. So if it isn’t it may be starting to become chronic and long-lasting. Indeed 4/5 people who have an episode of back pain and don’t get proper treatment still have grumbling back ache a year later.

In both inflammatory and mechanical joint problems laser treatment can be helpful. It is painless and completely safe. In fact NICE, the clinical guidelines watchdog, have recommended it for osteoarthritis of, for example, the knee.

In back problems NICErecommend manipulation as done by chiropractors alongside conventional treatment. Similar guidelines exist the neck problems.

If you have a problem and would would like to know exactly what is causing it then call us for a free check with our physio’s or chiropractors. We’ll give you a brief examination and we should be able to tell you what you have and what you can do about it.

Does back pain increase as you get older?

Brighton chiropractor, back painBack pain is one of the areas that we think gets worse as we get older but is this true? We often think that as we get older we will get more aches and pains.  To find out researchers scoured all the research on the topic to see if a trend could be found. Brighton chiropractor, Matthew Bennett, sums up the latest research.

It is reasonable to assume that back pain, or lumbago as it sometimes called, will worse as we get older because of the accumulation of wear and tear, arthritis and general use and abuse. As we get older we tend to exercise less, pick up more injuries in falls and generally recover more slowly from trauma, especially in the back. In spite of this the studies over the last 10 years don’t show an increase in back ache beyond the age of 60. In fact, in some studies, back pain actually seemed to be less frequent over the age of 60 compared to the years leading up to 60.

Why doesn’t back pain get worse as we get older?

There are several theories why back pain does not get worse as we get older. It could be that the people in the research just happened to be born at a time when they were very fit and robust naturally. Computer games, television and dishwashers were not around 60 years ago so people were growing up then were less sedentary. This may be the answer. Only a study that follows a large number of people for the whole of their lives would tell and this has not been done yet.

Another theory is that we get more tolerant to pain as we get older; our pain threshold goes up perhaps. The most likely explanation seems to be, however, that we do less physically demanding activities in old age so we don’t injure our backs so much. There are not many rugby players, mountain bike riders or kick boxers over the age of 60! Also we tend to stop work around this time. So if work posture or activity, or even work stress is the factor that brings the back ache on then stopping work might help prevent future occurrences.

Here at Sundial the average age of our patients is 38. Central Brighton has a younger demographic than other parts of the country where the average age of patients with back pain is around 45. That is not to say we don’t get people in their 60’s and 70’s coming in – we do, but the peak age to get back pain is in the younger, early middle aged groups. We also treat a few teenages with back pain which brings the average down.

If you are getting back pain and want to see if chiropractic or physio treatment can help you then pop in for a free check. We can also advise on a few simple exercises that you can do at home to keep your back healthy and pain free.


Does back and neck pain become more common as you get older? A systematic literature review. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2012, 20:24


Further research on the prevalence of bone and joint problems in older people show all sorts of aches and pains do continue into old age. Women tend to get more pain than men.

What is the prevalence of musculoskeletal problems in the elderly population in developed countries?A systematic critical literature review Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2012, 20:31

Achilles tendonitis, Brighton physio explains treatment at home

Achilles tendonitis is a broad term that is used to describe a recurrent pain below the calf muscles of your leg and coming from the tendon. Sometimes more accurately called Achilles tendinopathy it is a very common injury and most sports people are curious about, whether you are an experienced athlete or someone returning to sports.

For the least experienced of us, the Achilles tendon is a band of tissue linking your calf muscles to the base of your heel. It is very strong and thick to allow you to push through your forefoot when walking, jogging, climbing stairs and doing many more activities.

Achilles tendonitis – how does it get injured and can you prevent it?

A question I am often asked is ” How do I know I have this problem and how did it come on in the first place ?” Well, in the case of Achilles tendonitis the pain slowly increases at the back of the leg and it’s often brought on by specific activities such as climbing stairs or running. If you touch the painful area you might feel thicker tissue compared to the other side. It may be warm when painful and slightly “crunchy” when you are resting.

If you have such symptoms then maybe a simple change in your routine can help you. Think about those things. Do you wear appropriate footwear on a daily basis? Did you change your exercise program or take on a new sport? Are you climbing stairs several times a day? Did you change the surface on which you do your jogging? All those can be factors which could bring on an injury.

Achilles tendonitis treatment at home?

To start with, nothing replaces the diagnosis of a healthcare professional. The following is for information only and you should still seek appropriate advice.

The main thing you should remember is that tendons like movement and activity but don’t heal if left inactive. An injury to a tendon, if not dealt with appropriately, can become a long lasting problem.

These exercises, if performed with NO PAIN, are a good start as self treatment for Achilles tendinopathy.

1. Go up on tip toes, slowly lower heels 2. Roll foot arch firmly on tennis ball 3. Back knee locked, heel on ground, lean forward

How can we help Achilles tendonitis?

By making sure that Achilles tendonitis is the right diagnosis. The internet does not carry out a physical examination where as musculoskeletal specialist does. Our physio’s will be able to differentiate between several types of potential injuries affecting similar area and carry out the appropriate treatment.

After 2 weeks it is starting to get chronic. If your pain does not subside within 2 weeks then give us a call.  It is often easier to get rid of an ache or pain when it just started!

Further treatments we use for Achilles tendonitis here at Sundial in Brighton may include:-

– Deep tissue friction to the Achilles tendon will activate the renewal of the fibres.
Laser therapy will reduced any inflammation provoked by the deep tissue friction and encourage tissue healing.
Dry needling with acupuncture needles around the site of injury to activate the renewal of fibres. This can be an alternative to deep tissue friction.
– Athletics taping (rigid tape) or kinesio taping (stretchy tape) can help to off-load the Achilles tendon during its repair phase.

Quentin Guichard BSc MCSP

Physiotherapist at Sundial Clinics


Recent research underlines the importance of laser therapy and exercises in Achilles tendonitis

Physical therapies for Achilles tendinopathy: systematic review and meta-analysis.

Sussmilch-Leitch SP, Collins NJ, Bialocerkowski AE, Warden SJ, Crossley KM.