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Osteopath and RA

Hi experts out there,

Can an osteopath help with RA? Used to see one but not since diagnosis and starting on MTX. Apart from the usual hands, wrists, shoulders, knees, feet etc, I now seem to be experiencing lower back pain and wondered if he could help. Also, I am being sent for a body scan to check bone density - anyone have experience of this?

8 Replies

Hi Dayli1. I have been under a rheumy team for many years. I had to see osteopath recently about my shoulder. Ive seen 3 different ones & only one of them has been understanding. One of them even said i haven't got ra as i am seronegative my rheumy nurse wasnt too pleased. Personaly i think the the only people to see about ra is a rheumy team. Good luck xx Alison


The trouble with Osteopaths is they don't have a full medical training background. So I think it is risky.

I have just had a bone scan and I am waiting for the results. RA is a risk factor for osteoporosis.

I think if our bones are crumbling, we should be very careful about anyone "manipulating" them.

For low back pain, I have learned some Pilates exercises, but really, a Physio woud be a good starting point for your back I think.


I used to go an see an osteo, but one that really knew about people with RA. Eventually he said that he couldn't do much more and recommended I see a physio instead. Again, you need to find a good one (mine has RA herself so knows all about it!). But whichever you go to, make sure you quiz them hard about their knowledge of RA and understanding of what they can and can't do with your joints. I have OA, and degenerating discs in lower back, so find the physio is quite helpful when I get myself in a cramped up mess from doing stuff without taking enough care.

As for bone scan, in my health authority all women get one after 50 anyway. And it's very quick and painless (as long as you can lie down of course) and gives you a good idea about whether there are problems looming. My density was fine, despite RA, so I feel it proves that my fondness for cheese is not a bad thing!



As above, osteo don't have medical training. Physiotherapists do. In fact it was the one I see who told me to go to a dr when I first got RA, as I thought it was a trapped nerve! Everyone I know who has gone to an osteopath seems to go again and again, costs them a fortune and never seem to sort the problem out. Same as chiropractor. So personally go to see a physio, probably cost you about £30 plus but they will give you an honest opinion in my experience.


Hi all

I have had RA for 12 years and am on biologic drugs. I have found that osteopathy helps me manage chronic pain particularly in my case in my neck and shoulders. I arrange to see them when I find that I am relying too much on pain killers and this helps to reduce the pain. I have also found a lot of help from Pilates.

Osteopaths are regulated healthcare professionals just like doctors, nurses and physiotherapists. The best place to find links to all of the different regulated healthcare professions is here - - this provides links to all the different groups.

Osteopaths' training and education is broadly similar in level to that of physios. Doctors train for longer but they are all trained for what they do.

My own view is that individual osteopaths are like individual doctors, nurses etc - some are better than others and I get on with some better than others. Because you normally have to pay yourself for osteopathic treatment it is worth making sure you find someone good (we often don't get such choice in the NHS). Unfortunately for me (but not for her) my osteopath is on maternity leave at the moment - feels like one of my security blankets has been taken away. I did not go often and she did not encourage me to do so but when I did go it made such a difference.

Hope this helps

Best wishes



Thank you everybody - confirmed what I thought; Only concerned about body scan as I am a little claustrophobic and 1 hour seemed a very long time in the machine............................


I had a bone density scan a few years back and didn't have to go into a machine. It was like having an x-ray except the machine above moved along from head to feet. (It didn't take an hour either!) An MRI is different, then you are in a machine and it is claustrophobic and very noisy and takes longer. A CT is similar but not so bad. I've had all of them but peoples experiences are different I know. Good luck.


Hi Dayli1

There is a good report vy Arthritis Research UK which looks at some of the practioner-based therapies often used in RA and some other types of arthritis. It concludes that there isn't evidence of effectiveness in RA, OA or fibromyalgia.

The report only shows evidence of benefit in treating lower back pain (it scores 3 out of 5) and as it is not without risks it scores amber for its safety (using a traffic light system, where green would be safe and red unsafe). Rheumatoid arthritis does not generally effect the lower back, so it might also be worth trying to fins out other possible causes of this pain.

Here is a link to the report (click the link near the bottom of this page):

Hope this information will be useful to you.

Kind regards


(NRAS Helpline)


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