Osteoarthritis (OS-tee-oh-are-THRY-tis) also known as OA, is one
of the oldest and most common forms of arthritis. It is defined as
the wear-and-tear kind of arthritis; a disease characterized by
degeneration of cartilage and underlying bone within a joint as
well as irregular bony overgrowth. The breakdown of these tissues
eventually leads to pain and joint stiffness. The areas most
commonly affected are the knees, hips, spine and those in the
hands. The specific causes of osteoarthritis are unknown, but are
believed to be a result of both mechanical and molecular events in
the affected joint. Disease onset is gradual and usually begins
after the age of 40. Although there is currently no cure for OA, the
chiropractic method of joint mobility has shown great success in
relieving the pain and associated stiffness.
The high prevalence of osteoarthritis entails significant costs to
society. Direct costs of osteoarthritis include clinician visits,
medications, and surgical intervention. Indirect costs include such
items as time lost from work. Costs associated with osteoarthritis
can be particularly expensive for elderly persons, who face
potential loss of independence and may need help with activities
of daily living. As the populations of developed countries age over
If you have osteoarthritis, the bad news is that mobility is increasingly restricted in later stages and it only gets
worse the longer you ignore it. Luckily, if you catch it early enough you can get help to relieve the pain associated
with it and live as comfortable a life as possible. Listen to your body for any clues that you may be getting
osteoarthritis. Pain in the joint areas of your body is usually a big clue. If you have consistent pain at a level that
interferes with your daily life, and the pain lasts more than a week, it’s time to give us a call and see if chiropractic
can provide a solution for your problem.
The damaging changes that occur during the progression of OA are:
- Cartilage loses elasticity and is easily damaged by injury or use.
- Wear of cartilage causes changes to underlying bone. The bone thickens and cysts may occur under the
cartilage. Bony growths, called spurs or osteophytes, develop near the end of the bone at the affected joint.
- Bits of bone or cartilage can break away and float loosely in the joint space.
- The joint lining is further eroded further damaging the weakened cartilage.
How can chiropractic help me with osteoarthritis pain?
There is hope, particularly if you have not yet entered the degenerative stage of OA. Even then, there are some
things you can do to ease the pain and suffering and return some flexibility of movement. The goals of
osteoarthritis treatment include pain alleviation and improvement of functional status; non-pharmacologic
interventions are the cornerstones of osteoarthritis treatment. Of course chiropractic adjustments would be given
to the affected area to remove any vertebral subluxation allowing an increase in mobility and decrease in nerve
interference. This will truly help with the stiffness and pain you may be feeling.
The doctor of chiropractic may recommend rest or a change in activities to avoid provoking osteoarthritis pain.
This may include modifications in work or sports activities. It may mean switching from high-impact activities
(such as aerobics, running, jumping, or competitive sports) to low-impact exercises (such as stretching, walking,
swimming, or cycling). A weight loss program may be recommended, if needed, particularly if osteoarthritis
affects weight-bearing joints. As mentioned earlier, osteoarthritis sufferers, no matter which stage of the disease
they are in, should not give up hope. Getting older does not mean you have to suffer with joint pain. You can
arrest the development of osteoarthritis right now, no matter what stage you may be in by taking action now.
You may reduce the risk of developing OA by:
- Protecting an injured joint from further damage.
- Losing weight and maintaining an ideal weight.
- Avoiding repetitive motions.
the coming decades, the need for better understanding of osteoarthritis and the increased use of alternative
treatments such as chiropractic will only continue to grow.