Osteoarthritis (OA ) also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease is a group of mechanical abnormalities involving degradation of the joints.
It is also referred to as Old Age arthritis but this article will enlighten your understanding of osteoarthritis & hopefully lead you to finding relief if you do suffer from this condition.
Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the joints of the hands, feet, spine & the large weight bearing joints such as the knees & hips.
As the condition progresses, the joints that are affected will appear larger, become stiff & painful, & usually feel worse the more they are used.
With respect to the spine, you may or may not notice swelling, but the pain & stiffness with use is a definite tell-tale symptom. The main symptom is pain which causes loss of ability & often stiffness.
The pain can be a constant dull ache which may fluctuate in intensity from day to day & especially with use, or it can be a sharp ache in the surrounding muscles & tendons. Sometimes it can cause a crackling noise ( also known as ‘crepitus’ ) when the joint is moved & occasionally patients may experience muscle spasms around the affected joints as well.
It is not uncommon for the affected joints, especially the large weight-bearing joints to become effused( fluid-filled ) where humidity & sudden changes in outdoor temperature will cause increased pain in many patients.
Many investigators, myself included believe that mechanical stress on the joints underlies all osteoarthritis.
There are many & varied sources of mechanical stress including misalignments of bones, ( either congenital or pathological ), physical injury & trauma, obesity, loss of strength in the muscles supporting the joints & nerve impingement causing sudden or uncoordinated movements that overstress the joints.
There are several other factors that have been linked to causing OA such as congenital disorders, infections & inflammatory diseases but the end result is most always the same.
For the purpose of this discussion, we will address the more common causes which are related to joint alignment & trauma.
Osteoarthritis is not necessarily a disease of old age.
There are many people who are well into their 90’s who have zero clinical signs or functional signs of the disease. And this has been my experience as well being in private practice for 25 yrs; a lot of people have maintained very healthy joints & joint tissue throughout their life-times & I will give you my opinion on this a little bit later.
But, as a person ages the water content of ones cartilage can decrease somewhat ( cartilage is a substance that lines most every joint surface in your body & is responsible for maintaining healthy & smoothly gliding joints ) causing the cartilage to become less resilient.
The cartilage can then become susceptible to degradation & hence degeneration.
Inflammation will result, new bone outgrowths called ‘bone spurs’ or ‘osteophytes ‘ can then form on the margins of the joints. These bone changes along with the inflammation can become both painful & debilitating to one degree or another.
It has been my experience as a chiropractor that the greater degree of degeneration (osteoarthritis) that you see in a spinal joint or a skeletal joint such as a knee or a hip; the longer the mechanical problem has been there left un-detected & un-corrected.
This is what you MUST understand if you suffer from osteoarthritis.
Chiropractic is a health care profession that deals with the joints of the skeletal system, the spine specifically.
We are skilled at re-aligning the joints so that they assume a better if not normal anatomical position.
This way they are healthier, they function better & they are less painful & restrictive, & they are much more durable.
This means there is less of a chance that they will wear out or become arthritic.
And it has been my definite conclusion that people who get chiropractic care on a regular basis have much healthier joints; whether it is spinal joints or skeletal joints such as shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees ankles, fingers & toes.
Most chiropractors can re-align all the aforementioned joints as well as your spinal joints.
So let me give you a case history so as to make a point…… a young patient of mine (19 yrs old) twisted his knee pretty badly skiing. He went to his family doctor before being referred to me & went through the standard medical care.
Drugs, different types of drugs, therapy & different forms of physical therapy. His knee got better but was not perfect & he could not ski to his maximum potential because his knee was just “not right”.
He was then referred to me for a second opinion & after an xray we found that his knee joint was misaligned from the severe twist he had suffered. I performed a series of special adjustments to re-align his knee joint & within 2 months he was skiing as good as ever with no pain, swelling, discomfort or restrictions.
The sad thing is that if he had never been referred to a chiropractor, chances are his knee would have degenerated & become arthritic very quickly due to the misalignment.
His skiing activities may have been permanently affected.
And I am sorry if this touches a nerve with you, but drugs, medications & therapies DO NOT re-align your joints, whether an extremity joint or a spinal joint.
Now I want you to really think outside the box here. If you are not getting chiropractic care on a regular basis, the chances are extremely high that you have some degree of osteoarthritis in your spine.
The stresses of everyday life plus all the falls, bumps & bruises that you have previously had throughout your life can easily misalign the vertebrae in your spine.
If these misaligned vertebrae are left un-detected & un-corrected, then spinal decay or spinal osteoarthritis is sure to result.
This sounds pretty bad, right?
This is where I want you to keep thinking outside your box…. if a part of your spine becomes arthritic, this will affect the function of the nerves that stem from that part of the spine.
And when nerves are compressed, pinched or irritated they will work less efficiently. This means that the part of the body that those nerves are responsible for controlling will begin to suffer.
What if it is the nerves from your lower back which control your bladder among many other things? You are getting up 4 times every night to urinate. This is obviously an in-convenience so you get a prescription for Flomax which is to help your bladder empty better & decrease the number of times you get up every night. How can anyone one think that this the right & a healthy solution to the problem?!
Your spine is misaligned, it is becoming arthritic, the nerves are starting to shut down & so are the parts of the body those nerves control.
And a drug or medication is going to fix this?
Think again my friends!
To all of you reading this, understand this very important point. Yes, osteoarthritis in your spine can be painful, but the consequences can be way more far-reaching & serious as demonstrated in the Flomax example.
As I mentioned previously, I have seen patients well into their 70’s, 80’s & 90’s who have minimal osteoarthritis in their spine. And, all of these patients have been getting regular chiropractic adjustments for most of their life.
Draw your own conclusions.
If you do have osteoarthritis & you have children, research has shown that there is up to a 60% chance your offspring will develop the same condition.
So, in conclusion, let me ask you when is it you & your family should start practicing good spinal hygiene habits?
When do you think most every human being experiences their first spinal trauma ?
And remember this… your teeth can be replaced but your spine can never be replaced & you all practice good dental hygiene so why would you ignore your spine?