What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, affects over 20 million Americans, occurring more commonly in women than in men. Normally, cartilage (the slippery tissue in between bones that forms joints), helps bones glide over one another. In an osteoarthritis patient, that cartilage breaks down and eventually can wear away.
How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?
Using a combination of medical history, physical examination, x-rays, and less commonly a fluid draw from the joint, a provider will be able to diagnose osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
– Steady or intermittent joint pain
– Joint stiffness after sitting, sleeping or other periods of prolonged inactivity
– Tenderness or swelling in the joints
– A crunching feeling or the sound of bones rubbing together
The journal Clinical Biomechanics has been reporting (starting in 1987), that joint immobility can lead to permanent damage in as little as two weeks. According to the author of the study, “The evidence in this review shows that immobilizing healthy joints in experimental animals can lead inexorably to osteoarthritis. With respect to [human] patients, it can be postulated that immobilization, for whatever reason, will initiate a pathogenic [disease producing] chain of musculo-skeletal degenerative changes.”
An immobilized joint for just one day a week for 14 weeks shows the same amount of damage as one immobilized for 14 days in a row. The damage accumulates over the entire time the joint was immobilized.
Consult your healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms. A diagnosis of osteoarthritis is usually not difficult to obtain, but it is difficult to determine whether osteoarthritis actually causes the symptoms. Any other disorders and conditions that can exacerbate the symptoms need to be ruled out, as well. Prompt diagnosis and treatment helps manage pain, improves function, and slows the degeneration.
How might Chiropractic care help?
When a spinal subluxation occurs, the joints become immobile and are thus unable to move in their normal range of motion. The degenerative process known as osteoarthritis begins. If the immobility is not corrected within two weeks, the osteoarthritis becomes permanent. While these permanent changes can’t be reversed, they can be kept from worsening, by restoring mobility to the stuck joint. This is one of the many reasons why a lifetime of Chiropractic Wellness Care is so important.
If permanent spinal damage can occur within two weeks of a vertebral subluxation, you will want to have your spine checked as soon as possible!
Many of our patients tell us that chiropractic adjustments give them relief, and a new study in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation confirms that chiropractic can help with this problem. In the study, researchers in Spain looked at 40 men with diagnosed degenerative disc disease. Half of these men were treated with spinal manipulation, while the other half received a placebo treatment without the spinal manipulation.
The study found that patients who received even just a single adjustment:
– Reported less pain
– Felt increased spinal mobility
– Had better hip flexion
– Experienced a significant, measurable increase in height
As we age, staying active and keeping your spine flexible is very important, and chiropractic can help you do that. Another recent study found that after chiropractic care, older patients were able to stay more active, for longer periods of time.
If you want to stay active, healthy, and pain-free, give chiropractic a try!