What is Arthritis / Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative joint disease) is a form of arthritis (inflammation of a joint) caused by degeneration of cartilage. Cartilage serves an important role in joint function. Its gel-like nature provides protection to the ends of joints by acting as a shock absorber. Without the cartilage in the joint, bone literally rubs against bone leading to pain, deformity, inflammation, and limitation of motion in the joint.
The onset of osteoarthritis can be subtle. Morning joint stiffness is often the first symptom. As the disease progresses, there is pain on motion of the involved joint that is made worse by prolonged activity and relieved by rest. There is usually local tenderness, soft tissue swelling, joint crepitus (cracking sounds), bony swelling, restricted mobility, and bony nodules. X-ray findings show narrowing of the joint space (the area between the bones taken up by cartilage). The weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, and spine as well as the hands are the joints most often affected with the degenerative changes of osteoarthritis. These joints are under greater stress because of weight and use.
What causes Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is divided into two categories, primary and secondary. In primary osteoarthritis, the degenerative “wear-and-tear” process occurs after a person turns forty years of age. The cumulative effects of decades of use leads to the degenerative changes by stressing the collagen matrix of the cartilage. Stress on the cartilage results in the release of enzymes which destroy cartilage components. With aging, the ability to restore and manufacture normal cartilage structures decreases. So, what I am saying is that aging is the primary cause of osteoarthritis. But, just because you may be getting older doesn’t mean that you have to suffer from the pain of osteoarthritis.
Secondary osteoarthritis is associated with some predisposing factor which is responsible for the degenerative changes. Predisposing factors in secondary osteoarthritis include: inherited abnormalities in joint structure or function; trauma (fractures along joint surfaces, surgery, etc.); presence of abnormal cartilage; and previous inflammatory disease of joint (rheumatoid arthritis, gout, etc.).
How do you treat Osteoarthritis?
There are numerous ways that chiropractic can help osteoarthritis. One important way is chiropractic adjusting as it restores normal joint alignment. By aligning the joint and enabling it to move properly, chiropractic care can reduce further wear and tear and slow down the degenerative process. In addition, chiropractic care relieves pain and inflammation in the joints, which goes a long way to reducing the pain in osteoarthritis patients. Chiropractic adjustments also increases the mobility of the joint which can help improve joint stiffness and lack of motion.
Acupuncture is another way that we can reduce the pain of osteoarthritis. A landmark study was conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), both components of the National Institutes of Health. The findings of the study—the longest and largest randomized, controlled phase III clinical trial of acupuncture ever conducted—were published in the December 21, 2004, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study concluded that acupuncture provides pain relief and improves function for people with osteoarthritis and serves as an effective complement to standard care.
We also offer exercise therapy, physiotherapy and nutritional / supplement advice as conservative and effective ways to treat osteoarthritis.
Questions? Contact us or call 763.494.4900 and a friendly staff member will be happy to assist you!