Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease. If a joint is under a constant (heavy) pressure, it could lead to an injury. It is called osteoarthritis if there is a gradual diminishing of cartilage or a change in the bone structure, like the growth of projections on the bone. Please read more on osteoarthritis below.
A joint is the hinge between two bones. The end of the two bones has cartilage. The cartilage is smooth and meant to move supplely against each other. In addition to the cartilage there is also synovial fluid in a joint, which all together provide good lubrication during movement of the joint. A stiff bandage with strong ligaments and muscles surrounds a joint to make it stable, but also to make it mobile during movement.
From your twentieth year onwards the cartilage in your body is gradually becoming less lubricated. This may cause friction during movement. The quality of the cartilage is slowly decreasing. That will eventually result in less burden and movement of a joint. This can result in pain, stiffness and motion restriction.
Wear occurs in particular in the joints who carried a lot of weight on a daily basis, like knees and hips. But it is also possible that parts of the neck and back are corroded. Wear can gradually emerge. There isn’t a clear explanation on how that happens. We do know that there are a number of risks. A trauma in a joint caused by something such as a car accident or sports injury can increase the wear of the joint.
Wear is not time-dependent. Even in skeletons of Neanderthals they have found traces of osteoarthritis. And wear is not excluded to humans as well. It is found in almost every vertebrate like birds, fish and mammals. There are exceptions. Bats and sloths are hanging most of their lives upside down and subsequently there isn’t much weight pressing on their joints. It is still not known why some people suffer from osteoarthritis and others don’t.
Osteoarthritis is most common if someone is around 70 years old, but the process of wear of the cartilage often starts much earlier, at the age of 35. About half as much men will get osteoarthritis compared to women. On top of that, heredity plays a role as well.
Movement through exercise is very important. If you do the opposite and become immobile, it most likely has a negative effect on the joint. So when you suffer from osteoarthritis it is your goal to keep the joint flexible because this is better for the lubrication of the joint. Heavy weight gives a lot of pressure on joints and it can speed up the wear of the cartilage. If you are obese you are at much greater risk of getting osteoarthritis.
Symptoms are, among others, pain and stiffness. Swelling and/or thickening of the joint, combined with inflexibility, are also indications. Often one can feel a deep pain in the joint. Complaints occur mainly early in the morning or just after resting, or at the beginning of joint movements. Like getting out of bed and walking to the kitchen. When osteoarthritis is in a more advanced phase the complaints will be present almost constantly.
A chiropractor doesn’t treat osteoarthritis. He/she treats the complaints forthcoming of osteoarthritis. The most common symptoms are pain, stiffness and motion restriction. As indicated these complaints arise by cartilage degradation, which is irreversible. However, the chiropractor can reduce the pain and stiffness by improving the movement of the irritated joint.
In the first instance a chiropractor at MoveWell will ask questions about your overall health situation. This is followed by specific questions on your complaints and symptoms. After that a chiropractor will do a thorough physical examination. The main focus will be on the flexibility of your joints. If there are X-ray photo’s available of previous diagnostic research, the chiropractor will be interested to see them. X-ray photos can reveal deformation of a joint or sometimes of the bone.
The chiropractor will try to improve the flexibility of the joint by using specific pressure techniques. He/she will not only concentrate on the irritated joint, but also on the rest of the movement the joint is part of. For example, when treating complaints on the neck, a chiropractor will follow the spine downwards to the lower back because compensating movements could lead to complaints in the lower back. The muscles are important as well because proper muscle function is essential for good motion function. The irritated joint will remain a weak spot, therefore it is important that you train your gluteus, abdominal and back muscles. The chiropractor will give advice on your posture, ergonomics, and sport and on which exercises you can do at home. Like the slogan on the website “Move Well Feel Better”, you are advised to move. But not without a consult of a chiropractor because a wrong move can make the complaints worse. MoveWell will use the ‘in three steps better’ program and deal with all aspects of the complaints. Click here to read more about the ‘in three steps better’ program.