Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common natural occurring degenerative conditions of the body’s joints affecting people of all ages however it is more prevalent as we age. It is characterised primarily by a loss of cartilage around a joint, which helps to provide smooth gliding of a joint, and results in pain and swelling as the joint loses its ability to work in a smooth fluid process. So why does osteoarthritis occur? The primary reason we see damage build in joints is loss of the normal function of the joint. The joint has no direct blood supply so it is reliant upon function for nutrients to be pushed into the joint as movement occurs. If normal joint movement is diminished by change in alignment, the nourishing process is inhibited and the damage of osteoarthritis starts to build.
Research indicates that 90% of people will have some type of osteoarthritic changes occurring in their weight bearing joints by the time they are 40 years of age. While not all of these are symptomatic, patients with osteoarthritis present regularly to their doctors or chiropractors with joint pain with or without inflammation. These damaged joints can be irritated by too much activity or not enough activity. Different joints are affected depending on posture, injury, past history and a range of hereditary factors.
It can affect any joint in the body however the body’s major weight bearing joints such as the knees, hips, lumbar spine and ankles are more commonly affected than others. Pain is the most common symptom.
Chiropractors provides conservative care that may give effective results even with joints severely damaged by osteoarthritis . A thorough assessment is vital for treatment prescription. Treatment may comprise of:
- Spinal manipulation and joint mobilisation to restore normal joint function (or as close as possible)
- Exercise prescription to develop an individualised plan of exercises to improve flexibility and strength.
- Assistance with functional, gait and balance training to address impairments of positional awareness, balance and strength in individuals who are at higher risk of injury due to falls.
- Soft tissue therapy to the surrounding tissues, often the pain associated with osteoarthritis involves more than just the joint
- A home exercise program if done regularly will assist in reducing additional osteoarthritic flare-ups. Unfortunately long term compliance with this management plan does not always occur. Many patients will discontinue exercising once pain has subsided and function semi-restored until the next flare-up of pain. This can create further joint damage and deterioration by the repetitive cycle of exercise and inactivity.
A maintenance chiropractic visit every 4-6 weeks is an effective method of maintaining joint mobility and nourishing. It will also allow the chiropractor to review, modify and reinforce the prescribed exercises. Research indicates that while maintenance is ongoing, the overall medical costs are reduced for the patient due to the control of acute flare-ups.
Don’t be Afraid to Reach Out!
The best people to understand the challenges you face are others with arthritis. They can commiserate with your difficulties, share encouragement, and give you tips that come from their own experiences. Sometimes, just sharing that you’ve had a hard day and having someone respond, “I understand completely” can help you feel better.
As for friends and family, be honest with them—let them know how you may need extra help. Tell your kids you need them to play quietly while you nap or tell your spouse that he or she is in charge of dinner. Remember that your loved ones want to support you, they just may not know how.
Stretch of the Month
Forward Fold Stretch
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and slowly bend forward from the waist. Keep your legs as straight as possible and don’t bounce.
- Don’t worry if you can’t reach the floor; you can even reach for a chair cushion to start if that’s what your flexibility allows.
- Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds three times.
PH: (08) 9310 1788
Specific times are available for New Patients outside those listed below
Tuesday 7.00am-11.00am Wednesday 2.30pm-7.00pm Thursday 7.00am-11.00am Friday 8.00am-11.00am
Ask Our Chiropractor
Subscribe to receive our free montly newsletter.