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Osteoarthritis

What Is It?

Osteoarthritis (OS-tee-oh-are-THRY-tis) (OA), or degenerative joint disease (DJD), is one of the oldest and most common types of arthritis. It is characterized by the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. Cartilage is the part of the joint that cushions the ends of bones. Cartilage breakdown causes bones to rub against each other, causing pain and loss of movement.

Most commonly affecting middle-aged and older people, OA can range from very mild to very severe. It affects hands and weight-bearing joints such as knees, hips, feet and the back and neck.

What Causes It?

There are many factors that can cause OA. Although age is a risk factor, research has shown that OA is not an inevitable part of aging. Obesity may lead to osteoarthritis of the knees. In addition, people with joint injuries due to sports, work-related activity or accidents are at increased risk of developing OA.

Genetics has a role in the development of OA, particularly in the hands. Some people may be born with defective cartilage or with slight defects in the way that joints fit together. As a person ages, these defects may cause early cartilage breakdown in the joint. In the process of cartilage breakdown, there may be some inflammation, with enzymes released and more cartilage damage.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Physicians make a diagnosis of OA based on a physical exam and history of symptoms. X-rays are used to confirm diagnosis. Most people over 60 reflect the disease on X-ray, and about one-third have actual symptoms.

What Areas Does Osteoarthritis Affect?

arthritispic Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis most often occurs at the ends of the fingers, thumbs, neck, lower back, knees, and hips.

Treatment Options

Treatment of osteoarthritis focuses on decreasing pain and improving joint movement, and may include:

  • Exercises to keep joints flexible and improve muscle strength
  • Many different medications are used to control pain, including corticosteroids and NSAIDs. Glucocorticoids injected into joints that are inflamed and not responsive to NSAIDS. For mild pain without inflammation, acetaminophen may be used.
  • Heat/cold therapy for temporary pain relief
  • Joint protection to prevent strain or stress on painful joints
  • Surgery (sometimes) to relieve chronic pain in damaged joints
  • Weight control to prevent extra stress on weight-bearing joints

Who Is At Risk?

  • Osteoarthritis affects an estimated 20.7 million Americans, mostly after age 45
  • Women are more commonly affected than men

Other Information

  • OA is responsible for more than 7 million physician visits per year
  • Eighty percent of people with OA report some form of limitation in movement or activities
  • As many as half the people who have OA do not know what type of arthritis they have and cannot make informed decisions about their care because treatment options vary among the more that 100 forms of arthritis
  • Musculoskeletal conditions such as OA cost the U.S. economy nearly $65 billion per year in direct expenses and lost wages and production

Chiropractic approach

Its not a cure for OA, but spinal adjustments can increase range of motion, decrease joint pain, and slow the degenerative process almost to a halt. Anyone suffering from OA should see a chiropractor to ensure that his/her spinal column and joints are free from subluxations, nerve pressure and misalignments. Chiropractic spinal adjustments may make the difference between a pain free lifestyle or long term chronic suffering. Don’t suffer any longer, call us today for an evaluation and discover how chiropractic can help you!