Understanding Osteoarthritis and chiropractic care is a great first step in your effort to reduce the impact of OA on your day to day life.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive disease that occurs in the joint. It leads to the breakdown of joint cartilage and the underlying bone. OA also affects the bodies ability to repair damaged joint tissue. It is the most common type of arthritis and affects more Canadians than all other forms of arthritis combined.
OA has often been described as a degenerative or “wear-and-tear” arthritis. Recent studies, however, explain that it is the result of the body’s inability to repair the damaged joint tissue. OA most commonly affects the joints in the knees, hips, big toes, hands and spine. Common symptoms include morning stiffness, reduced range of motion, joint pain, aches and, at times, swelling. As OA is a progressive disease these symptoms will worsen over time, especially without treatment.
How can a chiropractor help?
Chiropractors use varying degrees of force in order to adjust misaligned joints. This can help improve the overall functioning of the nervous system by creating balance and alignment in the spine, as the spinal cord is the nervous system’s highway. Chiropractors can use joint mobilization, traction and manipulation techniques to help alignment.
While these forms of treatments are important in promoting overall joint health it is also important to take caution during a flare-up. We would recommend trying cold laser therapy to reduce inflammation, which causes pain and swelling during a flare-up. Cold laser therapy uses light to penetrate deep into the tissue, which may reduce inflammation. Additionally, recent studies have found that cold laser or low level light therapy help the body regenerate cells to produce new tissue. This is important in helping to prevent further degeneration of joint tissue and helping the body to create healthy joint tissue.
In recent years there have been more reviews and studies supporting chiropractic for both back and joint pain. A 2013 study observed the effectiveness of patient education in conjunction with 12 chiropractic treatments (twice a week for six weeks). It found that the patients who received a combination of education and chiropractic manipulation experienced improvement in their OA conditions during the 6 week treatment plan. This is a good example of how individuals with osteoarthritis use chiropractic care to manage their symptoms see relief.
Next steps in managing Osteoarthritis
If you are experiencing pain and reduced mobility related to Osteoarthritis you are not alone and you can work to improve your condition. In addition to chiropractic care some other strategies that have been found to help improve OA:
- Physiotherapy, massage therapy and acupuncture
- Healthy and effective weight management can help prevent OA from developing further. Carrying excess weight increases your risk of developing OA in load-bearing joints. Healthy weight management is key, this is something you should discuss with your healthcare provider.
- Consider changes to your diet. Focus on foods that are nutrient rich and low in sugars and saturated and trans fats.
- Supplements like Vitamin D, glucosamine and chondroitin help you get additional nutrients your body needs.
- Light or moderate physical activity protects joints by strengthening the muscles around them, increasing blood flow to the joint and helping promote normal joint regeneration.
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