We all know somebody who suffers from stiff achy joints, maybe it’s you?
One cause of painful joints is osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis or OA, is the most common form of arthritis; it affects 1 in 10 Canadian adults!1
The pain associated with OA is due to the breakdown of joint cartilage. The cartilage is a thin sheet that lines the ends of bones. It acts as a shock absorber and lubricator of joints. Breakdown of cartilage can be exacerbated by an injury, added weight to the joints, genetics or may have no particular cause at all.
Signs of OA often include stiff and painful joints especially in the first 20 minutes after getting out of bed. Stiffness and pain after prolonged sitting, and mild swelling of joints.
The most common joints affected include the small bones of than hands and feet, the knees and the spine.
Cartilage breakdown leads to inflammation, decreased flexibility of the joint, and aching pain. People suffering from OA often limit their movements in order to avoid pain. This weakens the muscles surrounding the joint and further restricts the range of motion.
So what can be done to help Osteoarthritis symptoms?
The main goal is to control pain and prevent progression of cartilage breakdown.
Here are some strategies;
- Stay active! This will help maintain your range of motion and flexibility. Regular exercise does not lead to OA!
- Strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints. Try yoga, Tai Chi or Water aerobics. A health professional can help prescribe a strengthening program
- Learn proper lifting technique and spinal posture. This can lessen strain on the spine and reduce risk of further joint injury.
- Drop 10 lbs. I know, easier said than done but loosing even 10lbs can seriously reduce the stress to the knees and decrease pain.
- Drink water. Fluids are important to maintain healthy joints. Joint fluid provides nutrients to cartilage to keep it healthy.
- Supplements such as glucosamine sulfate have shown benefits to maintaining cartilage and preventing further breakdown.
- Try manual therapy. Chiropractic adjustments can help maintain the health of joints. Adjustments can improve mobility by restoring motion to osteoarthritic joints. Acupuncture, physiotherapy and massage therapy can also relieve tension in muscles and help with pain control.
When it comes to your joints remember this… YOU DON’T GET OLD AND STIFF YOU GET STIFF THEN OLD, so keep those joints moving!
The Arthritis Society http://www.arthritis.ca/page.aspx?pid=941
Dr. Jennifer Fergusson graduated Cum Laude with Clinic Honours from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College. She maintains a family practice in Almonte at the Hands on Healing Clinic.