Osteoarthritis (OA), also called osteoarthroses or degenerative joint disease (DJD), is the most common type of arthritis. OA is a chronic condition characterized by the breakdown of the joint's cartilage or joint's space. The breakdown of cartilage causes the bones to rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain and loss of movement in the joint.
This chronic disease affects some 27 million Americans. OA is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage - this is the part of a joint that cushions the ends of the bones and allows easy movement. As cartilage deteriorates, bones begin to rub against one another. This can cause stiffness and pain that make it difficult for you to use that joint. Osteoarthritis can also damage ligaments, menisci and muscles. Over time OA may create a need for joint replacements.
There are two types of OA - primary and secondary. Primary osteoarthritis is generally associated with aging and the "wear and tear" of life. The older you are, the more likely you are to have some degree of primary osteoarthritis. However, not everyone gets it - not even the very old. That's because OA is a disease, and not part of the normal aging process. Secondary osteoarthritis, in contrast, tends to develop relatively early in life, typically 10 or more years after a specific cause, such as an injury or obesity.
Osteoarthritis occurs most often in the spine, knees, hips and hands. Other joints, particularly the shoulders, can also be affected. OA rarely affects other joints, except as a result of injury or unusual physical stress. The pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis can make it difficult to do daily activities including your job, play sports or even get around with ease. That's why it's important to learn all you can about this disease, how it affects you and how to live with it - a process called self management.
Usually joints affected by osteoarthritis ache or become painful or stiff first thing in the morning, or during or after use. They may also be stiff after periods of inactivity. It's important to remain physically active despite any initial discomfort you might feel. Exercise keeps joints moving, which helps them stay lubricated. It also builds strength in the muscles surrounding the affected joint, so they can support it. Your Chiropractor can also help with prescribing and demonstrating proper exercises for your painful arthritic joints.
Another condition often associated with OA is Osteoporosis is a metabolic disease involving loss of bone tissue and the disorganization of bone structure. Osteoporosis affects more than 200 million people worldwide and more than 10 million Americans. In the United States an additional 18 million persons have low bone mass. The total of 28 million individuals represents almost 10% of all Americans, characterizing the pandemic nature of these disorders of bone.
A long list of other diseases may cause bone loss (osteopenia), including many varieties of malignant cancer, hyperthyroidism, and malabsorption syndrome. Osteoporosis is bone loss specifically related to metabolic factors. These factors include calcium levels, vitamin D levels, and the activity of osteoblasts - bone cells which produce bone matrix. Bone matrix is a mix of organic components such as collagen and inorganic materials such as phosphate and calcium. Loss of bone mass describes loss of the components of the bone matrix.
Many conditions, circumstances, and deficiencies may be implicated in the development of osteoporosis. Menopause is strongly correlated with the presence of osteoporosis. Age greater than 50 and smoking are strongly correlated, as well. Calcium deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, inadequate dietary protein, and certain gastrointestinal syndromes are all causes of loss of bone mass and osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis primarily affects weight-bearing bones, including the pelvis, femur (thigh bone), and lumbar vertebras. Bone loss in these critical structures may directly result in hip fractures and fractures of the lumbar spine, which are some of the potentially debilitating and devastating outcomes of osteoporosis. Importantly, the development of osteoporosis is often associated with lack of exercise.
In consequence, consistent weight-bearing exercise is a key lifestyle choice in helping to prevent loss of bone mass. When we exercise, particularly when we do gravity-resisting activities such as walking, running, and bicycling or various types of strength-training exercises, our bodies respond not only by building new muscle. but also by building new bone. This physiologic response is known as Wolff's law, which states that bone remodels along lines of physiologic stress. In other words, bone responds to mechanical challenges by building more bone. The result is stronger, denser bones which are much less likely to fracture.
In the treatment of osteoporosis, where does chiropractic care come in? Chiropractic care directly addresses spinal misalignments, which in turn directly impact proper functioning of the nerve system. Spinal misalignments are associated with tight and inflamed spinal ligaments and muscles and restricted mobility in the neck, lower back, and/or mid-back. These factors result in deficient flow of information between the nerve system and the rest of your body. When your cells and tissues aren't receiving the correct information they need, symptoms and disease are the likely result.
In terms of osteoporosis, regular, vigorous exercise and proper nutrition provide the right setting and the right ingredients for maintaining healthy bones. Regular chiropractic care, by correcting spinal misalignments and optimizing nerve system functioning, makes it possible for your body to properly use your exercise and nutrition to keep your bones healthy and strong.