Osteoarthritis is another medical term for degenerative joint disease and is the most common form of arthritis in the body. The condition occurs when the cartilage of a joint degenerates as we age or due to injury or trauma. Because it is a disorder that affects the joints, it can appear at any joint in the body however, it is most common in the hips, knees, low back, neck and hands. There is no cure for osteoarthritis but there are treatment options that can help to prevent or slow the progression. It is important to work to slow the symptoms in order to live an active and more pain free life after the diagnosis of osteoarthritis because in general, the symptoms of this condition will worsen over time. The symptoms will worsen because during the early stages of the condition, the cartilage will be present but its texture will become rough. Later stages of osteoarthritis reveal that the cartilage is completely gone and has left the bones to rub against one another. Aside from pain and tenderness at the affected joint, flexibility will decrease as the joint becomes stiffer and bone spurs may develop that will cause pain and a grinding sound when the joint is moved.
The Healing Process
In most cases when the aging process is involved, there is little to do to avoid developing osteoarthritis. People over the age of 40 are more at risk of developing osteoarthritis and it is more common in women compared to men. When it is due to a mechanical issue like repetitive movements in an occupational setting, certain precautions can be taken to prevent damage to the joints of the body. If no treatment is sought, osteoarthritis will gradually worsen and in severe cases, the progress will require joint replacement surgery depending on which joints are affected. Chiropractic care will include physical therapy exercises to help with stabilizing the joints, strengthening the muscles near the joint and providing an increased range of motion to offer more motion and less pain during movement. Moist heat packs will be applied to the joint as well as light traction and stretching, muscle resistance exercises will be offered as well. The chiropractic physician may also offer at-home therapy exercises. This program is an important part of the healing process as it teaches the patient to continue care and strengthen their bodies while outside of a clinical setting. Communication is essential to provide the chiropractor with an accurate analysis of whether or not there are positive results from the conservative care.
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