Osteoarthritis (OA) is also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease (DJD). Symptoms may include pain, tenderness, clicking, locking, and inflammation. OA most commonly affects the hips, knees, hands, feet, and spine. When OA affects the hands, Heberden’s and Bouchard’s nodes may be present on the proximal and distal interphalangeal joints. It has been researched that overuse and activity may be linked to the development of Osteoarthritis or dramatically increase one’s risk for the condition. Overuse can damage the joints and break down the cartilage within them. Ultimately, this will cause local pain and inflammation. There are two types of Osteoarthritis: primary and secondary.
Primary and Secondary
This is a chronic degenerative disorder related to the body aging. As we age, we lose the water capacity within our joints, causing the joints to therefore breakdown. In the spine, OA will cause bony outgrowths known as osteophytes. On the contrary, Secondary OA is caused by one of the following conditions: Diabetes, congenital disorders of a joint, inflammatory diseases, septic arthritis, Marfan syndrome, obesity, Alkaptonuria, and Hemochromatosis.
Diagnosis of OA is straightforward for the most part. A physician will take a detailed case history and through physical exam; however, the real diagnosis is made once the physician looks at an x-ray report. Upon x-ray of an Osteoarthritis patient, the physician will observe the following changes: decreased joint space narrowing, subchondral sclerosis, subchondral cyst formation, and osteophytes.
There are many advancing treatments for the treatment of Osteoarthritis patients. They include but are not limited to: lifestyle modification such as diet and exercise, analgesics, physical therapy, chiropractic care, surgery, glucosamine supplements, acupuncture, and other supplementation such as vitamin A, C, E, ginger, turmeric, omega-3 fatty acids, and chondroitin sulfate.
Chiropractors can significantly reduce the effects of OA. They can increase range of motion and reduce pain and local inflammation by administering manual manipulations and incorporate physiotherapy modalities. These modalities may include the following: ultrasound, electrical muscle stimulation, cold laser treatments, inter-segmental traction, whirlpool, spinal decompression, paraffin baths, and diathermy. Since OA is a wear and tear type of condition, significant improvement is not very common. The above treatments may help relieve the patient’s symptoms; however, most patients won’t get significant re-growth of the cartilage which has broken down. Most will only see minor improvements according to the current literature out there.
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