All About Arthritis

We've all heard about arthritis, but did you know that Osteoarthritis and Degenerative Joint Disease are the same thing? Osteoarthritis or OA is typically found in the hands and weight bearing joints such as the knees, hips, and feet. Osteoarthritis of the spine is called Degenerative Joint Disease or DJD and is most commonly found in the neck and lower back. The Arthritis Foundation estimates that 31 million Americans are affected by osteoarthritis and this number is expected to rise to more than 50 million by 2040. Arthritis is the nation’s #1 cause of disability. It affects all ages, races and genders and accounts for more than $146 billion annually in lost wages and medical expenses and 172 million workdays EVERY YEAR! It doesn’t have to be scary, but it’s an important condition to understand. So let’s dive in... You’re probably wondering… what in the world could possibly cause so many people to have this condition? Don’t worry, it’s not the plague, ebola or the flu and it’s not contagious. OA or DJD is caused by a breakdown of the joint’s cartilage or disc spacing and is typically diagnosed with x-ray or MRI imaging. A 2004 study demonstrated that decreased joint motion leads to an increase in joint degeneration. The way I like to describe this to my patient is based on the concept of “if you don’t use it, you lose it”. Our bodies thrive on joint mobility. Neurologically, chemically and physically. If each individual joint does not move appropriately, our disc spaces and cartilage feel like they are not wanted… so they leave, causing the cartilage to break down and the joints to rub against each other and this is what causes the pain. On an x-ray, DJD of the low back might look like this:

Some people have x-rays that look far worse and cause them no symptoms and others have less degeneration and more symptoms. It truly is unpredictable. So what symptoms do people suffering from OA or DJD experience? Here are just a few examples:

  • Deep, aching pain

  • Worse after exercise or weight bearing activity

  • Relief with rest

  • Joint swelling

  • Limited movement

  • Morning stiffness

  • Grating with joint motion

  • Pain in rainy weather

Many people find relief from medication and injection, but in recent years there has been a rise in people seeking a conservative approach first. A recent study showed that chiropractic spinal manipulation can increase joint mobility and decrease the rate of degenerative changes in the spine. And in our office, we see patients every day who feel like they had no options get relief with not only chiropractic care, but also acupuncture. When the spring weather rolls in, the waiting room seems to fill up with patients with “bad knees or hips” because their symptoms have flared. You might be surprised to know that I am no exception. As a result of multiple car accidents and untreated whiplash in my younger years, I now have disc degeneration in my neck. Although it’s mild in comparison to others, it still creates symptoms that I would prefer not to have. It wasn’t until my first chiropractic adjustment that I actually noticed a difference in the way my neck felt. Regular adjustments in Chiropractic school prevented frequent headaches and “cricks in my neck”. Now, an occasional rain or thunderstorm may trigger a migraine but an adjustment from Dr. Brock relieves it instantly. I hope you enjoyed reading and maybe you even learned a little bit about a condition that more than likely you or someone in your family is suffering from. When you hear the words “arthritis”, many people lose all hope and believe they must live with this forever without any options that can help. Let’s raise awareness about this condition and some of it’s treatment options so we can have less people missing work, having outrageous medical expenses or disability! -Dr. Krista

#osteoarthritis #arthritis #chiropractic #degeneration #acupuncture

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