Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is a degenerative condition that results in the deterioration of cartilage tissues that support the weight-bearing joints in the body. The condition, also called degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease, is closely linked to the aging process and consists of outgrowth of bone, bone spurs and soft cysts on the affected joints and bones. It affects 20 million Americans, primarily women and adults over age 45.
How does Osteoarthritis develop?
It is important to note that, although associated with old age, osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease are not simply a result of the aging process, nor are they a result of general wear and tear on the joints as some believe. These conditions almost always begin as a ligament weakness resulting from injury.
Joints are composed of two bones covered with articular cartilage, which allows the joint to glide, and ligaments, which hold the two bones together. Healthy articular cartilage and ligaments enable the bones to glide evenly over one another. If the ligaments become weak, the bones will glide in an uneven manner. One area of the bone will bear additional weight on the articular cartilage when the joint is stressed. This uneven distribution of joint stress creates an even greater strain on the weakened ligament. Eventually all ligaments of the joint become lax and the joint becomes more and more unstable. As a result, articular cartilage breakdown occurs, causing a grinding or crunching noise when the joint is moved—as well as pain!
When ligaments can no longer stabilize joint, muscles and tendons will tense, often increasing a person’s pain. When these soft tissues can no longer do the stabilizing work, the bony surfaces rub against each other.
As the condition develops, the bone around the affected joint thickens, and bony growths called osteophytes form. If the synovial tissue that lines the joint capsule becomes inflamed, fluid may accumulate within the joint. This causes pain and swelling in the joints and decreases their mobility. In later stages of the disease, decreased amounts of cartilage in the joints hinder movement.
Although natural medicine specialists see a clear link between ligament injury and the onset of osteoarthritis, conventional medical practitioners cannot reach consensus on a cause of osteoarthritis. They identify certain factors that may increase the risk of developing the disorder, including repeated strenuous activity or reoccurring injury, excessive weight gain, and possibly heredity.
What are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?
Symptoms of osteoarthritis may include pain and tenderness in a joint that worsens with activity and is relieved by rest; stiffness after long periods of rest; discomfort in a joint before or during a change in weather; bony lumps on the middle or end joints of the fingers or the base of the thumb; loss of joint flexibility; swelling and tenderness around the joint; restricted joint movement; creaking or cracking of joints and bones; and referred pain in areas remote from the site of damage but on the same nerve pathway as the affected joint.
Conventional medical treatments may help relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis but they do not address the root of the problem. By strengthening structural weaknesses in the body, as natural treatments like Chiropracticr do, osteoarthritis pain may be alleviated permanently. Discover why we believe that natural medicine treatments are the best way to treat osteoarthritis.
Natural vs. Modern Medicine’s Approach to Osteoarthritis
Modern Medicine’s Approach to Osteoarthritis
Modern medicine continues to search for drugs, devices and surgical procedures to eliminate the chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease. Anti-inflammatory drugs have become a billion dollar business. While the drugs may provide temporary relief, they do nothing to correct the underlying condition causing the pain. In fact, in the long run, these medications do more damage than good.
Another common pain treatment for osteoarthritis is a cortisone shot. It’s also one of the quickest ways to lose strength at the ligament-bone (fibro-osseous) junction. Cortisone and other steroid shots have adverse affects on bone, cartilage and soft tissue healing. Unfortunately, many people suffering from arthritis pain look for quick relief without thinking about the long-term, potentially harmful side effects that could occur. The problem with cortisone is that, although immediate pain relief is possible, it inhibits nearly every aspect of healing, making the pain condition even worse!
In simple terms, anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone shots are anti-healing. They result in long-term loss of function and even more chronic pain by actually inhibiting the healing process of soft tissues and accelerating cartilage degeneration (the very cause of arthritis!). Plus, long-term use of these drugs can lead to other sources of chronic pain, allergies, leaky gut syndrome and other serious side effects.
Finally, when all else fails, patients with osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease are referred to a surgeon. Although surgery may provide temporary pain relief, this invasive treatment usually makes the condition even worse! Remember, osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease is the result of an injury to a joint that was never allowed to heal. And healing is possible! Anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone shots, arthroscopy and surgery used to treat osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease all contribute to the downward spiral in the development of these conditions. All of these treatments help destroy the articular cartilage, which is the very structure that prevents us from getting arthritis and degenerative joint disease
Natural Medicine’s Approach to Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease involve the deterioration of the articular cartilage that lines the joints and related changes in adjacent bones and joints. This deterioration occurs because the supporting structures of the joints, primarily the ligaments, become injured . . . NOT because of general wear and tear on the joints or as an inevitable part of aging! Ligament injury is the culprit.
Here’s what happens:
- A ligament is damaged through overuse or trauma, such as a sports injury or an accident.
- Because of the ligament’s poor blood supply, it does not heal (unlike muscles, which have a good blood supply and heal quite easily).
- Over time, the injured ligament weakens, like a stretched rubberband that has lost its elasticity.
- Since ligaments function as joint stabilizers, the injured ligament is no longer capable of doing its job.
- As a result, the muscles must compensate. They begin to ache and spasm and, eventually, the joint or vertebra in the area begins to compensate as well.
- Overgrowth of bone occurs to help stabilize the injured ligament, which leads to arthritis, and a whole new level of pain and disability.
This downward spiral of pain can be halted and reversed only by stimulating healing at the source—the ligament.
Chiropractic is a safe and natural approach in the treatment of repairing tendon, ligament and cartilage damage. Chiropractic stimulates the body’s ability to heal itself, repairing painful areas.
Other Natural Medicine Treatments for Osteoarthritis
Over the past several years additional information has accumulated regarding the use of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and collagen II. These products are available without a prescription from health practitioners or local health food stores. They have been shown to be effective in pill form or via injection. Glucosamine can be extremely helpful in reducing pain from osteoarthritis and can also help prevent further deterioration of the joint.
Another useful medicine for joint pain is Capsaicin. This is available either as a generic or proprietary cream (known as Zostrix). When applied to a painful joint on a regular basis, joint-related pain and muscle spasms are decreased to a significant degree. Side effects, other than warmth, are very rare. These creams literally work to decrease the amount of pain chemicals that are present in the tissues surrounding the joint.
If you are interested in more information about natural treatments or to schedule an appointment, please contact Dr. Laboret at 972-671-5263.
Disclaimer: The preceding is to provide information about relief and the benefits that may be derived. It is not intended to claim a cure for any disease or condition. It should not take the place of your doctor’s advice or treatment.