Arthritis, osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease (all terms used interchangeably) is a condition that occurs when the flexible tissue at the ends of bones in our joints wears down. The wearing down of this tissue, called cartilage, happens gradually and worsens over time. Arthritis most commonly occurs in people with old accidents or injuries, repetitive stress jobs like manual laborers, or old sports injuries, usually from contact sports like football or hockey. Spinal joints can shift out of normal alignment or become locked with limited movement, which can cause abnormal wear and tear on the cartilage and dehydration in the joints. Arthritis usually occurs in older adults but can also be an issue in people under 60.
Patients may exhibit joint pain, stiffness, or aching in – most commonly – the hands, neck, lower back, knees, or hips. Some patients have nerve pain from arthritis radiating into the shoulders and arms or down into the hips and legs. Signs of arthritis on an X-ray may show loss of normal joint space, thickening of the bones toward their edges, or bone spurs (osteophytes). These changes are permanent and irreversible.
Medications can help temporarily. If the arthritis is severe, surgery may be necessary. Chiropractic is an excellent treatment for patients with arthritis. If spinal joints are locked in an abnormal position with improper wear on the joint, the chiropractic adjustment is a perfect remedy to reduce or slow down the wear and tear on that joint. The adjustment improves the joint’s mobility, takes pressure off the nerves, and corrects normal alignment. The adjustments also help diffusion fluids through the joint spaces and tissues, reducing dehydration on joint surfaces.