Osteoarthritis is the medical terminology for degenerative joint disease. It affects 18.5% of the population in Australia (Arthritis NSW, 2011) and is the nations biggest cause of disability and pain. It tends to be associated with getting old but most people are diagnosed at a working age.
With Osteoarthritis there is loss of the cartilage within the joint and the surrounding bone thickens and enlarges. This can cause the formation of Osteophytes. There is a reduction in the production of synovial fluid (joint lubricator and nourishment) and the surrounding ligaments shorten and loose some of their flexibility. Therefore in Osteoarthritis the space within the joints narrows resulting in loss of joint function and the pain is associated with inflammation in surrounding soft tissue.
The causes of Osteoarthritis can be related to obesity, previous sports injuries to affected joints, genetic predisposition, dietary, increasing age and malalignment of the lower extremity.
The signs and symptoms of Osteoarthritis may consist of
Joints most commonly affected by Osteoarthritis
There is no Osteoarthritis cure. The best Osteoarthritis treatment is prevention but unfortunately by the time most people come to see me they are already in trouble and suffering with a fair amount of pain and loss of function.
Osteopathic treatment for Osteoarthritis will focus on reducing the pain, improving range of movement in the joints and reducing the rate of degeneration. Your treatment is likely to entail soft tissue massage, stretching, articulations and a muscle-strengthening programme. Education is also important particularly with weight reduction.
Osteopathic Osteoarthritis treatment can complement more conventional forms of treatment. It is fine to have treatment if your doctor with medication is also treating you, or if you are already seeing a physiotherapist.