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Prevent Osteoarthritis with Chiropractic

Human beings are living longer than past generations. Consequently, the prevalence of degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis (OA) is expanding exponentially. That's why doctors at Advanced Chiropractic Clinic want patients to know the latest facts on OA. Because prevention is the best weapon against this crippling malady.

In the past, populations most afflicted with OA included the elderly, women, the physically inactive, overweight individuals and those with low educations and household incomes. A recent study, however, "found that arthritis was more common among several groups not recognized consistently in previous studies to have high prevalence rates of arthritis: separated and divorced people, those out of work or unable to work, and current and former smokers." (Prevalence of Arthritis: Analysis of Data from the US Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 1996-1999).

More people suffer from OA than any other disease; nearly every individual over the age of 50 endures some degree of degenerative disorder (Journal of Chiropractic 1990;27:69). And the pervasiveness of this disease shows no sign of slowing down in the future.

Background

A non-inflammatory form of arthritis, OA can have degenerative effect on one or more joints. Hallmarks of the condition include loss of cartilage and proliferation of bone spurs. Catalysts for OA are largely unknown but may include chemical, mechanical, genetic, metabolic and endocrine factors. Emotional stress also aggravates the condition. Although there is no cure, proper management can minimize the pain and enhance patients' quality of life.

Symptoms

Indications of OA include joint pain (particularly after exercise or use), stiffness and tenderness to the touch. The regions most commonly disabled by the disorder include the hip, knee and spine.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractors, such as the doctors at Advanced Chiropractic Clinic, help patients with OA avoid the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and surgical procedures like hip replacement and joint debridement.

Instead, they concentrate on developing a "wellness attitude". This unique viewpoint focuses on prevention rather than masking symptoms with medication. Chiropractic adjustments keep joints OA-free by promoting proper range of motion and natural lubrication. "A truly effective and conservative approach t the treatment of osteoarthritis should include chiropractic manipulation, essential nutrient supplementation, exogenous administration of glucosamine sulfate and rehabilitative stretches and exercises to maintain joint function." (J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1997;20:400-414.)

Exercise is Key

Exercise keeps joints mobile and lubricated. Physical inactivity weakens the muscles that support the joints. In the knee, weak thigh muscles (quadriceps) contribute to OA. Building up these muscles can stave off the disease (Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter 1997;15:8). The stronger the quadriceps the more foot-to-ground control there is: reducing impact stress on the knee joints. It is this stress that can lead to breakdown of cartilage and leave bone rubbing on bone.

Jogging, racquet sports and other weight bearing activities are great ways to build up the muscle strength for those who are arthritis free. If you already have OA, low-impact activities such as walking, biking, swimming, dancing and tai chi are good options.

Studies show that exercise reduces pain and increases mobility. But for many, adhering to a regular exercise program is a daunting challenge. The secret to overcoming the challenge is creating momentum. Once you start reaping the rewards of exercise — such as increased energy and reduced risk of disease — staying motivated will become second nature.

Vital Supplements

Vitamins C and D chase away the sniffles and help maintain healthy bone mass. One study shows that they may also minimize the pain of OA and actually help keep the disease at bay.

Glucosamine is produced in the body naturally, derived from sugar. It is a vital component in the formation of cartilage. "In a number of good studies in Europe, osteoarthritis suffers who took 1500 mg of glucosamine each day for one to three months reported less pain, swelling, or tenderness than those who took a (inactive but look-alike) placebo." (Nutrition Action Health letter 1998;25:3.)

The Insulin Factor

Newest research indicates that blood sugar and insulin may play a role in the development of arthritis. One study showed that sustained delivery of insulin reduced the degenerative process in animal and human test subjects by inhibiting its key triggering factors. (Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2002; 10:692.) To keep insulin levels on an even keel, avoid foods high in table sugar and "white" starches like white bread and rice.

You aren't alone

Millions of people suffer from OA. Don't suffer in silence: ring the clinic today and schedule an appointment. The sooner you take action, the less wear and tear your joints will have to endure. Remember, ask the chiropractor or general practitioner before starting any supplement regime.

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