top of page
Child Physiotherapy

What is Degenerative Joint Disease or Osteoarthritis?

Degenerative joint disease, often referred to as osteoarthritis, is a common condition that affects the joints, particularly as people age. It is characterized by the gradual deterioration of the cartilage that covers the ends of bones within a joint. Cartilage is a smooth, elastic tissue that allows for smooth joint movement by cushioning and protecting the bones.

As degenerative joint disease progresses, the cartilage breaks down, leading to various changes in the affected joint. These changes can include:

  1. Cartilage Loss: The cartilage covering the joint surfaces becomes thinner and may wear away over time.

  2. Joint Space Narrowing: The space between the bones in the joint may decrease due to cartilage loss, resulting in reduced joint mobility.

  3. Bone Spurs: Extra bony growths, known as osteophytes or bone spurs, may develop around the edges of the joint. These can contribute to joint pain and further limit movement.

  4. Inflammation: In response to cartilage damage, the joint may become inflamed, leading to swelling, pain, and stiffness.

  5. Joint Stiffness: Reduced flexibility and increased stiffness are common symptoms as the joint loses its normal range of motion.

  6. Pain: Joint pain is a hallmark symptom of degenerative joint disease. The pain is often exacerbated by movement and weight-bearing activities.

  7. Joint Instability: In advanced stages, the affected joint may become less stable, affecting balance and increasing the risk of falls.

While aging is a significant risk factor for degenerative joint disease, other factors can contribute to its development, including:

  • Joint overuse or trauma: Previous injuries or excessive wear and tear on a joint can accelerate the degeneration of cartilage.

  • Genetics: Some people may have a genetic predisposition to developing osteoarthritis.

  • Obesity: Excess body weight can increase the load on weight-bearing joints, contributing to cartilage wear.

  • Joint malalignment or hypomobility: Conditions that alter the normal alignment of joints or reduce proper movement/motion of joints may increase the risk of osteoarthritis.

How can Chiropractic Care help with Osteoarthritis?

Chiropractic care and rehabilitation can be part of a comprehensive approach to managing osteoarthritis. While these interventions may not reverse the degenerative changes associated with osteoarthritis, they can help alleviate symptoms, improve joint function, and enhance the overall quality of life for individuals with the condition. Here are ways in which chiropractic care and rehabilitation may contribute to osteoarthritis management:

  1. Pain Relief:

    • Joint Mobilization: Chiropractors may use joint mobilization techniques to improve joint mobility and reduce pain. Gentle manipulation of affected joints can help alleviate stiffness. Joints that become hypomobile and do not move the way they should tend to degenerate more quickly than others.

    • Soft Tissue Manipulation: Soft tissue techniques can be used to address muscle tightness and reduce pain in the surrounding tissues.

  2. Exercise and Rehabilitation:

    • Customized Exercise Programs: Chiropractors may design individualized exercise programs to improve joint flexibility, strengthen supporting muscles, and enhance overall joint stability.

    • Range of Motion Exercises: Specific exercises aimed at maintaining or improving joint range of motion can be beneficial for managing osteoarthritis-related stiffness.

  3. Education and Lifestyle Advice:

    • Joint Protection Techniques: Educating individuals about proper joint protection techniques and modifications to daily activities can help minimize joint stress.

    • Posture Correction: Guidance on maintaining good posture and body mechanics can be provided to reduce strain on affected joints.

  4. Assistive Devices:

    • Orthotics and Supports: Chiropractors may recommend the use of orthotic devices or joint supports to provide additional stability and reduce joint strain.

  5. Nutritional Guidance:

    • Dietary Recommendations: Chiropractors may provide nutritional guidance, including advice on anti-inflammatory diets or supplements that may support joint health.

bottom of page