Is one of your knees older than the other?
You don’t have to simply put up with it…
It is World Arthritis Day on 12th October so we wanted to take this opportunity to break down some myths around this condition.
Arthritis is one of those things where confusion exists between what is ‘common’ and what is ‘normal.’ Just because something is common doesn’t mean it is normal. You don’t have to just accept this as inevitable.
Many patients coming in to us will say that they have arthritis and that they are just ‘getting on with it’ as it’s part of the inevitable ageing process.
However arthritis isn’t just a part of the ageing process and there are things that can be done to help to avoid it and also to reduce the discomfort if you already have it.
We see many fit, active, octogenarians whose spine and joints are in near-perfect condition, and the other extreme examples of patients who are decades younger and suffering advanced degeneration.
Some people can lead a comfortable symptom-free life, and for others it’s about keeping it as comfortable as we can and being able to improve their ability to carry out the activities that are important to them in their day to day lives.
What exactly is osteoarthritis?
When you are told that you have arthritic changes, it basically means that the cartilage in your joint has worn down. This is sometimes referred to it as ‘spondylitis’ when it occurs in your spine.
Thinner cartilage means that your body’s natural gliding movements and shock absorbers aren’t working properly, so there is more jarring impact through the affected areas.
The surface of cartilage should be smooth. Over time, harsh impact on worn cartilage can make the surface rough, causing friction. When this happens, your joints may start to feel stiffer, tighter, painful, or perhaps even locked.
If you do nothing to address these changes, your body will do two things in an attempt to help you:
- First, your body may start to use your muscles in a different way in order to take the strain from the affected joints. This may provide some initial relief however over time this can put pressure on other areas of your body, leading to structural weaknesses and pain. This compensation becomes an established pattern of movement causing an imbalance.
- Second, the body often responds to this by ‘laying down more bone’ so when the imbalance becomes more advanced, the body will develop bony spurs (known as osteophytes). These can be seen on X-rays. Sometimes these extend so far that bones meet each other across the joint, causing discomfort and pain.
Arthritic changes are more common when you reach your 60s and 70s, but that’s not necessarily linked to your age, it’s connected to your patterns of movement, hydration and nutrition throughout the decades.
Consider this…if you have arthritis in one knee, is that knee older than your other one?
Of course not. However, the arthritic knee has probably been used differently, more repetitively or more forcefully and has worn down faster.
There will be other factors involved. If you don’t drink enough water, your joints may be dehydrated which makes your cartilage more prone to friction damage. Equally, if your diet isn’t sufficiently rich in collagen and minerals, your body’s ability to heal damaged cartilage will be compromised. If you are too sedentary, your body will stiffen up and your range of movement will be compromised.
So it’s not an age thing, it’s your body has been out of balance and how you’ve been compensating.
So what can you do about it?
You will be pleased to hear that there is a simple three-point plan.
When your joints are stiffer, tighter or if there’s been pain somewhere, something has to give. Any area that’s been compensating over a period of time will wear down faster.
By normalising movement pattens with chiropractic adjustments, you can keep the gliding of cartilage in joints to the best level possible. By keeping the joint structures aligned and running as smoothly as possible, you’re eliminating or at least reducing that tension and friction which cause pain, irritation and inflammation.
The chiropractic adjustments are adapted to suit each individual spine, no matter the health.
Movement / stretching
You can think of your body as being similar to the structure of a bridge or building. If the foundations are structurally weaker in some places, you will start to see cracks. You can patch them up, but unless you correct the underlying problem with the foundations, you will have recurrent problems.
The better your foundations are for the mechanics of your movement, the less compensation there will be in other areas. That means you’ll have fewer cracks, and it will be less likely that injuries will build up.
Wear and tear is a build-up of chronic imbalance. So if you keep your body in balance much as possible, your movements will be as smooth as possible, and you will have fewer problems.
Moving, whether it’s through sport, walking or stretching actives such as yoga, helps avoid tightness and stiffness in muscles and joints which can lead to misalignments.
Supplements, hydration and nutrition
We commonly hear the phrase “you are what you eat.” We can have a positive influence on the health of our body and its tissues through our choices of what we eat or drink. The better quality ‘fuel’ you are taking on board, the better quality of healing you will be able to achieve.
There is also a whole host of supplements for arthritis. Glucosamine and chondroitin, are great for helping healing because they are a large component in cartilage. Many people in clinic have found them beneficial. Some brands have more bio-available formulations, meaning your body can absorb more of what’s in the capsule. Our top three brand recommendations are Nutri Advanced, Biocare and Cytoplan.
The triumph of action over pain
You have a lot more control than you might think. You can often actually stop or significantly slow down the damage and discomfort.
It takes years to get to the point where you have bony spurs and, even then, the three-point plan can restore functionality and smoother movement to your joints. The degree of success is individual to each person and what other factors they can change or influence, but it’s absolutely not something you just have to put up with.
Exercise video for good joint health
Speaking of structures, in this video Jason talks about how you can create a framework for your wellness using a his book, Thrive, in collaboration with your chiropractor. Thrive is the culmination of Jason’s years of research, experience and expertise in chiropractic care and many other healthcare modalities. The book makes it easy to understand and apply the principles to your life.
Testimonial of the month
“These professional chiropractors at the clinic not only work on backs, I visit for my feet and hands too. Jason treats my body regularly which really helps me keep active. The clinic is modern and bright with very friendly and polite staff.”
All our chiropractors work with arthritis, and because Jason has particular expertise in joints and complex disc injuries as well as sports performance, he is always in demand for clinic appointments and for teaching other chiropractors.
Most recently he hosted a session in September, at the annual seminar of the Lions of Chiropractic, an association dedicated to growing the chiropractic profession. He taught extremity adjusting focusing on shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles. So if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch!
If you know someone who could benefit from this blog post, please share it with them. We offer a complimentary spine check to anyone who is interested in how chiropractic may be able to help them. You can book this online, or by calling 0208 295 1733.
Filed Under: Chiropractors
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