Typically, osteoarthritis occurs in most people as they age. It is a common chronic joint disease which causes large amounts of pain and disability in the population. Osteoarthritis mainly occurs in the knees, hips, small joints of the hands and base of the big toe, however almost any joint can be affected, including the spine. There are a number of risk factors for osteoarthritis including excess weight, previous joint injury, repetitive kneeling or squatting and repetitive heavy lifting.
The key characteristics of osteoarthritis include mild inflammation of the tissues in and around the joints, damage to the cartilage, and bony growths that develop around the edge of the joints. While the symptoms of osteoarthritis vary from person to person it typically involves joint stiffness- particularly after rest, joint pain and tenderness, a grating or crackling sensation in the joints, and muscle weakness.
The chiropractors at Southern Region Chiropractic Mittagong and Goulburn take a detailed history and perform a thorough examination to diagnose osteoarthritis and its associated symptoms. A patient may be sent for an x-ray or referred to their GP for blood tests to rule out other types of arthritis. Once a diagnosis has been made the chiropractor will then devise a management plan guided by a thorough understanding of the latest research. The purpose of treatment is not to try to “cure” the osteoarthritis but instead aims to decrease pain and stiffness and improve the function of the joint and associated joints.
Treatment often includes joint mobilisation, soft tissue release, dry needling, advice on pain relieving methods, ergonomic and activity modification advice, and the prescription of home exercises to improve movement and strengthen muscles. The use of these techniques varies depending on the patient’s age, health and their personal preferences.