Arthritis/Joint pain/stiffness

Arthritis is a general term for pain and stiffness of  the  joints. There are over 100 types of arthritis. The most common is typically associated with wear and tear and is  called osteoarthritis (OA). OA  is a chronic, progressive condition characterized by the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. Cartilage is the part of the joint that cushions the ends of the bones and allows easy movement of joints. The breakdown of cartilage causes the bones to rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain and loss of movement in the joint.

  • Risk factors for OA are:
  • Older age. Incidences of OA increase as you age, the older you are the more you have used your joints.
  • Obesity. Increased body weight is a serious factor in the development of OA, particularly in your knees, which carry the brunt of your weight day in and day out. For every pound you gain, you add four pounds of pressure on your knees and six times the pressure on your hips.
  • Injury or Overuse. Athletes and people who have jobs that require doing repetitive motion, such as landscaping, typing or machine operating, have a higher risk of developing OA due to injury and increased stress on certain joints. 
  • Family history. Family history of arthritis can play a role but less so than other factors in the development of arthritis.
  • Muscle Weakness. Studies of the knee muscles not only show that weakness of the muscles surrounding the knee can lead to OA, but that strengthening exercises for thigh muscles are important in reducing the risk.
The most common signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis are:
  • Joint soreness after periods of overuse or inactivity.
  • Stiffness after periods of rest that goes away quickly when activity resumes.
  • Morning stiffness, which usually lasts no more than 30 minutes.
  • Pain caused by the weakening of muscles surrounding the joint due to inactivity.
  • Joint pain is usually less in the morning and worse in the evening after a day’s activity.
  • Deterioration of coordination, posture and walking due to pain and stiffness.
Natural treatment options include joint mobilization or chiropractic manipulation as well as healthier lifestyle choices possibly including a better diet and a consistent exercise program. Weight loss is beneficial as well as stretching to reduce pressure and maintain full range of motion in the affected joints. Exercise helps by enhancing the flow of synovial fluid to lubricate and nourish the cells in the joint. Joints depend on motion to keep them healthy. Limited motion can lead to reduced circulation and nutrition ultimately accelerating the arthritis.