For decades, osteoarthritis has been considered a part
of aging. But not anymore. Recent research points out
that older people don’t have to suffer from
osteoarthritic pain. And, surprisingly, people much
younger than 65 can develop osteoarthritis.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA), or degenerative joint disease,
affects more than 20 million Americans and is more
common in women than in men. The disease affects the
cartilage—slippery tissue on the ends of bones that meet
in a joint. Normally, cartilage helps bones glide over
one another. In an OA patient, however, the cartilage is
broken down and eventually wears away.
As a result, instead of gliding, bones rub against each
other, causing pain, swelling, and loss of motion.
Although the majority of patients with OA are 65 and
older, recent research shows that osteoarthritis is not
a by-product of aging. Family history of OA, being
overweight, lack of exercise, and prior joint injuries
are suggested as OA risk factors.
How Is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?
OA is diagnosed through a combination of clinical
history, patient examination, and x-rays. Other tests,
such as drawing fluid from the joint, are sometimes
The signs of OA include:
- Steady or intermittent joint pain
- Joint stiffness after sitting, sleeping, or
otherwise not moving for a long time
- Swelling or tenderness in the joints
- A crunching feeling or the sound of bones
rubbing against each other.
If you experience any of these signs, consult your
health care provider. While the diagnosis is relatively
easy to make, it is often harder to establish whether or
not OA causes the patient’s symptoms. That’s why the
treating doctor needs to not only make the diagnosis,
but also rule out other disorders and conditions that
can make the symptoms worse.
Timely diagnosis and treatment can help manage pain,
improve function, and slow the degeneration.
Should Osteoarthritis Patients Exercise?
Exercise is one of the best forms of OA treatment— and
prevention. It strengthens the muscular support around
the joints and improves and maintains joint mobility and
function. In addition, exercise helps control weight and
improves the patient’s mood and outlook— important
factors influencing the severity of the symptoms.
If you suffer from OA, consider the following exercise
- Low-impact or non-weight-bearing activities,
such as walking, stationary training, and light
weight training work best for OA patients.
- Use strengthening exercises if the key muscle
groups that relate to the function of the joints are
weakened by the degeneration.
- If you are overweight, start exercising
carefully, so as not to put too much stress on the
knee and ankle joints.
- Stair climbing, water aerobics, Theraband
workouts, and similar exercises will help to keep
the joints mobile without straining them.
- Learn to read the body’s signals and know when
to stop, slow down, or rest.
How Can Dr. Conboy Help?
Dr. Conboy, by the nature of his work, can detect the
earliest degenerative changes in the joints. He sees the
impact of degenerative changes in the spine, as well as
in the hips, knees, and other weight-bearing joints. Dr.
Conboy is also trained to relieve the pain and improve
joint function through natural therapies, such as
chiropractic manipulation, trigger-point therapy, or
some massage techniques.
Dr. Conboy can provide exercise counseling, helping you
choose exercises that are best for you. If a sore or
swollen joint prevents you from exercising, talk to Dr.
Conboy about other drug-free pain-relief options, such
as applying heat or cold to the affected area. In
addition, Dr. Conboy can help you choose proper
supplements that play important roles in OA prevention
Source: The American Chiropractic
 Osteoarthritis: Handout on Health. National
Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin
Diseases. July 2002.