This condition is associated with pain, inflammation, loss of function, stiffness, decreased range of motion and reduced tolerance to joint loading. Pain is usually worse when waking in the morning and subsides after about 30 minutes-1 hour.
Predisposing factors include repetitive motion/loading, infection, arthritic/ inflammatory conditions, osteoporosis, hormone disorders, obesity, sickle cell disease, among other musculoskeletal disorders. DJD/OA is equally common in men and women before age 55 but increases in women thereafter. Higher rates are observed in the hips in men and in the knees in women. An old trauma or injury can have a profound impact on the progression of DJD/OA leading to early onset of symptoms.
DJD/ OA is a progressive disease that affects all of us at a given point in time. Rehabilitaion and exercise can help maintain strong and healthy joints, limiting the stress exerted on these structures, thus minimizing the progression of DJD/OA. Muskuloskeletal assessments may also be beneficial in identifying and addressing dysunctional areas within the body before they begin to degenerate and become pain generators.
Guided rehabilitating is the first line of defense against halting the disease progression. Low impact land or aquatic exercise can be exceptionally useful during the initial phases of treatment. Depending on what joint is affected weight loss can also have a positive impact. During the later stages of rehabilitation focusing on increasing muscular strength and coordination is essential. Patients that participate in regular exercise tend to experience greater improvement.
If minimal changes are observed with the help of rehabilitation, chiropractic techniques can help decrease pressure on the joint and increase its range of motion, allowing for increased synovial fluid circulation within the joint capsule leading to decreased pain and improved function. Photobiomodulation/Laser Therapy can also be exceptionally effective by directly increasing the cellular turnover at the site of injury and increasing the overall tissue integrity, thereby decreasing pain and dysfunction
Once the condition is under control preventing undo increased stress at the joint is paramount to minimize risk of re-exacerbation. Since this is a progressive disease, it may not ever fully go away but it’s progression can be slowed and in some cases even reversed given appropriate therapy and management. If the above treatments fail, imaging and an orthopedic referral may be warranted.