Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Interestingly, chiropractic adjustments can help to prevent arthritis.
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down to the point that it contributes to inflammation or restricted movement.
Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine.
Most people believe that osteoarthritis is an old person's disease and that it is entirely a consequence of aging. If that were the case, arthritis would be inevitable — and it's not.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), arthritis is more common among adults aged 65 years or older, but people of all ages (including children) can be affected. Approximately 66% of people with arthritis are younger than 65 and it's more common in women (26%) than men (19%) in every age group.
Here's a few other interesting facts about osteoarthritis:
Of people 18 to 44 years old, 7.1% report doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
Of people who are age 45–64, 29.3% report doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
In the 65 or older age group, 49.6% report doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
While the risk of developing most types of arthritis increases with age, keep in mind that it is not the only contributing factor .
One of the strongest predictors of developing osteoarthritis is sedentarism or a lack of proper movement.
Only Move the Joints You Want to Keep
Nothing becomes more important to a person’s health than the health of your joints.
As a chiropractor, I commonly see people with complaints of neck and back pain. We will always take x-rays to assess what the spine looks like, and sadly, over 90% of the time, we identify some degree of spinal degeneration.
Spinal degeneration presents as thinning of the cartilaginous disc between the vertebrae (called “degenerative disc disease”) as well as the formation of osteophytes, or bone spurs, along the edges of the bones.
This process can occur at any joint but is particularly troublesome in the spine, due to all of the neurological structures it can interfere with.
While we don’t want degeneration anywhere in our bodies, joints like hips, knees, and shoulders are all much easier to replace. However, we only get one spine, and generally speaking, a spine that is misaligned is going to cause all the other joints to deteriorate much faster.
The spine consists of 24 vertebral bones (plus the sacrum and coccyx) connected by 48 separate “facet” joints. These are the joints where Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) is most commonly found. DJD is a gradual process that involves the wearing down of structures that make up a joint. This can happen anywhere in the skeletal system that has suffered a trauma or undergone too much “wear and tear.”
This is why it will be frequently be found on one side of the body. For instance, if someone tends to put more weight on their right leg, the right hip and knee will likely degenerate faster. This is unlike an inflammatory joint disease, like Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), that will occur on both sides of the body to multiple joints.
While conditions like RA tend to be genetically inherited, structural degeneration can happen to anyone, which is why it’s the leading cause of joint pain in adults.
When told “getting old” is to blame, people are dis-empowered. Although you cannot do anything about aging, you can absolutely do everything to prevent unnatural wear and tear.
As a doctor of chiropractic who mainly works with joints, hearing that people are unhealthy because of aging is like telling a dentist that people get cavities due to old age. It's just not true.
Loss of Proper Joint Movement Accelerates Aging
Up until the late 80's, medical science taught that bed rest and elevation was the best someone could do to recover from hip, knee, ankle or back surgery.
In fact, most elite medical schools taught that a joint would heal best if it was allowed to rest.
It wasn't until 1987 when researchers started to understand that the slightest restriction of a joint will result in permanent and irreversible degeneration within just two weeks. 
The study further noted that if the restricted motion returned to normal, the degeneration would not be reversed but all progression would stop.
Today, we now know that motion is like lotion for your joints and aids in the recovery and health of those joints.
At it's most basic form, chiropractic adjustments are a concentrated form of motion for these joints and helps to reverse the process of degeneration.
The study made it clear that frequency of movement is important to halt the progress of arthritis.
This is exactly why the frequency of adjustments over time are important. While one adjustment is great for your body, the more you get, the better the results will be.
Long Term Chiropractic Care is Better than Short Term
This research also helped to clarify why regular long-term Chiropractic adjustments are necessary for spinal, posture, and organ health. Many people, particularly ones who already have some level of spinal degeneration present, need to be checked and/or adjusted more frequently than one time every two weeks. Every human should be seeing a Chiropractor, on a regular basis, according to the outcomes of a study like this one because it demonstrates the importance of proper moving joints; and who helps you to move your joints better than a Doctor of Chiropractic care!
Symptoms Are Not a Good Indicator for Care
A significant part of the research also did not find an association between pain and the onset of the degeneration progresses. The presence of pain is a poor indicator of whether a person needs a Chiropractic adjustment or not. Spinal degeneration can occur within two weeks of restricted vertebral movement. Pain may or may not be present for arthritis to be present or progressive.
The tug of gravity and the progression of spinal and joint degeneration from movement restrictions all contribute to the need for all people to visit a Chiropractor regularly. Humans age over time like all powerful structures. This research points out that regular spinal adjustments will slow the erosion process during aging. Chiropractic adjustments prevent the degeneration of spinal joints by increasing movement and removing interference to the central nervous system.
The degenerative process exists within the spine and nervous system of all people who have vertebral subluxation and are not regularly visiting a Chiropractor. Long-term regular Chiropractic adjustments maximize health and function of the body and organs. Better health awaits everyone who makes the choice to unlock the power that exists within the body.
How to Prevent Arthritis or Osteoarthritis
Hopefully you now understand that most forms of arthritis and osteoarthritis are preventable. More importantly, I hope that you stop blaming age and start thinking about all the other factors that play a bigger role – such as movement.
Osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage at the ends of our bones start to deteriorate. This deterioration occurs when our joints are not moving through their normal ranges of motion. This is why flexibility, mobility, exercise and chiropractic adjustments are so important when it comes to preventing this condition.
Patients always ask us what is the best adjustment frequency to maintain their spine.
My recommendation is the same that I do for myself and my family:
Weekly adjustments are the best.
At minimum, you want to get your spine adjusted every two weeks
Other factors that play a role include maintaining a healthy body weight, consuming an anti-inflammatory diet and staying hydrated.
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