Arthritis: Is It Truly Inevitable?
There are many different types of arthritis that individuals can be diagnosed with. I have found that this is a very popular topic of conversation especially as we age. The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting many joints, including those in the hands and feet. In rheumatoid arthritis, the body's immune system attacks its own tissue, including joints. It does this by affecting joint linings, which causes painful inflammation or swelling. In severe cases, rheumatoid arthritis can even begin to attack internal organs. Rheumatoid arthritis can have both genetic and environmental components. It is marked by chronic full body inflammation.
Osteoarthritis is another form of arthritis and is the more common diagnosis when looking at these two. Osteoarthritis affects a vast majority of our population especially those over the age of 55 years old. There is a common misconception about how we develop this osteoarthritis. I often hear that patients are told osteoarthritis is simply a result of aging and that it is inevitable for most. This is not true. In fact, there is plenty of recent research that refutes these misconceptions. Osteoarthritis develops when there is abnormal structure in an area and then we continue to move and perform everyday activities. As movement continues with these abnormal structural alignments, eventually our joints are going to degenerate due to the improper function and stress that this adds. Arthritis is actually a very intelligent response by the body because our brain recognizes that the joints are no longer functioning like they once were and that they are getting unstable as degeneration progresses. The body responds to this by beginning to surround the joint with bone in order to stabilize the now unstable joint. Obviously this has other implications affecting not only our quality of life, but also affecting other tissues in the region.
So what can we do to prevent the development or progression of osteoarthritis? The best thing would be to maintain good joint structure and alignment to prevent abnormal wear and tear on the joint surfaces. Increased movement is also very important once things are returned to proper alignment because this will help with increased fluid flow in and out of the area. The flow of fluid throughout the joints will remove any debris that may have been present from the previous damage. The downside to osteoarthritis is that there isn’t a way to get rid of it once it has formed. The bone that is being laid down by the body will not be reabsorbed even if joint structure has been returned to normal and proper function. This is why it is imperative to keep our body in proper alignment; Preventing issues before they arise is always the better choice.