What is Osteoarthritis?
Things wear out—this is a simple fact of life. It’s practical to want things to last, and through regular maintenance we attempt to make them last longer. But what about our bodies? Do we put an appropriate amount of effort into maintaining them?
When we talk about body parts wearing out, the term osteoarthritis often comes up. Most people are aware of the word, but many don’t really understand what it means. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative process that affects one or more joints in the body; in a general sense, it is a metric of wear and tear in the joints of our bodies.
The man who developed Chiropractic once said, “many of us take better care of our automobiles than we do our own bodies… yet the auto has replaceable parts.” If your body had an owner’s manual, would your regularly scheduled services have a date stamp next to them? Car engineers come up with specific service intervals to best reduce wear and tear on the various parts of the car. If our body had a maintenance schedule from the factory, these osteoarthritic changes are one of the ‘wears and tears’ we would want to slow down.
Breaking down the word osteoarthritis into its three roots helps to understand what it describes:
- Osteo: Pertaining to bone
- Arth: Pertaining to a joint
- Itis: Inflammation
With this understanding, we know that osteoarthritis is a process involving inflammation—it is the breakdown that occurs when a joint is inflamed over time. This begs the question of what caused the joint to become inflamed in the first place. Not everyone’s joints degenerate at the same rate; what makes it even more puzzling is that some people will have one joint that is perfectly healthy while the neighbouring joint shows signs of arthritis. This discrepancy in degeneration occurs because there are multiple things that can cause this condition, and these multiple factors may be why there tends to be confusion around arthritis.
People who suffer from osteoarthritis may have questions about what causes it and how to slow the progression. Things like genetics, diet, previous injuries, as well as alignment and posture are all factors in joint inflammation and affect how fast a joint degenerates and develops osteoarthritis.
Concerned that osteoarthritis may be impacting you? Or maybe you’re merely curious about how you can prevent it. Just as good maintenance practices allow you to get more mileage from your car, proper body maintenance, including balanced posture, may help reduce joint stress and inflammation both currently and in the future. Ask one of our NUCCA doctors and we can help determine which factors may be relevant for you and how to make choices that will prolong the life of your joints and get more mileage out of your body!
Dr. Trevor Hillard
The Vital Posture™ Clinic