Updated: Dec 16, 2019
Frequently osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of joint degeneration, is caused by either too much or not enough motion. This is entirely different than an infection in the joint, aka septic arthritis, or immune mediated arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, but afterwards the damage in those is very similar to osteoarthritis.
Too much motion can be from an acute injury or a weak or fatigued muscle not being able to stabilize the joint during activity. This causes the ligaments to become overstretched and damages the cartilage in the joint, leading to osteoarthritis.
Joints have a poor blood supply and thus need movement to passively push fresh fluid into the joint, with the fluids life supporting oxygen and nutrition in tow. Simply, if your joints aren’t moving well, the cartilage starts to starve, leading to osteoarthritis.
People often ask if I can prevent arthritis. Many human and animal studies have been done that clearly show that proper motion decreases the development and slows the progression of arthritis. Chiropractic is aimed at restoring proper joint alignment and motion, so yes, we definitely can prevent and slow the progression of arthritis!
Does arthritis cause pain? Yes and no. Not all arthritic joints cause pain. Personally, I have moderate arthritis in my neck with absolutely no pain at all! Can arthritis cause pain? Absolutely! The changes in the joint, once significantly advanced, typically cause misalignment and a lack of joint motion. It is the combination of the arthritis, misalignment, and lack of motion that cause the pain and lead to further dysfunction.
When should you bring your pet to a chiropractor or see one yourself? As soon as the joints are just starting to move improperly, often before signs and symptoms have appeared. How can you know? Often you can't, which is why we want to periodically examine you or your pet even when it is well. Then we can get the movement and alignment back to normal before any degeneration has occur. Note, that degeneration can start to occur in as little as 4-6 weeks with scar tissue being present by 12 weeks of improper movement.