This month’s newsletter focuses on Arthritis: what are the causes and how to manage the symptoms.

Osteoarthritis (OA), also commonly known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), is the most common form of arthritis. It is the most common cause of difficulties with mobility in the older population. Approximately 30% of the population between the ages of 50 and 70 years of age have problems related to OA, and that percentage increases with age. Osteoarthritis is a progressive, noninflammatory disease characterized by changes in the structure and function of the joint cartilage, adjacent bone, joint capsule and other surrounding tissue. Most commonly OA will affect the spine, hips, knees, and knuckles. However, any joint in the body can be affected.

In the past, OA was often described as “wear and tear” of the joint. This can be misleading as the cartilage actually needs ongoing movement to stay healthy. There is a healthy balance between the regeneration and degeneration of cartilage. Osteoarthritis occurs when there is more degeneration/break down than regeneration. This will cause the cartilage to thin, crack and possibly disappear. Bones can then start to rub against each other. Cartilage needs a certain amount of load to regenerate. This is why healthy loads need to be applied on the joint to aid in recovery. Thus, OA can be better described as joint failure.