For those plagued by osteoarthritis simple things like walking down stairs, opening a jar, or kneeling on the ground can become difficult and painful. In the early stages of osteoarthritis there’s little to no pain in a joint but in later stages pain can get so bad it can immobilize a person, potentially making them dependant on pain killers or forcing them to consider joint replacement surgery.
5 Things That Contribute to Osteoarthritis
1. Lax Joints: A lax joint is an unstable joint. In other words, the joint has too much movement. It could have become lax due to repeated injuries, like in the case of multiple ankle sprains, hereditary reasons or other more complicated tension patterns in the body that can create unstable joints. Excessive joint movement ultimately leads to joint strain, muscle spasms and stress on the joint cartilage.
What you can do about it: The first thing you want to do is stabilize the affected joint(s). One of the easiest ways to do this is to strengthen the muscles that cross the troubled joint. For example, if your ankle is unstable, strengthen the lower leg and foot muscles. Joints can also become unstable in response to larger tension patterns elsewhere in the body, usually in the core of the body. Matrix Repatterning offers a simple way to figure out which of the core tension patterns are contributing to joint instability.
2. Heel Pounding: This is where a person walks heavy footed. You’ll know if you walk this way if a resounding boom, boom, boom can be heard as you pad across a wooden floor. Heel pounding translates a lot of stress through the joints of the ankle, knee and hip, and ultimately aggravates joint cartilage.
What you can do about it: Change your walking habits. Start by making sure you have comfortable footware that doesn’t restrict your feet. If your feet feel sore in your shoes, change your shoes. If you are in a job that requires you to stand or walk on concrete all day, look into anti fatigue shoes. For more specific help, orthotics or a lift in the shoe may be helpful. If you are getting orthotics, be sure to ask the person making them to assess you for a leg length difference. They will measure your legs to see if one leg is slightly longer than the other. If one leg is indeed longer than the other by even 5mm, this can be enough of a difference to irritate your body.
3. Faulty Movement: If your movement is inhibited due to an acute injury or chronic pain, the way you move can change. Short term faulty movement is ok, but long term faulty movement tends to lead to excessive muscle tension, connective tissue restriction and joint stress.
What you can do about it: Retrain your muscles. If you have osteoarthritis, you will most likely have weak muscles. Work with a Physiotherapist, Massage Therapist, Chiropractor or other health professional who is able to assess your muscle or structural imbalances and offer corrective training programs to turn things around. There are also movement/therapy techniques like Feldinkrais or the Alexander technique that have been shown to greatly improve the way we move.
4. Old Injuries: Studies have shown correlations between previous joint injury and the onset of osteoarthritis later in life. In recent years, the University of California studied the effects of injury within bone by using a powerful atomic microscope. The findings were astounding. Dr. Paul Hansma, who headed the study, found that traumatized bone would actually enlarge. If a bone enlarges due to injury, it will reduce the amount of space between joints and lead to stress on the articular cartilage.
What you can do about it: It’s never too late to start treating a painful condition, even if you’ve been struggling with it for years. Matrix Repatterning offers a revolutionary approach to treating bone that has enlarged because of impact injury. Incredibly, this therapy can stimulate the traumatized bone in a way that can make it shrink in size. Reducing the size of a bone will create more space in the joint, reducing the stress on the joint cartilage. Other therapies such as Massage Therapy, Osteopathy, Acupuncture, Naturopathy, Homeopathy and Chiropracty can be helpful in treating osteoarthritis as well. Sometimes a combination of treatment is required to attain the best results.
5. Repetitive Joint Stress/Injury: Each time we sustain an injury to a joint the bone gets more irritated, the ligaments get looser (if sprained) and the muscles tend to weaken. All of this can set the stage for increased joint stress and osteoarthritis.
What you can do about it: One of the best ways to prevent injury is to improve the overall strength and flexibility in your body. This coupled with a healthy diet and low stress lifestyle is a good recipe for preventing repetitive joint stress and injury. Depending on your daily activities, you may be putting too much stress on a joint, making your symptoms worse. For example, if running aggravates your knees, make sure that you have foot ware that has been properly fitted for you and that you are running on soft surfaces, not concrete. At times this isn’t enough and you may need to change your exercise habits. Instead of running, go for a bike ride, a swim or get on the rowing machine. These activities put very little stress on the joints and are good alternatives for those suffering from joint pain. And remember, lax joints, faulty movement, old injuries and heel pounding all play a role in stressing your joints.
Osteoarthritis is often called the wear and tear syndrome because it develops over time due to previous joint injury and/or regular stress on a joint. By reducing or removing the negative stressors that contribute to osteoarthritis, exploring treatment for the affected joint and building your strength, it’s possible to drastically lessen the pain associated with this debilitating condition.