March is Arthritis Awareness Month.
Arthritis is often referred to as a single disease. In fact, it is an umbrella term for more than 100 medical conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system, specifically the joints where two or more bones meet.
Arthritis-related problems include pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to joint cartilage (the tissue that covers the ends of bones, enabling them to move against each another freely without undue wear and tear). This can result in joint weakness, instability and deformities that can interfere with the most basic daily tasks such as walking, driving a car or preparing a meal.
According to Arthritis Australia, arthritis is the major cause of disability and chronic pain in Australia, with 3.85 million Australians affected at a cost to our economy of more than $23.9 billion each year in both medical care and indirect costs such as loss of earnings and lost production in the workforce.
As our population ages, the number of people with arthritis continues to grow. According to leading researcher Access Economics, the current trends suggest that by the year 2050, there will be approximately 7 million Australians suffering from some form of arthritis.
There is a widely held belief that arthritis is simply a consequence of age and should be considered ‘the pain of growing old’. But it is not a natural part of ageing. In fact, 2.4 million of all Australians suffering from the disease are of working age.
While there are about 100 forms of arthritis, the three most significant – osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout – account for more than 95 per cent of all cases in Australia. Both rheumatoid arthritis and gout are inflammatory disease conditions, while osteoarthritis is degenerative in nature and has been shown to respond favourably to chiropractic treatment.
According to Arthritis Australia, research suggests that early intervention can delay the onset of the disease, and possibly reduce the number of cases of osteoarthritis by about 500,000 within 15 years. Regular chiropractic care should be included in any early intervention strategy.
Arthritis is not yet curable. While the condition is usually manageable, it invariably impacts on a patient’s family and their quality of life. Symptoms include varying degrees of discomfort and pain. Chiropractic is a safe, scientific and non-invasive approach to managing osteoarthritis.
If you or anyone you know suffers from osteoarthritis, consulting a registered chiropractor would be an excellent start to an effective management strategy. Please feel free to discuss this with your chiropractor at your earliest convenience.