By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, also known as the “wear and tear” arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage of the joints breaks down over time, and it can affect any joint in the body. Osteoarthritis is a major cause of functional disability as we age. When looking at all of the chronic diseases suffered by the elderly, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis are the most common.
Although there is a substantial amount of scientific and clinical research on osteoarthritis, there is no uniform agreement regarding the cause and pathogenesis of the condition. It is generally agreed that cause is multifactorial.
Associated risk factors for the development of osteoarthritis include:
- Mechanical stress
- Joint trauma
- Genetic predisposition
- Dietary habits
The prevalence of co-morbid conditions makes treating elderly osteoarthritis patients different from treating other populations. Many of these elderly patients are on numerous medications which can have interactions or serious side effects. Therefore, the treatment or management of a variety of conditions in the elderly population can be a challenge.
Currently, there is no medical treatment that prevents or slows down the progression of osteoarthritis. The standard of care focuses primarily on alleviating symptoms with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This initial frontline treatment may initially be helping the patients with their symptoms but, in the long run, it may be driving the pathological pathway even further.
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