Cartilage is not stagnant; it slowly undergoes remodelling. Proteoglycans, the building blocks of cartilage are slowly being laid down which builds and repairs cartilage. Proteoglycans also degrade and break up causing cartilage to become uneven and thinner.
What accelerates cartilage breakdown?
When cartilage is broken down quicker than it is laid down, arthritic changes are occurring and if the joint and ligaments are too stiff there will be more pressure and friction on the cartilage. If muscles around the joint are too tight, torn or pulled there will be more pressure on the cartilage. The extra pressure and friction cause some inflammation which breaks the cartilage down. If the joint is too loose the bones slop & slide around which also places extra pressure and friction on the cartilage. This often happens when the muscles are weak or poorly coordinated. Both these cause some mild joint inflammation which breaks down the cartilage (often no swelling is seen).
Proprioception – the nerve signals to the brain which “tells” the brain where the joints are can be stimulated by joint manipulation, some muscle therapies, and certain exercises. This improves the muscle’s control of the joint, reducing the pressure on the cartilage.
Anti-Inflammatory drug use
NSAIDs, Non-Steroidal Anti- Inflammatory Drugs like Ibuprofen, Dicloflenac and Naproxen reduce the inflammatory process and are effective in reducing joint pain. BUT, the NSAIDs do not change the joint movement and how the muscles control the joints, which is often the cause of the joint inflammation. AND it seems another side effect is to block the manufacture of proteoglycans, the stuff in cartilage. Two studies found long term use slowed down cartilage production therefore this is not the solution.
How can you help fight inflammation and degeneration?
Joint Manipulation improves joint mobility and reduces muscle tension, reducing friction on the cartilage. Fast muscle stretches, trigger point therapy & dry needling can all reduce muscle tension helping to relieve pressure on the cartilage. Your diet and the use of natural supplements are also key to lowering inflammation, joint and muscle care.
Talk to either our chiropractor or nutritionist for more information or if you have concerns.