Graham Beaton BHSc, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative condition that affects most individuals late in life. This condition results in damage to joints, which can lead to joint deformity, and can cause pain and decreased mobility.

In a healthy normal joint, two components are responsible to ensure normal and painless motion. They are the synovium and cartilage. The synovium, is a fluid filled membrane that surrounds the joint and its fluid, synovial fluid, is a lubricant that supplies cartilage with oxygen and nutrients. Cartilage is a tissue that covers the ends of bones. It acts as a slippery surface in the joint and is able to resist the compression between bones during movement. If either of these tissues is damaged and begins to deteriorate, osteoarthritis develops.

In the onset of the disease, either the surface of the cartilage or the synovium becomes inflamed and swollen. This change affects the ability of the cartilage to concentrate fluid as a lubricant, and the surface of the cartilage becomes damaged. As this progresses the cartilage loses its elasticity and ability to concentrate water, increasing its susceptibility to be damaged. As the cartilage is destroyed, the ends of the bones in the joint may be left unprotected. This process may be made worse as the body attempts to heal the damaged tissue, resulting in abnormal growth of both bone and cartilage.

While the cause of osteoarthritis is not known, several factors are known to play a role in the development and progression of the disease, including injury, genetics, obesity, biomechanical factors and age. For instance one study showed that individuals who suffered knee injuries were five times more likely to have osteoarthritis in the affected knee than individuals who did not experience a knee injury.

Obesity is another risk factor for the development and progression of osteoarthritis. While higher risk is related to increased weight on the joints, it has been found that obese individuals also have increased risk for osteoarthritis in non-weight bearing joints, such as in the fingers. This occurs as a result of increased inflammation.

There are several biomechanical factors that can influence the onset and development of osteoarthritis. These include misalignment of joints, joint laxity, and decreased sense of body position (i.e. proprioception) as related to coordinated movement. Thus it is important to be physically active in order to maintain muscle strength and coordination. Also, participating in exercises such as yoga may help to increase balance and proprioception, which may encourage proper loading of joints.

Graham Beaton, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, advises on nutrition and lifestyle in order to decrease pain, inflammation and support joint health. Furthermore, he practices acupuncture which has shown to be effective in the management of joint pain and osteoarthritis.

If you have any questions about osteoarthritis, Naturopathic Medicine, or Acupuncture can help you, please call 613-290-6115. Graham is in practice in the Golden Triangle neighborhood of downtown Ottawa.