Major role for chiropractors in osteoarthritis mgmt: new guidelines
Local muscle strengthening and general aerobic fitness together with manipulation and stretching should be the core treatments for managing osteoarthritis according to a major update on guidance to healthcare professionals.
The update comes from the influential UK National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) published recently. The New Zealand Chiropractors' Association (NZCA) has welcomed the guidance, which recommends care that is widely available from the country's chiropractors. According to Arthritis New Zealand over 300,000 New Zealanders are living with osteoarthritis.
NZCA spokesperson and chiropractor Dr Hayden Thomas said: "Activity is a key part of maintaining good joint health. Proper movement and alignment of the spine is especially important as it forms the lynchpin for overall health and wellbeing through its relationship with the nervous system.
"The new guidance points out that osteoarthritis need not be an inevitable part of ageing or that it will necessarily get worse. These evidence-based recommendations on the most effective ways of diagnosing and managing osteoarthritis show that the core treatment for osteoarthritis remains exercise, which relieves pain for some people and also improves function.
"As chiropractors we already offer advice to those with osteoarthritis who are overweight or obese on ways to lose weight as part of helping them self-manage their condition and it is good to see this is another amended original recommendation.
"We welcome too the recommendation that the symptoms often caused by osteoarthritis, such as pain and limited joint movement, can be managed with muscle strengthening, exercise and weight loss if people are overweight.
"We note that the original recommendation that manipulation and stretching should be considered as an adjunct to core treatments, particularly for osteoarthritis of the hip, has been maintained, all of which reinforces the important role that chiropractors can play in the management of this condition. NZCA members are pleased to be working cooperatively with all agencies and professions in supporting the findings from this research.'
Dr Thomas points out that research is showing us that we are relying too much on pharmaceutical medications with potentially dangerous side effects, when what many of us need to do is take steps to improve our health and wellbeing with lifestyle changes.
The NZCA recommends a basic three-point plan to help support healthy joint function and minimise the possibility of degeneration:
1. Get checked - having every member of the family checked by an NZCA member chiropractor helps the spine and nervous system to function at an optimal level for overall health and well being. They can also give you great advice on making positive lifestyle changes.
2. Straighten up - doing the three-minute set of simple exercises recommended by Straighten Up New Zealand every day will help improve posture, stabilise core muscle groups, enhance health and prevent spinal disability.
3) Watch your back - it is also important to encourage family members and work colleagues to stand or sit correctly and to take frequent breaks to walk around and stretch if they have been sitting down for a while. This will help to stop muscles getting tight and strained.
Each of these recommendations alone is great, but in combination they are a real winning strategy.