During the next 5-10 years approximately 10 million Canadians will enter their 50's, the age at which the painful and often disabling symptoms of arthritis usually appear. This is surely cause for concern, given that over 4 million Canadians, almost 15% of the population, now suffer from arthritis. Given these figures, it is no exaggeration to say that arthritis already represents a major health problem. Even now the alarm bells are sounding; consider the following statistics from the Arthritic Society of Canada:
All the bones that make up joints have cartilage lining their ends. This cartilage allows easy gliding action of the joint as well as lubrication. With time, cartilage can wear down and become cracked and pitted resulting in pain, decreased joint mobility and stiffness¡ this is Osteoarthritis. All joints can be affected by Osteoarthritis, however, the weight bearing joints such as the low back, hips and knees are more prone to wear and tear.
S was a female in her mid sixties who came to the Centre using crutches. She had extensive Osteoarthritis to her knees, but more so on the right. This was verified via X-rays. S complained about walking which was limited due to the pain and swelling. She was also worried regarding all the medication she was taking. Another problem was her inability to bend her right knee to any appreciable extent.
After my examination I discussed nutrition with S. She had a good breakfast, with a light lunch and supper. However, she was not taking any supplements. I advised her on a special pure Glucosamine. She promised to take it as outlined, but was more interested in how quickly her pain would stop and when she would be able to limit her use of medication. I advised S that this would take sometime because there was a lag time beginning therapy with the laser, and experiencing results. I also mentioned that due to the extent of her Osteoarthritis, results would take longer than usual.
After 18 treatments, S began to use only a cane. She had decreased her medication by fifty percent and had more movement of her right knee. There was still swelling. After 24 treatments, S walked better due to her increased right knee movement and decreased swelling. S wanted to know when she would be able to stop using her cane! I mentioned that we still had a lot of work to do, such as strengthening her leg muscles to provide her with better support.
This was challenging, because there was still the low-grade inflammation in her knees. The gentle exercises that were prescribed increased the pain, this discouraged S a great deal. However with persistence and lots of icing at home she slowly progressed.
S is walking more easily now, her movements are more fluid and she is able to partake in certain activities, which she had stopped some time ago. She is off medication, sleeping better, but still needs to use her cane as she continues to strengthen her thigh muscles.
Without the laser, I would not have accepted S as a patient. Due to the laser's ability to decrease pain, control inflammation and heal tissue, I felt sure that I could assist. S has not totally returned to normal function yet. To improve the degeneration of cartilage due to Osteoarthritis requires long term therapy, but I have been able to improve her ability to participate in more activities of daily living with less pain and improved movement.