If you've ever been involved in a motor vehicle collision, you're probably familiar with the term "replacement parts" or "crash parts". Your auto insurance company will usually offer to repair your car using after-market bumpers, door panels, wheel assemblies, and other parts. Or, you may prefer to have the repair done with parts from the original manufacturer. Regardless of the source of the parts, your car will not be the same as it was in its original condition. It's important to bear the auto analogy in mind if a surgeon has recommended a hip, knee, or shoulder replacement as a solution to a problem of chronic pain.
The frequency of joint replacement procedures of all types is dramatically on the rise within the last 20 years, there has been a 58% increase in total knee replacements from 2000 to 2006 and a 50% increase in total hip replacements from 1990 to 2002.1
The simple fact is that although your body may appear to be a machine, it is rather an exceedingly complex entity whose whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. Thinking of your body as a machine may be a useful metaphor, one that may aid considerably when trying to look for treatments for secondary conditions. But the metaphor is not the reality, and forgetting this crucial distinction may lead to future problems for a patient. Manufactured joints are never as good as your actual physiological structures, no matter the quality of the replacement components.
Of course, there are many circumstances in which joint replacement is indicated and provides great benefit for a patient. However, such procedures should probably be a last resort and never considered standard of care. We often associate joint degeneration with increasing age, but it is important to critically think about why only one joint of the body is wearing down at an abnormal rate, when all of the other joints of the body are the exact same age. The problem may be a structural problem of the spine and hips, contributing to abnormal wear and tear on one specific joint of the body.
Chiropractic Care and Your Joints
For most of us, lifestyle choices could be implemented long before such a critical stage is reached. Certain courses of action can help us improve joint mobility and overall musculoskeletal function. Regular vigorous exercise, for example, consistently challenges joints and muscles, helping improve range of motion and tolerance for daily mechanical stress.
Regular NeuroStructural chiropractic care is an important part of such lifestyle choices. By helping reduce nerve interference, regular chiropractic care enables your body's master system to function at peak efficiency. Visiting a NeuroStructural chiropractor will ensure that you have proper spinal structure, leading to equal weight distribution and preventing abnormal wear and tear. The result is enhanced musculoskeletal performance and increased levels of overall health and well-being.
1Singh, JA: Epidemiology of Knee and Hip Arthroplasty: A Systematic Review. The Open Orthopaedics Journal 5:80-85, 2011