Arthritis: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

What Is Arthritis?

As we age, the cartilage covering the ends of the bones in our joints deteriorates. This causes the bones to rub together, creating a painful condition called osteoarthritis. In general, osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that limits the range of motion in your hands, hips, spine, and knees. If you are suffering from joint aches, joint stiffness, swelling or have subluxations in the neck, lower back or in joints throughout the body, you may be one of the millions who have an arthritis problem and are looking for orthopedic physicians in Anchorage or orthopedics physical rehabilitation technicians. Osteoarthritis develops due to the continuous deterioration of our bones and joints and creates a painful condition. Arthritis treatment can be approached via several means.

Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints, such as one or both knees or wrists or a part of your spinal column. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Joint pain and stiffness are the main symptoms of arthritis.

Less common types of arthritis may be associated with conditions that also affect other parts of your body. For example, lupus can affect the kidneys and lungs, in addition to joints, while psoriasis is primarily a skin disease that sometimes also affects joints.

What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis?

Joints will change over time, especially sets of joints you use the most throughout your life or harm in some way because of an injury. Pain in the joints, stiffness, and lack of mobility or range of motion, swelling, and redness or warmth in the skin around joints are the most common signs of arthritis. On the serious side of the spectrum, symptoms could involve joint deformity and complete loss of function.

What Are the Different Types of Arthritis?

To be honest, technically there are 100+ different forms of arthritis  – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common. The first is from wear and tear as you age and typically impacts folks over 50. The other occurs when your body’s immune system, for unknown reasons, attacks joint systems on both sides of the body – hands, knees, etc. Four other types that are relatively common are:

  • Psoriatic Arthritis: An inflammatory arthritic condition brought on by psoriasis.
  • Reactive Arthritis: Typically caused by a bacterial infection like chlamydia, shigella, etc.
  • Degenerative Arthritis: Most commonly associated with degenerative disc disease.
  • Juvenile Arthritis: Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis is when a child’s immune system causes joint inflammation.

What Body Parts Does Arthritis Affect?

Excellent question. Now, as you know, the body is one interconnected mind-blowingly complex system of systems. Anything that impacts one part, or one system, or one link in the chain, impacts them all to a degree. Mild to serious arthritis can impact skin, bones, soft tissues, eyes, mouth, your cardiovascular and immune systems, as well as your nervous system. A stellar reason not to let joint issues go undiagnosed and untreated!

The most common locations include hip arthritis, arthritis in the wrists and fingers, spinal arthritis, arthritis in the neck, arthritis in the knees, and feet. Joint arthritis is hard on surrounding cartilage, tendons, ligaments and soft tissue, as is the accompanying inflammation.

What Causes Arthritis?

Genetics, aging, the environment, injuries, infections, and diseases. We find a number of causes for arthritis, but it ultimately depends on the specific type of arthritis in question. For osteoarthritis, it’s the slow breaking down of your joint capsules as you age. For many other arthritic conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, absolute causes are unknown at this time but research is ongoing. The real question is what’s causing your arthritic symptoms? Stop by any Better Health Chiropractic clinic and we can start getting to the bottom of it with you.

How Is Arthritis Diagnosed?

In most cases, it’s actually quite conventional. An assessment is performed by one of our chiropractic doctors. Along with your symptoms, this assessment will include x-rays, a physical exam to check mobility, and sometimes a blood test to look for certain markers like rheumatoid factors. Blood tests can also help us distinguish between distinct types of arthritis, while x-rays show us exactly what’s happening in and around joint capsules.

How to Stop Arthritis Pain?

Arthritis pain relief and its management can be complex, and there are a wide variety of options depending on the nature and severity of the condition. Topical creams and balms, electrical nerve stimulation, over-the-counter medications, injections, and talks of surgery, with so many options, how can we know which to try next?

The real question is what will work best for you and provide pain relief? Perhaps, it’s  massage therapy for arthritis and a few adjustments to your diet and lifestyle. The first step is getting your condition diagnosed. Then a treatment course can be made to fit you and your specific arthritic condition.

What Is the Treatment for Arthritis?

At Better Health Chiropractic, we help our Alaskan neighbors with their arthritis conditions through a mix of noninvasive chiropractic medicine, physical rehabilitation, and massage therapy. For example, through a chiropractic adjustment, we align the impacted joints to enable proper movement, decrease inflammation, and slow down the degenerative process. If you’re wondering how to treat arthritis in the Anchorage, Wasilla or Juneau areas, contact us. We can help!

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Are There Natural Remedies for Arthritis?

Absolutely. Home remedies for arthritis go back many, many thousands of years. Humans used to be much harder on our joints and skeletal systems than we are today, at least in the more modernized world. Begin by reaching an ideal BMI (Body Mass Index) and enjoying exercises that help maintain mobility and flexibility in the body.

After that, you can choose from options like hot or cold therapy, acupuncture, eating plenty of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (industrial hemp seed oil is a great option) and anti-inflammatory nutrients, herbal supplements and teas, and plant-based pain relief.

Chiropractic care works in a holistic manner promoting the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Treatments are designed to help the body avoid pain conditions and help diminish them if already present.

What Is the Most Common Arthritis Medication?

That’s a tough one to answer. In general, most people with diagnosed or undiagnosed arthritis conditions take anti-inflammatory painkillers, or NSAIDs – nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, available by prescription and over-the-counter. There are other pain relievers, both drugs and topicals, and then of course steroid injections for more serious issues. For conditions where the body’s immune system is attacking joints, Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs or DMARDs are also an option.

How to Prevent Arthritis?

Well, avoid joint injuries for starters. Eat a healthy balanced diet and practice good posture as much as you can. Maintain an ideal BMI to lessen stress on load-bearing joints. Truth is, there’s no way to fully prevent arthritis, especially if we’re talking about age-related issues. Lowering the risk for symptoms quickly becomes the consideration for many individuals with a skeleton. Preventive action may include specific exercises to manage and avoid symptoms, inflammation, and pain relief.