If you suffer from arthritis, you’re acutely aware of the kind of pain that comes with it. It can be anything from a dull, chronic, daily ache to a sharp, stinging, sudden pain when a certain movement triggers the condition. Relief is hard to come by, as arthritis is a degenerative disease that tends to get worse over time, but there are plenty of coping methods out there that can alleviate the pain associated with the condition.
Chiropractic care is one of the best ways to deal with arthritis pain because it helps reduce inflammation while increasing your overall alignment and healthy bodily function. It’s also a natural, non-invasive, and non-pharmaceutical treatment method, as opposed to most other arthritis solutions out there. If you’re interested in treating your arthritis pain with a chiropractic physician, start your research today!
Before we get into how a chiropractor can help you with your arthritis pain, it’s important that you understand, in black-and-white terms, what arthritis really is. There’s a good amount of misleading information out there about the condition, so we wanted to clear this up first.
Arthritis is a deterioration of the cartilage in our joints, at its most basic definition. Cartilage is found in between the two (or more) bones in the joint, and its main function is to keep the joint lubricated, flexible, and functioning properly. When this cartilage deteriorates over time as we age, it causes the bones to rub together directly, limiting movement and causing inflammation and intense pain.
Also called osteoarthritis, this condition affects millions worldwide – believe it or not, about 23% of American adults have arthritis, according to the Center for Disease Control. Treatment methods vary depending on the individual, but many people find relief from regular meetings with orthopedic physical rehabilitation therapists and chiropractors.
If you suspect you have early stages of arthritis, or if you’ve been suffering for years, you may want to make sure your symptoms match up with typical arthritis symptoms to make sure it’s not a more serious condition that affects the joints, like lupus or psoriasis.
Since arthritis is an inflammation of your joints, these are some of the most common symptoms of arthritis:
If your arthritis has progressed and become more serious over time, you may have lost all function of the joint entirely, causing the rest of your body to overcompensate and creating issues elsewhere in the body, or the joint might be deformed due to malfunction.
The most common areas you would find arthritis in the body include the hips, wrists and fingers, knees, and the spinal column. An arthritic condition in any of these areas could cause pain and inflammation in the surrounding soft tissues, tendons, and ligaments. It’s important to get screened for arthritis if you have any type of pain in these areas, so that you’re getting to the root of the issue as soon as possible, as opposed to just treating the surface level pain.
While there are over 100 different types of arthritis, since the deterioration of cartilage can happen in so many different ways, there are five that are the most common among adults suffering from the condition:
This is the most common type, and typically affects people over the age of 50. In this type, the deterioration of the cartilage happens due to typical wear and tear over the years.
2) Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is also very common, but it’s a bit more serious and unexplained. In this condition, for unknown reasons, the body’s immune system attacks your joints, mistaking them for a pathogen. This can happen to people of any age.
3) Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis is associated with a different disease called psoriasis. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disease, and it can cause inflammation and joint damage as well.
4) Degenerative Arthritis
Degenerative arthritis is typically concentrated in the spinal column, and is a deterioration of the cartilage in between vertebrae. It is associated with degenerative disc disease, and can be very painful while causing deformities and misalignments.
5) Juvenile Arthritis
This one is fairly self explanatory – this is a childhood condition in which the child’s immune system brings about joint inflammation.
These are some of the most common types of arthritis, but you may be wondering, what exactly causes arthritis in the first place?
The bad news is that many of the causes of arthritis are either unknown or unavoidable. The good news is that a chiropractor or physical rehabilitation therapist can help you manage your symptoms and pain.
The root causes of arthritis are often genetics, age (wear and tear), environmental factors, or injury. It’s different for everyone, since everyone has a unique body and unique circumstances, but these are the most common. In cases of rheumatoid arthritis, the medical community simply doesn’t know the cause – yet! Research is being done everyday, and hopefully the cause is discovered soon so that it may be avoided in the future.
For now, the best way to deal with arthritis is to get proper care and deal with your symptoms, rather than driving yourself crazy trying to understand the root cause of the condition itself, because it’s likely that you can’t change or prevent it, unfortunately.
But don’t despair! There are plenty of arthritic pain relief avenues available for you in today’s modern medicine world. Take a look through what you can do today and at your doctor’s/chiropractor’s office to best manage your arthritis.
Again, like the unique nature of the causes of arthritis, pain management for arthritis should also be just as individual and unique as the person with the condition. Depending on the severity, type, and length of the symptoms, as well as the lifestyle of the patient, a unique treatment method can be developed by properly trained physicians.
Common and effective pain relief treatments include chiropractic adjustments, physical rehabilitation therapy, massage, and other non-invasive modalities. These types of treatments are effective because by keeping the body in proper alignment and making sure it is functioning properly, it can slow down the degenerative process, and make the arthritic condition easier to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Chiropractic’s primary goal is to encourage the body to heal itself by connecting the nervous system more efficiently to the rest of the body. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why chiropractic care can help slow down a degenerative condition like arthritis.
Either way, whether your lifestyle would benefit from medication, treatment, or a combination of the two, the most important thing you can do is get properly diagnosed with your unique type of arthritis so a treatment method tailored to you can be developed by trained physicians.
You may be wondering if there is anything you can do at home in between treatments or to supplement any pain relief medication you may be taking. There is! Just make sure to consult with your physicians before trying any of these to make sure they would benefit you most, and ask them for suggestions tailored to your condition as well.
Nonetheless, there are some common home remedies for arthritis pain that work well for many people. The first is, you guessed it, diet and exercise. As with almost any other disease out there, it can be avoided, or managed, with a healthy diet and regular exercise. In the case of arthritis especially, regular stretching and strength training can really help the body self-soothe the pain and inflammation that comes with arthritis. It doesn’t have to be anything intense, but keeping those areas of your body active with blood and internal nutrients circulating through them can make a massive difference in the severity of your condition.
In terms of diet, eating healthy is one of the best and most effective ways to lose weight, which can make a big impact on your arthritis, especially if it is concentrated in your spine, hips, or knees – anywhere in the lower body. This is because when you have a healthy body mass index, or a healthy weight for your height, it lessens the pressure on your joints to hold more weight than they should. This added pressure can make your arthritis symptoms worse, so there is a real reason to lose weight beyond the aesthetics here! Try adding foods with omega-3 fatty acids, plenty of fruits and vegetables, nuts, and other anti-inflammatory foods.
Other than that, if your symptoms are acting up at home and nothing seems to be helping, try a hot or cold compress on the area to reduce muscle pain or inflammation, respectively.
The best way to prevent arthritis starts early on in life. If you establish a healthy diet, regular exercise routine, and try to avoid joint injury, you’ll be on the right track to prevent extreme forms of arthritis. Unfortunately, depending on genetics, your environment, line of work, and other factors, you may still get the disease later on in life. It’s simply unavoidable for some. However, with these healthy lifestyle shifts and maintenance of that lifestyle well into late adulthood, the condition will not be nearly as severe, painful, or unmanageable as others. In these cases, simple chiropractic care and NSAIDs may be all you need to live the life you imagine for yourself in your elder years.
Dr. Brent Wells has been a trusted chiropractor since moving his family from Oregon to Alaska back in 1998 and founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab – B.S. from Univ. of Nevada, Doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College, volunteer for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Foundation, and member of the American Chiropractic Association. As a chiropractor his focus is on family, including his 3 children and wife of 20+ years, his clinics, and ongoing education.