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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Midy

The role of chiropractic care in managing arthritis

Like with everything we must start at the beginning. By definition, Arthritis is a general term, derived from the Greek words arthro-, meaning “joint,” and -itis, meaning “inflammation

Joint inflammation is a symptom or sign rather than a specific diagnosis, the term arthritis is often used to refer to any disorder that affects the joints.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are more than 100 different forms of arthritis and related diseases. The most common types include osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), fibromyalgia and gout. Arthritis and related diseases can cause debilitating, life-changing pain in different ways. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of the adults who have arthritis report that it limits their leisure activities and work and 25% of them say it causes severe pain (seven or higher on a scale of zero to 10).

In rheumatoid arthritis (RA) , psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and Lupus the immune system attacks the body making them autoimmune inflammatory diseases. Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis, but it does not cause body-wide inflammation like RA or PsA does. In gout, high levels of uric acid are the problem.

This leaves osteoarthritis (OA), a degenerative disease that affects the whole joint, the protective cartilage and fluid break down over time, making joint movement difficult and painful.

To many people osteoarthritis may seem age related. In other words, it may be common to have arthritis when you hit a certain age, but it is not normal to have arthritis. Our bodies are expertly made to be able to withstand the stresses of life placed on our structure. As long as we take care of our joints, they should be able to last your lifetime.

Our bodies are designed to move in certain ways to absorb the multiple ranges of motions we place on them. In between each joint is the articular cartilage. This cartilage is a soft cushion to prevents the bones from scrubbing together and getting damaged. Think of it as a thin piece of bubble wrap. Arthritis happens because this protective surface becomes thinned and damaged.

Wearing away or deterioration of articular cartilage leads to narrowing of the joint space and the scrubbing together of the bones. I’m sure we have all heard the phrase, “bone on bone”. This happens because the protective cartilage between the bones has been worn down and now, they are rubbing together. That is not the way our bones are designed to function and to counterbalance this the brain says, “more fluid needs to be pumped into the joint to keep it lubricated.” Remember the tin man in the Wizard of Oz? Your body is screaming to your brain, “Oil can, oil can. To accommodate the brain says fine here comes some fluid. Hence the swelling.

Risk factors for cartilage loss in osteoarthritis are related either to the adverse effects of trauma or overloading of joints which result in abnormal biomechanics and malignment.

Whenever our joints become injured, even if the injuries are on a microscopic scale, the body initiates an immune response to heal the damage. The first stages of this immune response involve inflammation. In the short term, there’s nothing wrong with inflammation; it helps your body heal. When an inflammatory reaction repeatedly occurs or stays at a low level constantly, it can cause damage. Inflammation is one of the primary causes of osteoarthritis and joint degeneration.

A joint may be damaged over time because it’s out of alignment, or because of the way you sit, stand, or walk. Chiropractic care can fix those issues, which may keep your arthritis from getting worse. But it can’t restore cartilage that’s already lost. Chiropractic treatments are best utilized to address the cause of osteoarthritis and the prevention.

Chiropractors might be best known for making spinal adjustments, but they can make extremity joint adjustments too. Studies show that chiropractic care is an effective way to treat joint pain and reduce inflammation in people with arthritis. Chiropractic will focus on realigning the parts of the body that have been impacted by arthritic pain and relieve the tension that has built up over time. Some of the benefits of chiropractic treatments for arthritis include:

  • Reduced inflammation throughout the body caused by arthritis.

  • Improved ability to move and better joint flexibility.

  • Reduced pain across affected areas and reduced referred pain in other parts of the body.

  • A better quality of life and ability to perform physical tasks.

In our clinical practice, we find that many patients are unaware of the connection between bad posture and arthritis. Slouching at your desk every day could be even worse for you than you think. Luckily, this is a treatable and preventable condition. When bad posture occurs regularly, your body struggles to repair this strain. The effect is like what would happen if you worked out the same muscle group every day. You’d be sore, tired and those muscles wouldn’t be able to build strength. That’s right: your poor posture now could equal arthritis later.

Chances are, if you are reading this article that you are aware of your posture problems and already suffering some of the consequences. You may feel that it’s difficult to get your shoulders to roll back, or your neck may be stiff and sore all the time. At Graybar Chiropractic and Rehab, we provide spinal adjustment, corrective exercises, spinal decompression, and lifestyle coaching to help heal the damage caused by bad posture and prevent it from recurring. In addition to providing in-office treatment we will also give you at-home exercises that will help you heal faster. Our state-of-the-art treatments, like cold laser therapy, (in our Wallace and Wilmington locations), encourage healing in soft tissues, while we work to correct structural problems.

With proper treatment, you can correct your posture and avoid long-term consequences like arthritis.

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