Arthritis is a common and debilitating disease process that affects millions of people. Many here in the Nashville, TN area. There are several different types of arthritis, but the main two are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Also known as degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is the most common form. When the cartilage between your bones wears down it leaves the joints painful and unprotected, resulting in pain and inflammation. Osteoarthritis can strike any joint in the body, but is most commonly seen in the hips, knees, hands and spine. Osteoarthritis starts when joints are not properly mobile or are misaligned. Without proper movement, the joint cannot stay healthy and well lubricated. Just like placing a joint in a cast that prohibits movement, joints that are immobilized or misaligned due to injury or other factors will begin to develop arthritis, degenerating almost immediately.
In the spine, arthritis will occur if the vertebrae are subluxated or misaligned, resulting in back pain and limited mobility.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a disease process that causes inflammation and pain as the result of your immune system attacking normal, healthy joint tissues. Swelling, stiffness and lack of mobility are noted in these patients.
Chiropractic Treatment of Arthritis
Chiropractors regularly treat patients who have osteoarthritis and can successfully reduce the overall pain associated with the disease.
Your chiropractor will treat the root cause of the problem, finding the misaligned joints and gently maneuvering them into alignment through a series of gentle, pain free adjustments. While pain relief is a valuable benefit of chiropractic care, the adjustments will also keep the disease from progressively worsening.
Not only will a realigned joint have increased range of motion, the adjustments lessen the pressure within the central nervous system as well. The nervous system itself is only dedicated 10% to pain, while the other 90% is dedicated to maintaining the proper function of all organs, cells and tissues within the body. This means that while a patient may feel less pain and think they are cured, the aggressive nature of osteoarthritis will continue to damage the joints unless they are properly maintained for alignment and mobility.
Osteoarthritis causes more than simple pain; its effects on the nervous system mean that your body will be universally negatively impacted. When misalignment or subuxation affects the 24 vertebrae that protect the nervous system, it will cause limited mobility and the development of osteoarthritis. As the degeneration continues, spinal nerves will become irritated as pressure is placed on them from the progressing disease process. This affects not only your spine, causing localized pain, but also any other body part being supplied by the nerve.
Chiropractic treatment is a far cry from the bone snapping, joint popping techniques that are mistakenly associated with it. Instead, chiropractors are professionals in gentle manipulation; your session will feel more like a physical therapy session than a series of adjustments.
Chiropractors use techniques like deep tissue massage to relieve pain and stop painful muscle spasms or use a gentle traction technique to slowly help you regain your range of motion and realign your joints. Your chiropractor is familiar with over 150 different techniques that are used to adjust your muscles, joints and spine, each one with a specific use and different amounts of necessary force.
Chiropractors are experts on the relationship of function and structure. They believe that if something is out of alignment with a joint, it will not be able to work as it was designed to do. A chiropractor’s goal is to restore the maximum functional capability of these structures so the arthritic patient can enjoy life without pain.
Chiropractors use more than manipulation to get results for their arthritic patients. They have an arsenal of other tools, as well. Your chiropractor may choose to use:
- Electrotherapy: Electrical stimulation of the muscles and nerves, usually used in the treatment of soft tissue injuries. This therapy uses small electrical pulses and is completely pain free.
- Infrared Sauna: Like a day at the spa, this technique uses rooms with controlled heat settings to relieve inflammation and pain while increasing circulation. It’s like having a hot compress warm your sore joints from the inside out.
- Ultrasound: Ultrasound is more than just a technology used for imaging. These sound waves massage joints and soft tissues to decrease stiffness, swelling and pain.
- Cold Laser: This is a light or laser that uses no heat. When applied to the site of inflammation, it deeply penetrates the affected tissues to reduce swelling and pain.
A chiropractor will treat all the tissues surrounding your arthritic joint and reduce pain, even if he doesn’t adjust the joint at all. Chiropractors will also focus on joints that may be adversely affected by the arthritic one, such as someone with back pain who walks awkwardly and develops knee pain. He can adjust the joint causing the secondary pain, decreasing overall pain for that patient.
What can I Expect on My First Chiropractic Appointment?
The first thing your chiropractor will do is a consultation regarding a patient’s past medical history and lifestyle. After that is completed, he will perform a chiropractic assessment which can include a physical exam, x-rays if indicated, and neurological and orthopedic tests. The x-rays will tell your chiropractor if there is degeneration of the vertebral discs or between the joints, and will help his check for osteophytes, commonly known as bone spurs. He will then develop a personalized plan, specific to your individual needs and concerns.
Chiropractic care is the safest treatment for relief of osteoarthritic pain and stiffness of the neck or the back. After your evaluation, if the chiropractor sees indications that your arthritis is from an inflammatory disease such as ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriatic arthritis, his plan of care will be different than it would be for osteoarthritic issues; this is why the pre-treatment consultation is an important step in your treatment.
Chiropractic Treatment for Arthritis: Treating the Problem
Often, treatment plans for arthritis patients is just prescribing medications to mask the pain and swelling. Chiropractic treatment of arthritis is a whole-body approach that finds the root cause of the problems and corrects it, naturally and without medications. Chiropractic care of the arthritic patient is focused on regaining the range of motion and full functionality of the joints.
If you or someone you know is affected by arthritic pain, swelling and loss of mobility, contact a chiropractor for a consultation; it’s time to get your life back.