Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Can Chiropractic Help with Arthritis?


Arthritis can affect our joints and can leave us feeling stiff, achy, and sore. In a 2013 report, The Arthritis Society of Canada reports that 16.6% of the adult population had arthritis. Arthritis affects more women than men and 56% of people with arthritis are under 65 years of age. Many people associate arthritis with “getting old”. What you may not be aware of is that, several forms of arthritis exist and can affect different age groups and populations.



The two most common forms of arthritis are rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.



Osteoarthritis (also called degenerative joint disease) is the most common form. It usually develops overtime from wear and tear placed on our bodies. After a while, with repetitive damage, the cartilage on the ends of our bones gets thinned and our bones can feel like they are rubbing together. Osteoarthritis most often affects weight-bearing joints such as knees, low back, neck, and shoulders (but can be found in most other joints as well).



Unlike Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that can affect both young and old. RA occurs when the body thinks the fluid within our joint capsules is a threat/foreign intruder. The body then “attacks” its own synovial fluid and causes damage along with swelling within and around the joints. Unlike Osteoarthritis, RA first affects smaller joints (like our fingers and toes) and can occur in both sides of the body concurrently. Furthermore, the swollen joints often feel warm and red to touch.



Its important to realize that with age, most people will have some radiological signs of osteoarthritis. Although it may “appear” you have arthritis on an x-ray, this does not necessarily mean your pain is coming from the changes that are visualized on a film. For this reason, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis of why you have pain. In the end, it may not be the arthritis that is causing you pain. Poor posture, sitting at your desk all day, inactivity, old unhealed injuries, and repetitive strain injuries are all things that could be causing you pain, yet labeled as “arthritis”.



So what can you do if you have arthritis? Arthritis is not reversible but your pain is. Furthermore, you can prevent arthritis from getting worse.  One of the most important things you can do is get your joints moving! Exercise helps maintain healthy and strong muscles, joint mobility, flexibility, endurance, and helps control weight. Although exercise is important, getting adequate rest is also crucial. Our tissues need time to regenerate and repair. Also, rest helps to deactivate joint inflammation.



How can your chiropractor help? Chiropractic adjustments can help maintain movement within each joint to keep the synovial fluid lubricated and the joint moving at its best. Whether it is your back, neck, knee or shoulder, there are chiropractic techniques that may help. Furthermore, acupuncture has been shown to decrease pain associated with arthritis and increase tissue healing. Do not hesitate to contact a local chiropractor for more information about how it may help you.


Dr Stacia Kelly

Sources:



The Arthritis Society of Canada




Arthritis Alliance of Canada



American Chiropractic Association
 http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=62

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