One of the most frequently misunderstood conditions among patients is arthritis. Often the word, “arthritis,” inspires images of a future that includes crippled and twisted joints. But, many conditions from benign to severe are listed under the term, arthritis. For our purposes, we will restrict this discourse to the most common forms of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis and Chiropractic Care
Osteoarthritis, degenerative arthritis, or degenerative joint disease (DJD) are the terms for the most common form of arthritis, which is also called spondylosis if it occurs in the spine. The condition is due to the deterioration of the cartilage that lines the joint surfaces, and it is found not only in humans but also in all mammals.
When joint cartilage is injured, the sensitive bone tissue that is usually protected by the cartilage becomes stressed causing degenerative changes in the joint. Occasionally, osteophytes, or bone spurs, can develop when the bone around the joint increases quickly. Bone spurs create painful irritation to other tissues around the joint complicating the already grievous condition.
Usually, the areas of the body that develop degenerative joints are in the spine, particularly in the lower neck and lower back, the knees, the hips, and the fingers. Everyone may experience DJD at one point in their lives, though previous trauma, one’s occupation, activities, weight, diet, and heredity influence the degree of the condition and its onset.
The symptoms of DJD always involve some degree of pain and/or stiffness in the body part involved. As the condition progresses there can be a loss of mobility, notably when weight-bearing joints such as hips or knees are implicated. In some cases, if the joint is appreciably worn and the person can no longer walk without severe pain, the joints are surgically replaced with synthetic devices. Of course, one should attempt to manage the condition early on in one’s life to avoid the need for surgery.
Prevention is invariably the best option, beginning at an early age.
- Making sure that all injuries to joints are properly treated will help to avoid future problems.
- Shoes with suitable support and shock absorption should be worn by those whose jobs demand extended periods of standing or walking.
- Excess body weight can produce increased stress upon the weight-bearing joints of the body.
- Care should be taken to cushion knees from strain and pain when kneeling on hard surfaces.
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables as they contain natural vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are essential for the health of the joints, as well as the rest of the body.
Recent studies have shown that long-term use of the nutritional supplement, Glucosamine, cannot only assist with DJD symptoms but may actually help to rebuild joint cartilage.
Chiropractic adjustments assist in restoring proper mobility and function to the spinal joints. Chiropractic care is not only a smart idea but extremely effective in relieving the debilitating pain of arthritis. In addition, chiropractic modalities such as joint mobilization, ultrasound, cold laser therapy, massage, and electro-therapy may be used to aid in the treatment of painful and stiff joints. Occasionally, a brace is required to support the joint and relieve pain. A chiropractor may suggest exercises such as stretching, yoga, tai chi and other gentle mobilizing activities to help maintain arthritic joints.
Gouty arthritis is generated by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood and the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints. Generally, gouty arthritis is characterized by intense pain and swelling of the joints in the big toes, knees, ankles, and wrists. A large number of people who develop gout are predisposed through heredity, though episodes are more often than not brought on by binge eating of inflammatory foods, when dehydrated or fasting, or after a major surgery or illness.
Certain foods such as red meat (especially organ meat), certain seafood, legumes, and mushrooms include the natural substance, Purines, that are metabolized in the liver to form uric acid. Since individuals with gout cannot properly metabolize uric acid, the buildup in the bloodstream produces joint problems. In addition to the foods specified and additional foods containing Purines, other dietary restrictions need to be followed including the avoidance of alcohol.
Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease, is systemic in nature and thought to be created by immune system dysfunction. The most common joints affected are the small joints of the hands and fingers, the feet, knees, and shoulder, although other areas of the body can be affected as well. The condition is generally associated with morning stiffness that is aggravated by motion.
Other symptoms can involve general malaise and fatigue, and in its more advanced stages, other systems of the body may be affected. There are definitive blood tests to help identify Rheumatoid arthritis that can be easily run.
Management includes medication and vitamin and diet therapy, as well as chiropractic adjustments. In addition, joint mobilization and modalities such as ultrasound, heat, electro-therapy, and massage can help with the pain and stiffness associated the condition.
Dr. Scott Stiffey is dedicated to assisting people in getting relief from the pain and suffering associated with arthritis. Give us a call today at 573-769-2400 in Palmyra, (573) 607-2727 in Columbia, or fill out the form below to find relief today!
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