One of the most frequently misunderstood conditions among people is arthritis..Often the word, “arthritis,” produces fear of a future that includes crippled and twisted joints. However “arthritis” is a very general word that encompasses many different conditions from the benign to the severe. For our purposes we will limit this analysis to the most common forms of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis and Chiropractic Care
The most common form of arthritis has many labels: osteoarthritis, degenerative arthritis, degenerative joint disease (DJD), and spondylosis if it is in the spine. This form of arthritis is not limited to humans, but occurs in all mammals, and is due to the breakdown of the cartilage that covers the joint surfaces. When joint cartilage is injured, the sensitive bone tissue that is normally preserved by the cartilage becomes stressed causing degenerative changes in the joint. Sometimes the bone around the joint will proliferate and make osteophytes, or what are more commonly called bone spurs. These spurs can produce painful irritation to other tissues surrounding the joint, in this way complicating the already distressing condition.
Degenerative joints most often occur in the lower neck and lower back, the knees, hips, and fingers. Previous trauma, certain occupations and activities, weight, diet, and heredity all appear to influence both the onset and severity of DJD.
The symptoms of DJD invariably involve some degree of pain and/or stiffness in the body part involved. If the weight-bearing joints, such as the hips or knees are involved, ones mobility can be affected especially in the more advanced stages of the condition. As a last resort joints can be surgically replaced with synthetic devices. This should be done only in severe cases where the joint is measurably worn and movement is impossible without severe pain.
Prevention is always the best option, beginning at an early age.
- Making sure that all injuries to joints are appropriately treated will help to avoid future problems.
- Shoes with proper support and shock absorption should be worn by those whose jobs necessitate extended periods of standing or walking.
- Excess body weight can cause increased stress upon the weight bearing joints of the body.
- Avoid kneeling on hard surfaces, such as when doing housework, as this can put strain and create knee pain.
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables as they include 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, can not only assist with DJD symptoms, but might help to rebuild joint cartilage.
Chiropractic adjustments assist in restoring proper mobility and function to the spinal joints. Chiropractic care is not only safe, but extremely effective in relieving the debilitating pain of arthritis. Your Chicago chiropractor is highly skilled when it comes to arthritic pain relief. Other forms of chiropractic care may include joint mobilization, massage, ultrasound, cold laser, or electro-therapy, all of which may be helpful in the relief of painful and stiff joints. Occasionally, a brace is necessary 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 acute pain and swelling of the joints in the big toes, knees, ankles and wrists. Most people who develop gout are predisposed through heredity, though episodes are usually 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 contain the natural substance, Purines, that are metabolized in the liver to form uric acid. Since individuals with gout cannot efficiently metabolize uric acid, the accumulation in the bloodstream creates joint problems. In addition to the foods mentioned and additional foods containing Purines, other dietary restrictions must be followed including the avoidance of alcohol.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease of systemic origin. The principal cause is not known, but it is thought to be associated with a problem with the immune system. 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 most often associated with morning stiffness that is aggravated by motion. Further symptoms can include general malaise and fatigue, and in its more advanced stages other systems of the body may be affected. There are specific blood tests to help identify Rheumatoid arthritis that can be easily run. Management includes medication and vitamin and diet therapy, as well as chiropractic manipulations. In addition, joint mobilization and modalities such as ultrasound, heat, electro-therapy and massage can help with the pain and stiffness associated the condition. Your Chicago chiropractor is dedicated to supporting people in getting relief from the pain and suffering associated with arthritis.