Arthritis is a very broad term which can encompass several different things. It is commonly referred to as “inflammation of one or more joints”, but in actuality, arthritis is a term that covers over 100 medical conditions. Osteoarthritis (or OA for short) is the most common form of arthritis that usually affects elderly patients, but younger patients can suffer from it as well. It is a joint disease caused by wear and tear of the joints.
Arthritis symptoms can include swollen, stiff and painful joints. Healthy cartilage which is the firm, rubbery tissue that cushions bones at joints, allows bones to glide over one another and absorbs energy from this movement. In OA, this cartilage breaks down and wears away. As a result, the bones rub together causing irritation in the area which leads to pain, swelling, and stiffness. Most of the time arthritis limits the range of motion in affected joints. Some of the most common sites for it to develop are in the spine, hips, knees, feet and hands.
Arthritis is seen in both men and women. Arthritis, especially OA, is a common condition, especially as a person grows older. Symptoms tend to surface when people are in their 50s and 60s, although an injury to a joint or overuse, can cause arthritis when you are younger.
Many of our patients find that chiropractic care can have a positive impact on providing arthritis relief. These chiropractic adjustments can help restore normal joint alignment which will improve joint function. If a joint is functioning better this will reduce further wear and tear, and slow down the degenerative process. A better functioning joint also means a less painful joint, and generally swelling and stiffness will be reduced.
In addition, we provide various forms of therapy that will help reduce the pain, swelling and stiffness associated with arthritis. One such therapy is interferential stimulation, which is a form of electrical muscle stimulation. The current produced is excellent at reducing pain and also speeds up the natural healing process of the soft tissues. Another therapy we use is ultrasound which sends sound waves deep into the tissues and joints and helps to reduce inflammation.
Proper body mechanics can also help relieve stress on arthritic joints. Maintaining proper posture is essential to proper body mechanics. It is important for a person, whether standing or sitting, to keep their ears above their shoulders, and their shoulders above their hips. Poor posture leads to extra stress on joints that can accelerate the degenerative process.
Finally, the most important thing a person can do for arthritis is daily stretching, which keeps the joints mobile and the muscles flexible. The basic idea here is, “If you don’t move it, you’ll lose it”.