Types of Arthritis
Patients suffering from arthritis have pain and difficulty in affected areas while performing normal, daily tasks. While medical science has provided many types of prescription medications, practitioners of chiropractic care are able to offer those with arthritis alternative or complementary care which will be safer and come with none of the side effects brought on by traditional medical care treatments. Inflammation that is located at the point where two bones meet, the joints, is known as arthritis. Cartilage, which protects all joints in the body, is broken down with the onset of arthritis. Without cartilage, the bones begin to rub together. Over time, the friction causes swelling and stiffness to occur in these joints.
There are, in fact, actually about 100 kinds of arthritis caused by a variety of factors. These include: broken bones, wear-and-tear of the joints, bacterial or viral infections, and autoimmune disorders, where the body unnaturally attacks itself. Some arthritis goes away on its own, while other types are chronic. The most common variety of this ailment is osteoarthritis. Other kinds of arthritis include gonococcal, ankylosing spondylitis, gout, psoriatic, rheumatoid (in children or adults), scleroderma, and lupus. Severe complications often arise beyond limited movement and pain, which are already very problematic effects of arthritis. In some severe cases when the ailment is left untreated for too long, patients may end up with deformity in the affected joints.1
Conservative Treatment Options
Most arthritic patients cannot expect a cure; however, there are more conservative treatment options that do not involve medications and their potential side effects. Those with arthritis can make lifestyle changes, such as including range-of-motion, low-impact aerobics, and strength exercises into their routine. They should avoid repetitive motions. For more serious cases, physical therapy, with heat/ice, splints, orthotics, water therapy, and massage may be helpful. Getting enough sleep, avoiding stressful positions, installing assistance devices in the home, reducing stress (e.g. through the practice of yoga, aromatherapy, and meditation both at home and in a professional or class setting), and using capsaicin cream on the inflamed joints can also benefit those with this disease.
Dietary changes are also recommended, including weight loss and eating omega-3 fatty acid foods, such as flaxseed, soybeans, broccoli, garlic, turmeric and walnuts. Antioxidant foods that contain vitamin C has been found by some research to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Food will not cure arthritis, but they could fight inflammation, strengthen bones, and boost the immune system, complementing the care that patients pursue.
When these treatments do not provide enough relief, doctors may prescribe medications such as non-aspirin (acetaminophen), NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen), biologic drugs, corticosteroids, DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs), or immunosuppressants. All medications carry side effects, and some can be severe and cause long-term issues.
If the prescriptions do not work to counteract the pain and effects of the arthritis enough, doctors may try more dramatic and permanent treatments, including surgery. Arthroplasty is used to rebuild the joint, and some patients might receive joint replacement. Surgery is a very serious and permanent method of treatment, and complications might arise from its use. The patient should try to exhaust all other forms of care and treatment before turning to surgery for a solution. If nothing else works, long-term chronic pain and disability, both in the joints and other areas of the body, may be the result of untreated arthritis.2
Patients may have developed their arthritis as a result of misalignments of the bones. Rheumatoid arthritis can damage even the smallest of joints. Chiropractors have the ability to safely manipulate the spine to help patients get relief.3 In fact, a recent study found that “63% of people who visited a rheumatologist for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia (reported that)… Chiropractic (was the complementary and alternative medicine) found to be most helpful for these conditions.”4
A chiropractor might also recommend the additional, complementary treatment of massage therapy. Massage is a term that covers a wide variety of techniques, many of which might help treat a patient’s arthritis through reduction of pain and stiffness, easing anxiety, improving range-of-motion, promoting sleep that is more restful, and creating a relaxing environment for a patient in a stressful situation. Swedish massage is the most common style, though other styles may be utilized by the massage therapist depending on the situation.5
Chiropractors will also tend to recommend stretching, strengthening, and endurance exercises. They may suggest fatty-acid supplements and dietary recommendations, as well as turmeric, ginger extract, nettle leaf extract, and a “vegetarian or low-allergen diet”. Patients should also find out about any previously unknown allergies to reduce stress on their bodies. The goal of these dietary changes is to avoid foods that cause inflammation, which may create issues and sensitivity beyond just the stomach. Chiropractors can be very helpful in restoring range-of-motion, improving flexibility, and increasing strength and muscle tone. The treatment of chiropractic care is most effective when the patient is compliant both in the office and in lifestyle changes and prescribed exercises at home, in between visits.6
1, 2 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002223/
Find out more about rheumatoid arthritis headaches.