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Can chiropractic care help with arthritis?
There are two different conditions known as "arthritis". By definition, "arthritis" is inflammation of the joints. But, there are actually two kinds of "arthritis". First, there's osteoarthritis, sometimes referred to as "wear and tear" arthritis. This includes DJD or Degenerative Disc Disease. Then, there are several variations of rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis or "wear and tear arthritis" is just that, a sort of wearing away of the joint. It typically shows up as we age OR after years of excessive use or wear on a joint. Many people tell me "The orthopedist told me the disc in my neck or low back is worn down because of my age." My response is "Well, how old are the other discs in your spine?"
DJD or osteoarthritis of the spine, is usually caused by bones in the spine that are have poor movement patterns or postural distortions. The discs wear away and your body tries to stabilize the area. On x-ray, this reaction looks like little bone spurs. It's actually the body trying to fuse these vertebrae in order to protect you. Usually, the problem isn't noticed until the disc is about gone and the spurs (or osteophytes) start to press on nerves, causing pain.
The standard medical approach to "wear and tear" arthritis is self-medication with over-the-counter painkillers and NSAIDS, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Tylenol, Advil, etc. if not resolved, you can end up on steroids or prescription painkillers that can lead to addiction. The eventual medical solution is surgery, sometimes very risky surgery with long-term consequences.
The other type of arthritis, called rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory autoimmune condition that causes pain, swelling and disfiguration, usually easily seen in the hands. As with most autoimmune conditions, the cause is unknown. Yet, treatments start with over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, then prescription painkillers, then immunosuppressant drugs. The mandatory warnings on these drugs warn you of infection, disease and even death.
There are many ways chiropractic helps those with arthritis. If you do indeed have spinal misalignments referred to as subluxations, this can cause the discs to wear down more quickly. Chiropractors are tained to detect and correct those misalignments with gentle, specific adjustments. As your body stays in its proper alignment, not only is pressure taken of the nerves, but the proper motion between the spinal bones is restored. This reduces your bodies need to lay down new bone to stabilize your spine. When that happens, your symptoms are reduced and your quality of life improves. If you maintain that proper alignmemnt, you become stronger and help keep them from coming back.
The other way chiropractic helps is neurological. Anyone that has ever suffered from an autoimmune disease knows that it's made worse by stress. Chiropractic adjustments help take stress off your nervous system allowing your body to rest, relax and heal. By taking stress off your nervous system, your body functions better. When your body is restored to proper function, healing and health happens naturally.