It is estimated that over 40 million people in the U.S. cope with arthritis. In some cases, the condition is minor. In other cases, it is severe and even debilitating. Many adults afflicted with an advanced form of the disorder are essentially disabled.
In the past, medical doctors were largely at a loss for how to treat arthritis. Even today, most forms of medical treatment are focused on relieving symptoms rather than eliminating the catalyst. Measures may include medications (e.g. Tylenol, Vicodin, etc.), ointments, drugs to suppress the immune system, and even joint replacement. There is another option that has grown in popularity: chiropractic therapy.
Below, we’ll start by examining the main types of arthritis from which most people suffer. We’ll then explain how chiropractors approach treatment and describe how they can help alleviate pain in your joints. Lastly, we’ll take a look at other therapies recommended by chiropractors that can produce dramatic improvement in comfort and joint function.
Different Types Of Arthritis
Arthritis can be broadly defined as pain in the joints. This pain can occur for different reasons. The most common forms of the disease are rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis. With RA, pain is triggered by inflammation in the joints. This inflammation is caused by the immune system, which becomes overactive and attacks the joints and surrounding tissues. The disease is chronic, and thus persists throughout the remainder of the patient’s life.
Osteoarthritis is characterized by a deterioration in the cartilage that lies between the joints. This cartilage is made mostly of protein. It acts as a buffer that prevents joints from rubbing against each other. When it breaks down, the bones rub together and cause pain.
How A Trained Chiropractor Can Help
It’s important to understand the principles by which a chiropractor works. Chiropractic care deals primarily with the transmission of nerve messages. These messages travel along the spinal cord on their way to and from the brain. Normally, they leave the spinal cord through small passages, and branch throughout the body. When a vertebra becomes subluxated (or, misaligned), however, the transmission is interrupted. This leads to an assortment of physical problems.
Chiropractors focus on resolving vertebral subluxations. By aligning the spine, they can restore the transmission of nerve messages, and thus improve the patient’s comfort and health. A form of this strategy can be used to treat arthritis.
Joint Pain Relief Through Chiropractic Therapy
In the same way chiropractors address misaligned vertebrae, they can also align joints that have become subluxated. This often occurs with osteoarthritis. The bones move out of alignment, which accelerates the deterioration of the cartilage cushion. This in turn allows the bones to rub together more frequently, causing additional pain.
A chiropractor can reposition the subluxated joints. This will reduce the pace at which cartilage breaks down, resulting in less pain, increased joint function, and a deceleration of the disease’s advance.
Related Chiropractic Therapies That May Prove Effective
Your chiropractor will likely recommend supplemental therapies, especially for cases of rheumatoid arthritis. These include regular exercise, which is critical for increasing muscle support for the joints, and maintaining their mobility and flexibility. It may also involve electrical muscle stimulation to further increase support.
Chiropractors also recommend nutritional therapy. This is targeted at helping the patient manage his or her weight to alleviate undue stress on the affected joints. Certain foods (e.g. salmon, halibut, and others) are rich sources of fatty-acid supplements, which are useful for reducing swelling and inflammation. This is particularly helpful for those who suffer from RA.
Both common forms of the disease – rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis – can eventually become incapacitating. The main purpose of chiropractic care is to design a treatment plan that helps reduce pain and increase the patient’s range of motion within his or her joints. While a cure lies beyond the scope of medicine, chiropractic treatment can slow the advance of the disease and improve the patient’s quality of life.