Can Chiropractic Help Arthritis?
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is an inflammatory disease that is characterized by the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints in the body. The main symptoms are usually stiffness and pain in the joints and the inflammation usually affects the tissues, ligaments, muscles, and connective tissues around a joint.
Usually, arthritis is more common the older you are, and there are multiple types of arthritis all involving slightly different symptoms. The symptoms common to all types of arthritis, however, are pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced range of motion in the affected joint.
Types of Arthritis:
The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, while other forms include but are not limited to psoriatic arthritis, gout, lupus, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Commonly known as degenerative joint disease, this arthritis affects a whole joint and is caused by the breaking down of the protective cartilage and fluid of the joint over time making movement more difficult and painful. When the degeneration gets to the point of the bones rubbing directly against each other, it can cause more severe pain. This form most commonly affects knees, hips, hands, and the spine.
This form of arthritis is caused by a disfunction with the body’s immune system which causes it to the body’s own joints and other organs as opposed to targeting the viruses, and bacteria that the immune system is supposed to protect us from. This dysfunction causes a breakdown of healthy tissue which can lead to inflammation in the lining of the joints and can over time cause permanent damage and worsening pain. This form commonly affects the knees or hands on both sides of the body at a time, but it can also affect internal organs.
This is another autoimmune disease form of arthritis, however, this type of arthritis does not just attack the joints, but it attacks the skin as well resulting in psoriasis. Characterized by red or silver scaly skin patches and pitted nails, it usually also attacks the areas where tendons or ligaments attach to the bone.
Gout is another form of inflammatory arthritis, but it is not caused by the immune system, it is caused by a high build up of uric acid in the body. When the body produces too much uric acid or it is unable to remove uric acid from the body fast enough, the acid can build up in the blood and form crystals in the joints causing very painful inflammation and joint pain.
Juvenille Idiopathic Arthritis
This type of arthritis is similar to Rheumatoid arthritis, that is more common in children. This form can affect more than joints, but can infect internal organs and even the eyes. The inflammation and joint pain is a result of the body’s own immune system attacking the cells and tissues of the body itself.
How does Chiropractic Care Help Arthritis symptoms?
Chiropractic adjustments are a non invasive, effective treatment for arthritis symptoms. Chiropractors seek the areas in the body that are fixated in misalignment and help restore good healthy motion to the joint. Those misalignments place tension on the nerves of the spinal cord and nervous system overall, and by relieving that pressure on the nerve, the chiropractic adjustment is able to restore healthy nervous system communication to the entire body. This healthier motion and better communication does not just impact the spine, but can help better the functioning of other joints that are affected by arthritis. The nervous system communication also helps boost the immune system which can help reduce active swelling around an arthritic joint.
Chiropractic adjustments can help arthritis patients find relief for their neck pain, acute thoracic pain, and help boost their overall joint health.
Some chiropractors will perform complementary therapies such as manual massage of the soft tissues, low level laser, or ultrasound (sound waves) to treat soft tissue injuries that can arise with arthritis. Sometimes a primary care doctor will recommend chiropractic care alongside physical therapy or manual therapy to help provide relief.
Is Chiropractic Care Safe for Arthritis?
Chiropractic care is one of the safest therapies and treatments for arthritis pain. In 2017, the American College of Physicians expressed their support of nonpharmacologic therapies and treatments such as chiropractic being the the first-line treatments for low back pain before using medication. And several other journals have posted studies showing that chiropractic is beneficial for joint pain.
What Kinds of Arthritis can Chiropractic treatment help?
Chiropractic care can be done on anyone who has any type of arthritis. There may be some modifications done for each individual person and case so as to help the patient feel comfortable and keep their body safe and healthy. Chiropractic adjustments can be performed even during an arthritic flare causing acute pain. Gentle adjustments can be used to help relieve pain and help the body function healthily even with arthritis.
What should I expect at my Chiropractic Appointment?
Before any treatment is performed, a chiropractor will take a full medical history, do a thorough examination and take x-rays to help inform them in developing the perfect treatment approach for your case.
After going over the treatment plan with you, the chiropractor will explain what adjustments will look like for you and your case, and then perform the specific spinal manipulation adjustment that your body needs. They may not adjust the specific joint that has arthritis, but can provide help and relief to the surrounding joints which are having to compensate for the affected area. Chiropractors focus on helping the spine and the surrounding tissues function at the top of their capacity, thus helping the immune system function better and helping improve your body’s overall health. They may, if needed, adjust the affected area of a joint such as the elbow or knee to help reduce inflammation, but by restoring healthy nerve communication to the body, the other symptoms of arthritis are often improved as well.