How can chiropractic care help Arthritis?
First of all, let’s talk about the different types of arthritis, sometimes referred to as rheumatism in the UK:
1. There is the most common kind of arthritis that GPs often refer to and what you hear about on TV, osteoarthritis. Basically, this is wear and tear (stress) of the joints that happens over time, eventually causing stiffness in movement. Osteoarthritis tends to be more common as you get older but this is not necessarily the case.
2. Then there is the disease kind of arthritis where the body attacks itself and wears away the joint, for example, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthrtis.
This article will now focus on the more preventable kind of arthritis, osteoarthritis.
OA, or osteoarthritis, forms when joints don’t move properly, which then starts to cause wear and tear. Unless the problem is rectified at an early stage, the wear and tear continues and worsens over time causing more and more damage to the joint.
Regular chiropractic care is a great way to help to make sure that all of your joints are properly aligned and moving correctly. It can help to prevent excessive wear and tear of the joints by reducing joint inflammation and swelling; this, in turn, can help to reduce pain.
Think of your joints like the tyres on a car, if they are all correctly aligned, the tyres will last a long time as the car’s weight is evenly distributed throughout all four tyres. As you probably know from experience, when the alignment of the tyres is out, you will find that perhaps they wear quicker than they should, or perhaps one tyre wears more quickly than the others, and they need to be replaced more quickly. The same principle applies to the joints in your back / spinal column and extremety joints, for example knee and hand joints.
Chiropractic care means that you do not have to give up that active lifestyle that you love and can significantly reduce your reliance on medication to manage your pain. Like most things, however, early intervention will provide the best health outcomes.
I have taken many x-rays of patients during my career as a chiropractor and 4 cases, in particular, stand out to me:
1. A 25 year old male patient that had significant wear and tear in his neck joints, which was unusual for someone of his age. It transpired that he test drove go-carts as part of his job. As a consequence his neck suffered lots of knocks with the bashing around of the go-carts, leading to the rapid erosion of the joints in his neck. His x-rays looked like those of a 70 year old.
2. A 70 year old woman with a neck x-ray of a 25 year old. She put this down to regular exercise and a healthy diet.
3. An x-ray of a woman in her 50s who had been a heavy smoker for a long time. There was barely any moisture between her spinal discs and the joints were very arthritic.
4. A 21 year old patient with rods and screws in their back to correct a herniated disc bulge.
I treated all of these patients and helped them to feel and function better and improve their mobility. Naturally those patients with healthier spines had significantly better outcomes, which is why I also advocate:
Regular exercise, including strengthening of core muscles, to protect your back. Gentle yoga and swimming are great for your joints.
A healthy balanced diet to feed and strengthen your spinal column and joints, see Nourish your Spine.
Abstaining from smoking – please see study shows that smokers twice as likely to suffer back pain.
Which of these patients would you like your spine to be like?
For further information on arthritis and how a Chiropractor can help you to improve your symptoms, please see link.
Dietary supplements to prevent/control arthritis
Please see link to NHS Living with Arthritis for further information on supplements that can help to alleviate symptoms of arthritis.