Does Chiropractic Care Really Work For Arthritis Pain?

Chiropractic care: the philosophy behind it is simple and intuitive. When proper function is restored to your body, the body can then heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery. Imagine being able to enjoy life again, without medication. What’s the “secret” behind chiropractic care?

There’s really no secret; chiropractic care focuses on your unique aches and pains, your body, and seeks to restore optimal performance. Just like a zipper that’s off its track, if the structure of a joint isn’t right, then it won’t be able to work as designed. Take arthritis as an example. When arthritis strikes, your joints are inflamed and/or out of alignment and cannot work optimally. Chiropractic care seeks to maximize joint function by restoring alignment and reducing the cause of your inflammation. 

Which Types of Arthritis See Results From Chiropractic Care?

If your arthritis pain and stiffness is due to osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative arthritis, the most common type of arthritis) studies show that chiropractic care is one of the safest and most effective therapies available. What’s key to treating osteoarthritis, is building strength, improving posture, and increasing range of motion. Thus, your treatment plan may include gentle pressure on your soft tissue to stop muscle spasms and ease tenderness, allowing you to move your joints more freely. Exercises to gradually stretch out your joints and increase your range of motion are also frequently used. Many patients find their chiropractic visits sometimes feel akin to a very hands-on version of physical therapy.

On the other hand, if your arthritis is due to an inflammatory disease, like rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis, treatment will vary as this type of arthritis is very different. The pain and disability that often come with rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis are due to inflammation in the joints, rather than the result of vertebrae that are out of alignment. If your joint swelling isn’t under control, a chiropractic adjustment may not be the most effective option and other treatments will be recommended. Your first visit will include a detailed medical history and physical exam to determine which approaches are best for you. 

Alternative Therapies for Arthritis

While your most-inflamed joints might end up being “off-limits” for traditional chiropractic adjustments, several other chiropractic adjunctive therapies can help. By treating surrounding tissues, it can significantly reduce swelling and provide relief for arthritis pain. For example, if swollen knee joints make it difficult to walk, you may experience secondary pain in the lower back. To treat, we won’t touch the knee; rather a pelvic adjustment may be effective in reducing overall pain in your back and legs.

Some of the more common therapies include: 

Ultrasound. This isn’t the kind of ultrasound that produces pictures. When applied to soft tissues and joints, sound waves create a massaging effect that helps reduce swelling and decreases both arthritis pain and stiffness.

Electrotherapy. These tiny, pain-free electric pulses treat soft tissue injuries when they stimulate the nerves and muscles.

Low-level laser or “cold laser.” A non-heat-producing laser or light that penetrates deep into the tissue and can reduce inflammation.

What To Expect At Your First Appointment

Your first appointment is about getting to know you, your health history, and creating a plan to provide immediate relief while setting goals for the future. Your holistic, customized treatment plan can include therapeutic treatment, maintenance care, exercise, activity modification, and chiropractic adjustments.

A common myth about chiropractic care is that it’s all about cracking a patient’s back or involves a series of painful adjustments. Nothing could be further from the truth; today’s chiropractic care is often much more gentle than many new patients expect. In fact, there are over 150 chiropractic techniques to adjust the joints, spine and other muscles, all developed to restore function naturally and provide lasting relief without the use of medications. Still not convinced? The American College of Physicians released brand-new guidelines supporting the use of chiropractic and acupuncture as first-line treatments for low back pain, before prescribing medication. And, a 2017 review in the Journal of the American Medical Association also found that spinal manipulation (another word for chiropractic adjustment) was effective in reducing lower back pain.

The bottom line: don’t accept arthritis pain as a fact of life. Schedule an appointment online to discuss your symptoms and explore your treatment options. What you learn (and experience) might surprise you.

The information in this article is for informational purposes only. Come into our office for diagnosis and treatment of your specific condition.

4 Common Types of Arthritis (And The Best Treatment For Each)

If you think you may be suffering from arthritis, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, it’s the leading cause of disability in the U.S., with 54 million adults and 300,000 babies and children living with arthritis of some kind. Just what is arthritis, what causes it and what are the best ways to manage the pain and discomfort?

Understanding Arthritis

Arthritis isn’t actually a name for a single disease. Instead, it’s become a colloquial way to describe joint pain. There are over 100 types of arthritis and related medical conditions, and while it’s most common among women and strikes more frequently as people age, anyone can be diagnosed with arthritis.

Joint swelling, pain, stiffness and a decreased range of motion are the most common symptoms of arthritis and they show up differently for each patient. The symptoms may be mild, debilitating, or fall somewhere in between. Sometimes these symptoms seem to clear up for a while; other times, they just keep getting worse. 

Severe arthritis often results in chronic pain and an inability to perform routine activities, like walking or climbing stairs. Permanent changes to your joints may be visible to the naked eye but usually only seen via x-ray. 

The Most Common Types of Arthritis

Degenerative Arthritis

Also known as osteoarthritis, degenerative arthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Degenerative arthritis occurs when the cartilage gradually disintegrates, causing your bones to rub against each other, and resulting in joint stiffness, pain, and swelling. The pain may become chronic as time goes by and the joints continue to lose strength. Some patients will eventually require a joint replacement.

Risk factors include being overweight, a history of degenerative arthritis in your family, your age, and previous injuries such as a torn ACL.

Adjusting your lifestyle may reduce the risks or delay the onset of degenerative arthritis. Preventative recommendations include:

  • Making time for both rest and regular physical activity.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Strengthening your muscles around the joint to provide more support.

Inflammatory Arthritis

The immune system is supposed to keep the body safe from disease, but sometimes it can mistakenly attack something in your system that’s not dangerous at all. With inflammatory arthritis (also known as rheumatoid arthritis), the immune system attacks the joints, resulting in joint erosion and even organ damage. A combination of genetic characteristics and environmental factors can cause this autoimmune disease. For example, smoking cigarettes is an environmental factor that can trigger rheumatoid arthritis in genetically-susceptible people.

Early diagnosis is critical to minimizing permanent joint damage.  Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs are often use to reduce pain, restore function, and prevent additional joint damage.

Infectious Arthritis

Compared to the causes and symptoms of other types of arthritis, infectious arthritis is rather straightforward: bacteria, a virus, or a fungus enters the joint and triggers inflammation. Food poisoning, sexually-transmitted infections, and hepatitis C are all examples of the types of organisms that can infect the joints.

Although sometimes infectious arthritis becomes chronic, antibiotic treatment often clears up the joint infection.

Metabolic Arthritis

As the body breaks down purines, an element that’s found in human cells and in many foods, it forms a substance called uric acid. Sometimes the body naturally produces more uric acid than is needed, causing growth of needle-like crystals in the joint. When this happens, patients often feel sudden or extreme joint pain. If uric acid levels aren’t quickly reduced through diet and other medical measures, chronic pain and disability may result.

Diagnosing Arthritis

Your doctor will usually conduct a physical exam to check for swollen joints and loss of motion, plus blood tests, and imaging scans may be used to determine which type of arthritis you have. A rheumatologist, a doctor specializing in arthritis, is often called in for both uncertain diagnoses and when inflammatory arthritis is suspected. You may be referred to an orthopedic surgeons when joint replacements and other joint surgery is required. 

For most joint pain, there are steps you can take to effectively relieve your pain and discomfort, including incorporating chiropractic care into your treatment.

How Chiropractic Care Treats Arthritis Pain

Chiropractic care is a preferred treatment for many arthritis patients because it is a safe, non-invasive, and non-addictive alternative to prescription and over-the-counter pain medications that come with so many unwanted side effects.

Treatment for arthritis pain may include chiropractic adjustments, gentle pressure applied to the spine and other joints to reduce restrictions and misalignments. By improving your spinal health, joint mobility, and the functioning of your nervous system, your body can better manage the pain and swelling that comes with arthritis.

Though every patient’s chiropractic treatment plan and results are different, many arthritis patients experience significantly-reduced pain and discomfort, decreased inflammation, and an improved range of motion and flexibility.

Is chiropractic care a good fit for your arthritis pain and discomfort? Make an appointment online to explore how we can create your customized treatment plan to help you feel better now and in the future.