"Uncle Arthur": Arthritis and chiropractic care.

By: Zoë C. Pogrelis, D.C.

May is Arthritis Awareness Month and I think this is an excellent time to talk about old Uncle Arthur! Arthritis is a general term for swollen and painful joints. There are over 100 different types of arthritis, but for the purpose of time, let's discuss the type of arthritis that comes from general "wear and tear": Osteoarthritis, also known as Degenerative Joint Disease.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. When the cartilage – the slick, cushioning surface on the ends of bones – wears away, bone rubs against bone, causing pain, swelling and stiffness. Over time, joints can lose strength and pain may become chronic. Risk factors include excess weight, family history, age and previous injury (an anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, tear, for example in the knee). Other factors that contribute to osteoarthritis are poor posture, repetitive movements and gravity!

Although chiropractic care cannot help you "re-grow" the lost cartilage, it can and does help keep your joints mobilized. Often times, arthritic joints become fixated because we avoid using them due to pain or swelling. Chiropractors focus on ensuring that joints are functioning properly by addressing the structure of the joints. You're probably familiar with a chiropractor adjusting joints in the spine to help with low back and neck pain caused by degenerative joint disease in the spine. However, did you know that chiropractors also adjust other joints such as knees, shoulders, ankles, and hands? When your joints are moving properly, studies have shown that you experience less pain and swelling.

In the past, chiropractic got mixed reviews from physicians. However, in early 2017, The American College of Physicians released new guidelines. It now supports the use of non-medicine therapies, such as chiropractic, as first-line treatments for arthritis pain, before using medication. So, if you need confirmation from my wonderful colleagues on the medical side of things, there you have it!

In addition to regular chiropractic care, a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods and low in sugar, and regular physical activity are key components to living a pain free life with degenerative arthritis. The reality is that most all of us have some form of degenerative changes in our bodies. It is simply part of the human experience. However, you don't always need to take drugs or get injections in order to manage your arthritis symptoms. Don't let joint pain keep you from enjoying the moments that make life worth living. Give chiropractic a try and see for yourself!