Like tooth decay, degeneration of your joints begins without you knowing. If you live long enough you will most likely develop some degree of osteoarthritis. The general wear and tear of our lives results in joints laying down extra bone in an attempt to protect and support the damaged area.

There are many people suffering pain from arthritis of the spine and extremities and as chiropractors we treat patients with arthritis everyday. There are different types of arthritis but the most common type is osteoarthritis (OA) or degenerative joint disease sometimes called ‘wear and tear’ arthritis.

OA is usually the result of too much stress on the joints. The cartilage which lies between the bones is normally smooth but in these diseases it wears away and becomes rough and weak. The body’s defense is to try and strengthen the area and it does this by laying down new bone around the joint. The bone spreads out and thickens forming outgrowths called osteophytes. This all leads to the symptoms of pain and stiffness.

As the disease progresses, bits of cartilage can break off from the bone, causing the bone ends to rub together which causes a lot of pain and changes the shape of the joint. The more severe it becomes the more risk you have of developing nerve irritation due to the decrease in space for the nerves in the spine. As well as pain and stiffness you could develop numbness, tingling and weakness in your arms or legs.

There is no single cause of arthritis but there are several factors that seem to increase your risk of getting the disease:

  • Age: more likely with increasing age and is uncommon before the age of 40
  • Sex: it is more common in women
  • Weight: being overweight increases your chances of osteoarthritis, especially of the knee
  • Injury: an injury, operation, earlier disease or repeated strain at a joint may lead to osteoarthritis later in life
  • Smoking: shown to increase the development and severity of arthritis.

A recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine has found that 63% of people who consulted a rheumatologist for OA, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia conditions also sought some form of “complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)”. Chiropractic was not only the most sought after form of CAM for those patients, but it was also among those found to be most helpful for these conditions.

"Medically arthritis is treated with drugs and very occasionally surgery"

Osteoarthritis is most common in the neck, back, hands, knees, hips and feet. It usually develops slowly and some people hardly notice anything. Some patients report mild symptoms while in others it may be severe.  It develops differently from person to person but causes the joint to become inflamed resulting in pain and stiffness.

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Medically arthritis is treated with drugs and very occasionally surgery (like in the case of a replacement for a severely arthritic hip). Drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories may reduce some of the pain but they also have their side effects as they can cause stomach problems, ulcers and even kidney damage.

Chiropractic has given many people all over the world relief from the symptoms of arthritis. The presence of arthritis in the spine may be a sign that there is misalignment and malfunction of the joints and spine as a result of previous car accidents, trauma, sports injuries, or daily stress such as bad posture. These all cause abnormal joint movement which causes stress on the spine leading to increased wear and tear.  When you receive a chiropractic adjustment the range of motion in the arthritic joint increases and there is usually a great reduction in your symptoms. Chiropractic treatment can also slow the rate at which the spine degenerates thus improving your overall wellbeing.

Chiropractors are experts in the care of the bones, nerves, muscles and connective tissues that make up about 60% of your body. Your overall health is dependent on the optimal function of your spine and nervous system. Motion is the key to a healthy spine and healthy joints; regular chiropractic care promotes proper joint function and mobility in the whole body.