I am a chiropractor and I treat patients in a chiropractic and massage wellness center in Bellevue, WA. I work with patients that have many different forms of arthritis and joint conditions everyday. This article will primarily focus on arthritis and its different forms (I will focus on two of the most common which are Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis). I will also discuss preventive measures as well as treatment options (natural) for existing arthritis conditions.
Most people think of Rheumatoid when they hear “arthritis.” There are many other forms, but I will expand on this one. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is considered an “autoimmune disease” where the immune system in the body attacks itself and causes damage, inflammation, swelling, and often disfigurement. It is unknown what is the actual cause for this disease and response. RA can occur at any age and is more prevalent in women. Symptoms that occurs with it include fatigue, loss of appetite, low fever, weakness, swollen glands. These are symptoms that occur in many diseases. Later in the development “morning stiffness” starts happening and it last for about an hour and starts lasting longer, then warmth and tenderness may start occurring and the joints can become stiff again with little use as quickly as an hour. The joint pain is felt on both sides of the body and usually felt in the fingers (but not fingertips), and can be felt in the wrists, elbows, hips, knees, ankles, toes, neck, jaw but are most commonly felt in the wrist, hands, knees, ankles and feet. Numbness, tingling, burning in the hands and feet is also a common symptom.
As the condition progresses, range of motion is decreed and as indicated earlier deformities can occur. Tests can be done to determine if rheumatoid arthritis is present and they include: complete blood count, c-reactive protein, rheumatoid factor test, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, x-rays, and synovial fluid analysis. As for treatment, beginning a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods is very beneficial. Some great ones are Kelp, WILD salmon, shitake mushrooms, green tea (tea in general), pineapple, turmeric, blueberry, papaya, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and extra virgin olive oil. If you can keep these regularly in you diet you will feel more energetic and the inflammatory process in the body will be slowed down significantly. Performing regular range of motion exercises such as stretching your fingers and wrists into extension and flexion to keep the joints loose. Of course, chiropractic is a big factor because we focus on keeping joints moving in their full range of motion. Strengthening exercises such as grip and extension exercises for you fingers and wrists are very beneficial. All of these treatment recommendations are also preventative measures. Whats even more beautiful is that they are all natural and have no side effects except better health.
The next arthritic condition I am going to discuss is osteoarthritis (OA). This is the most common arthritis, most common joint disorder, and it is definitely the most common I see at my office. OA is considered “aging” or “wear and tear.” Everything we do contributions to OA which is why it is so important take care of ourselves, follow prevention, and seek treatment. In OA cartilage is worn down between joints and bones become closer together and more stress is put on the joints causing more damage and aging. Bones begin making “spurs” which are bony deposits on the bone as a result of increased stress, weight bearing, and wear and tear. These spurs can be very damaging and disruptive. Also, ligaments and muscles around joints become more stiff and less flexible because they are now taking on a role of splinting and bracing. OA usually begins showing symptoms in middle age. Increased risk factors include family history, being overweight, overuse, trauma, sitting too much, computer work, and lack of activity.
The most common symptoms include stiffness and pain. You may even notice a rubbing, crackling, or friction of the joints and this is because of reduced cartilage (joint space) and bony issues such as spurs. Activity “warms” them up and causes symptoms to subside, but as people age it gets worse and worse. X-rays are a common diagnostic test. Eating and anti-inflammatory diet is beneficial, massage can help, strengthening and stretching is helpful, and yoga is also therapeutic. Chiropractic is very helpful with restoring joint function, decreasing arthritis symptoms, and preventing arthritis. It helps treat, and prevent OA tremendously by increasing range of motion and keeping the joints loose and mobile. This helps the joint keep its “space,” heal, and stay well.