Jackie Leftwich BSc MSc AMC MMCA FRCC (Animal)
Chiropractor [McTimoney/STR/IAVC] (Qualified to treat humans and animals)
Registered with GCC and RAMP
Telephone: 07738 110570
E-mail: info@watersidechiropractic.co.uk

Chiropractic: Helping People and Animals with Arthritis

January 31, 2015  |   Canine Chiropractic,Equine Chiropractic,Human Chiropractic,Latest Posts   |     |   Comments Off

Chiropractic helps people with arthritis

Helping animals with arthritis too!

Arthritis is known by many names—but all of them indicate a condition that can be both painful and debilitating.  The word ‘arthritis’ means ‘inflammation of the joint and is derived from the word arthritis comes from the Greek ‘arthron’ meaning “joint” and the Latin ‘itis’ meaning “inflammation”.  In the UK, around 10 million people have arthritis (Source: NHS.uk.).  The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, the latter being an autoimmune disorder of the joints, the former tending to occur when the cartilage that lines the joint surfaces erodes.  In fact, arthritis comprises over 100 diseases and conditions.  Chiropractic has been proven remarkably effective in treating arthritis and its symptoms, both in genetic and non-genetic related forms of arthritis.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a disease that causes the joints to swell, resulting in pain, stiffness, and loss of function, particularly in the hands, knees, feet, hips, and spine.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, affecting around 8 million people.  It often develops in people who are over 50 years of age.  However, it can occur at any age as a result of an injury or another joint-related condition.  Osteoarthritis initially affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint.  This makes movement more difficult than usual, leading to pain and stiffness.  The cartilage lining of the joint can then thin and tissues within the joint can become more active. This can then lead to swelling and the formation of bony spurs, called osteophytes.  In osteoarthritis, the cartilage (connective tissue) between the bones gradually erodes, causing bone in the joints to rub together. The joints that are most commonly affected are those in the hands, spine, knees and hips.

In the UK, rheumatoid arthritis, (also known as RA) affects more than 400,000 people.  Rheumatoid arthritis is another common form of arthritis, and it is an autoimmune disorder that can affect any joint, but is most common in the wrist and fingers.  Although the cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains unknown, we know that rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s own immune system targets affected joints, which leads to pain and swelling.  The outer covering (synovium) of the joint is the first place affected. This can then spread across the joint, leading to further swelling and a change in the joint’s shape.  This can then cause the bone and cartilage to break down.  People with rheumatoid arthritis can also develop problems with other tissues and organs in their body such as the eyes, mouth and lungs.  Generally more women than men get rheumatoid arthritis; women are three times more likely to be affected.  It most often appears between the ages of 25 and 55, and can last throughout life.  Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are two completely different conditions.

Bringing chiropractic into the discussion of arthritis adds a dimension that opens up possibilities for maintaining an active lifestyle.  It provides not only a resolution of chronic pain, but also the potential for addressing the disease with more flexible methods that focus on long-term health.  For most of the twentieth century, many people believed that the diagnosis of arthritis necessarily came with the dreaded anticipation that normal activities would become a part of a previous life.  With chiropractic and the benefits it provides, along with exercise and a healthy diet, arthritis can become a more manageable ailment.

The symptoms of arthritis you experience will vary depending on the type you have.  This is why it’s important to have an accurate diagnosis if you have:

  • joint pain, tenderness and stiffness
  • inflammation in and around the joints
  • restricted movement of the joints
  • warm, red skin over the affected joint
  • weakness and muscle wasting

Arthritis in people is most likely to appear in the following forms:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Degenerative joint disease (DJD)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gout
  • Juvenile arthritis

Who is Affected by Arthritis?

Arthritis is often associated with older people, but it can also affect children.  In the UK, about 15,000 children and young people are affected by arthritis (Source: NHS.UK)Arthritis also affects animals in much the same way that it affects people.  Click here to read more about ‘Chiropractic for Animals’.

What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic is a form of physical medicine that focuses on the relationship between the body’s structure—primarily the spine—and how it functions.  Chiropractic primarily addresses disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems and how they affect a person or animal’s health.  A chiropractor performs a structural manipulation by hand, commonly known as an adjustment to realign the body.

Daniel D Palmer founded the modern-day chiropractic profession 1895, which grew from the belief that the body is self-healing and that the nervous system is the key to maintaining health.  With the brain and spine as the centre of the nervous system, it followed logically, according to Palmer and chiropractors since then, that it is the key to health.  Proper adjustment of the musculoskeletal system, and preventing what are known as subluxations or traumas that occur to misalign the spine and bring stress in movement will help create an environment inhospitable to disease.

Some chiropractors, with a holistic approach, will also employ other therapeutic techniques in treating patients.  In addition to spinal manipulation, chiropractors use heat and ice, exercise, massage therapy, dietary supplements, recommending a healthier diet, weight loss, posture and other lifestyle alternatives, when addressing issues that often accompany arthritis and the physical strain it can bring to the body.  Click here to read more about ‘What is Chiropractic’ and ‘McTimoney Chiropractic’.

How Can Chiropractic Help Arthritis?

Chiropractic for arthritis addresses the practical issue of getting the body to move more freely and addresses the compensations that can occur in other parts of the body when it is not being used correctly.  For example, a person or animal with osteoarthritis of the knee may limp/be lame or not be able to walk freely, which then places other stresses and strains on other parts of the body like the spine, pelvis, foot and the other leg.  Once the body is aligned to move with fewer restrictions, the need for pain-relieving medications lessens, or in some cases, disappears altogether.

Chiropractic as a regular treatment can also help prevent arthritis, or at least its damaging effects.  This form of prevention is probably the most crucial benefit in treating the disease.  The lifestyle changes and therapies associated with chiropractic can influence diet, exercise, and maintaining the body’s alignment that chiropractors believe will offset health problems that might accompany arthritis.  Proper weight and a healthy immune system are both important factors in limiting the devastating effects of all forms of arthritis, especially osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Chiropractic—and the holistic health practices that often accompany it—offers multiple benefits in offsetting the dreaded effects of this disease that can take so many undesirable forms for so many people and animals.

Why use Chiropractic for Arthritis?

The basis for chiropractic care is centered in the body’s ability to heal itself.  By correcting joint and spine dislocations, a chiropractor helps increase range of motion in the body, which assists in movement.  Chiropractic and its complementary treatments, which include nutrition and lifestyle choices such as exercise and massage therapy, can be used as a preventive measure in developing arthritis or to help relieve the serious mobility issues.  Because chiropractic focuses on physical manipulation, joints can be directly adjusted in order to reduce pain.  In general, the stiffness and pain that can result from various forms of arthritis can be helped or alleviated with chiropractic treatment.

Once arthritis occurs, chiropractic’s use of spinal manipulation can result in the diminishing of pain by assisting the overall physical health, resulting in greater ease of movement and decreased fluid build up in the joints that often accompanies arthritic conditions.  The use of massage in chiropractic care can also ease stiffness and encourage movement.  The application of heat and cold presses has been shown to ease arthritic pain.

Using chiropractic instead of prescription medicines for pain relief, or over-the-counter medications such as NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), can reduce the chances of experiencing harmful side effects from long-term use.  It offers a non-invasive method of maintaining physical health and addresses such conditions as arthritis in a way that will offer freedom of movement without the deteriorating effects that might come with medication.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine1 reported that 63% of patients who visited a rheumatologist, for the conditions rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, also sought some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).  Of these individuals 31% (almost half) chose chiropractic care, making chiropractic the most popular alternative used by this group of people.  Importantly, 73% of these patients determined that chiropractic care was helpful in controlling their chronic pain.

An additional aspect of this study was to determine why these arthritic patients chose CAM and the reasons they gave were:

  1. Because their prescribed medication wasn’t working to control their pain
  2. Because they heard it would help
  3. Because it is safe
  4. Because it helped someone they know

Reducing the use of prescription medicines or over-the-counter medications such as NSAIDs for pain relief means fewer harmful side effects and addiction from long term use.  The lifestyle changes associated with chiropractic recommendations will also positively influence diet, exercise and overall health.

The ability to control some symptoms through chiropractic care not only reduces the financial burden on the NHS (arthritis cases are set to double by 2030!) but more importantly it improves the quality of life of those suffering from the disease and may in some cases delay the necessity to take early retirement.

It is important that people realise that there are effective treatments without the side effects.  If you, your animal, or someone you know has been diagnosed with arthritis and you have read something that resonates with you, don’t hesitate in booking a thorough chiropractic consultation with Waterside Chiropractic on 07738 110570.  Chiropractic could change your life.

(1) Rao JK, Mihaliak K, Kroenke K, Bradley J, Tierney WM, Weinberger M. Use of complementary therapies for arthritis among patients of rheumatologists. Ann Intern Med 1999; 131:409-416.

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