According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis affects more than 46 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States alone. It is also one of the leading causes of disability in the United States, costing the economy more than $124 billion per year in medical care, lost wages, and lost productivity.
What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis?
There are more than 100 medical conditions that are considered to be some form of arthritis, although the most common is osteoarthritis (OA), which usually affects the elderly. Osteoarthritis involves the wearing down of cartilage between bones over time. The other most common is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is considered an autoimmune condition and can affect people at any age. Patients will experience RA flares, in which pain and symptoms are worse.
Common arthritis symptoms may include:
- Swollen, warm, and tender joints
- Prolonged joint stiffness and pain for more than 30 minutes
- General illness, tiredness, or fever
- Symmetric joints are affected, such as knees or wrists
Patients may have arthritis in a number of places on the body, but hands and wrists, hips, knees, and ankles are the most common. Arthritis can lead to joint damage from wearing down the cartilage between bones, as well as joint deformity. The most common drug treatment involves pain relievers and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. In severe cases, such as when cartilage has completely worn away, joint-replacement surgery may be necessary.
Natural Alternative Arthritis Treatments
There are a variety of natural alternatives for treating arthritis symptoms, including chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, and massage. Regular exercise and taking supplements such as chondroitin, EPA, or DHA may also help reduce symptoms. Some studies have shown benefits from adding fatty fish, such as salmon, to the diet.
Chiropractic care can help relieve the muscle spasms that often accompany arthritis, particularly OA. It can also break up scar tissue that may be adding to the pain.
Given the nature of joint involvement with arthritis, many chiropractors will also opt for non-adjusting treatments such as trigger-point therapy, ultrasound therapy, low level laser therapy, hot and cold packs, and stretching. These will all help alleviate joint pain without actually manipulating the joint in question, particularly joints that are swollen and inflamed. It is not recommended to do adjustments on rheumatoid arthritis patients who are having active symptom flares in the joints.
What Does the Research Say?
An article published in the September 1999 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine found that out of 232 patients with some form of arthritis, 63 percent were using some form of complementary or alternative medicine to treat their symptoms. One-third of these (31 percent) were using chiropractic care, and a surprising 73 percent found it to be useful for relieving symptoms.
Although chiropractic adjustments may not be able to repair damage already done to bone joints due to arthritis, it can provide a proven, safe alternative, or an addition to, traditional medicinal therapies for treating many of the painful symptoms associated with the condition.
Contact Horst Chiropractic to schedule an appointment.