Arthritis is probably one of the most commonly misunderstood and misdiagnosed health concerns I see as a chiropractor in Austin, Texas. Arthritis is an umbrella term that simply means joint inflammation or joint disease.If we have pain in our body, we are quick to label it as “arthritis,” although that is not necessarily a proper diagnosis.
There are many different types of arthritis that can be categorized into multiple categories:
- 1. Degenerative
- 2. Inflammatory
- 3. Infectious
- 4. metabolic
Let me get technical really quick then I’ll explain in lay terms. The most common type of arthritis, and what we mean when we just use the word “arthritis” by itself, is a type of “degenerative arthritis” called “osteoarthritis.” This is the type of arthritis we will be referring to for the rest of the article. Okay, now allow me to translate into lay terms. “Osteoarthritis” simply refers to a joint in our body that wears down over time, aka “wear and tear”. It is like tires on a car wearing down from driving long distances. The medical community refers to this as “normal wear and tear.” While it is common, it is never normal to develop arthritis. Arthritis is diagnosed by seeing the amount of wear each joint has. There are signs on x-ray that we look for and give us the classification that someone indeed has arthritis.
What causes arthritis?
This wear and tear arthritis I just mentioned is caused by an abnormal amount of pressure and stress on the joints in our body overtime. Abnormal pressure results in faster than normal wear and tear. Factors that contribute include motor vehicle accidents, falls, and sports injuries. Other contributing factors that may surprise us include small injuries that accumulate over time such as sitting for long periods, poor posture, and repetitive movement done wrong. We are all exposed to these scenarios which alter our mechanics often! This is why arthritis is so common. If we catch these altered mechanics early and learn how to minimize them through education from our doctors, then we can drastically minimize the chances of ever getting arthritis!
How to treat arthritis?
The medical community typically uses over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicine to control the symptoms associated with wear and tear arthritis. Pain is simply a warning sign that there is an underlying problem. Soley getting rid of the pain with medication does not give rid of the underlying cause. This is like putting duct tape over a check engine light that is going off in our car! It masks the warning sign; it does not correct the underlying cause.
A Natural, effective approach to treat arthritis
As chiropractors, we address any mechanical problems with the human framework through making adjustments to the spine. We also give specific exercises and lifestyle advice to change the patterns of movement that initially contributed to the arthritis in the first place. As we mentioned, arthritis is a result of the abnormal pressure on the joints, so correcting structure of the spine and surrounding joints takes the pressure off them. This not only prevents the joints from continuing to wear out at a faster than normal rate, but typically also gives people relief from the pain of the arthritis they are experiencing.
If we mask symptoms without a real solution, do you think the problem will get better or worse over time?