Craig W. Brue, D.C.
“I ache all over. I’m so stiff in the morning. What’s wrong with me?” You are probably experiencing some form of arthritis. Arthritis is defined as the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints. The types and causes of arthritis are varied and complex.
Research has identified more than 100 different types of arthritis. Some types of arthritis are associated with the aging process, while others are secondary to other diseases. The most common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid, lupus, gout, juvenile arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis of the spine, and fibromyalgia.
The type of arthritis that affects almost the entire senior population is osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis is basically the wearing out of the joint space or cartilage pads between the bony surfaces. Osteoarthritic changes, including bone spurs and disc degeneration, are commonly found after serious spinal injuries or long-standing spinal imbalances.
The next most common type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis—an autoimmune disease in which the person’s antibodies attack the joint (and possibly other tissues as well). This can occur at a young, middle, or older age, whenever the body is triggered to produce the joint attacking antibodies. Rheumatoid arthritis is often characterized by disabling pain, with joints that are distorted or completely destroyed.
Can chiropractic help some forms of arthritis? The answer is a definite yes. This is especially true with osteoarthritis and disc degeneration. Over time, the vertebrae of your spine often undergo arthritic changes after significant trauma and overuse. Chiropractors work on the affected areas of the spine to restore motion and mobility by using specific spinal adjustments to free up those areas of altered spinal biomechanics that are producing pain. Chiropractic treatment is especially helpful for those patients who are experiencing back or neck pain that is associated with stenosis (pinching and narrowing of nerve openings), disc degeneration, spinal misalignment, and restricted ranges of spinal mobility.
Many chiropractors are now utilizing very gentle adjusting instruments; “Activators” or an electronic adjusting instrument called an “Impulse.” This type of precision spinal care is very safe and effective for spinal arthritis, because there is no snapping or cracking sensation that is associated with a more aggressive spinal adjustment. This type of adjustment is completely painless.
Chiropractors will also evaluate your posture and lifestyle, making specific recommendations that are beneficial in your program of care. Gentle spinal adjustments, postural changes, simple stretching exercises, and the use of structural supports should be considered before you begin an endless protocol of drugs, shots, and surgery.
My advice: The best approach for the management of arthritic and spinal pain should always include an excellent chiropractor. Drugs may help reduce inflammation, but their long-term side effects will outweigh the benefits. Try chiropractic care first. You may have nothing to lose except the pain you are experiencing.
Dr. Craig W. Brue is an author, lecturer, and chiropractic physician in SaddleBrooke, Ariz. For more information on chiropractic care, go to bruechiropractic.com.