The word arthritis literally means joint inflammation, and it actually encompasses many different disorders and conditions. By far the most common is osteoarthritis, which is descriptively known as degenerative arthritis. In other words, the problems begin when the joint surfaces begin to break down. Sometimes this is a roughening or loss of cartilage in the joint, or even changes to the bones themselves. Essentially the joints start to get worn out – which, for many of us shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, considering the stress we apply to our joints every day. No man-made material would last as long with so much abuse! People developing arthritis have pain, tenderness, swelling and stiffness in the joints – primarily in the weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips and spine, but also in the hands. Arthritis is very common and can be a debilitating condition.
The most successful long-term treatment for arthritis is… wait for it… exercise. Yep, good old-fashioned moderate exercise will help more than any magic drug or surgery for most people. Mobility and motion – that is the key, and it is also what chiropractic focuses on. We work with the spine, but also other joints to restore mobility and encourage motion. Generally speaking, a moving joint is a healthy joint, and one of the best ways to not only delay the onset of degenerative joint conditions, but also to manage problems associated with degeneration once it has begun is to keep the joints moving. If you are on the heavy side, weight loss also is very important to reduce the strain on these already burdened joints.
Of course there are many different types of treatments available for arthritis pain which are variable in their effectiveness. Anti-inflammatory drugs and joint injections can give some temporary relief, and in extreme cases a partial or total joint replacement is recommended. But sometimes the simplest solutions are the best, so before you do anything drastic, start by just trying to move more! In conjunction with your exercise program, an effective way to get rid of the pain and actually help to heal the joints is with the use of laser therapy. I have treated hundreds of arthritic joints with laser therapy and have seen some amazing results. The most dramatic have been arthritic knees. Interestingly, this is an area where the medical profession has little to offer except waiting until it gets too bad to continue and then replacing the whole joint! The problem is that in the meantime you have wasted away all the active years of your life when you want your knees to be working for you but have been suffering with pain instead.
So… get moving, get laser therapy, and get better!