Early detection of arthritis is essential. Once damage to a joint
surface begins, little can be done to restore it back to the original
condition. This is because cartilage, the material that makes up the
surfaces of the joint, has a poor blood supply. Although cartilage will
heal to a degree, it simply will not heal as well as muscle or skin.
The good news is that with proper care and supervised rehabilitative
exercises, the surrounding support tissues can be strengthened to
compensate for many of these joint disorders.
As cartilage continues to be won down, the joint has to more difficulty
functioning. A simple analogy to this is to go loosen the hinges on a
door and see how poorly it opens and closes. Even if the swelling could
be entirely removed from a very arthritic joint, the lack of proper
joint motion would cause so much additional stress to the joint that
the swelling would quickly return.
It is important to reduce and control the swelling of arthritis as
swelling itself contributes to the destruction of the cartilage. People
who suffer from degenerative arthritis commonly experience swelling
after activity. People with rheumatoid arthritis usually see swelling
in the affected joint after rest, especially upon awakening.
It is important to use arthritic joints as disuse also leads to more
arthritic changes; however, it is vital to not over stress an arthritic
joint; otherwise, the swelling may significantly worsen. If you have
either form of joint arthritis, your Doctor of Chiropractic should be
consulted before you begin any exercise program or commit to any
significant physically related lifestyle changes.
Chiropractors see many patients with degenerative arthritis. The spine
is especially susceptible to this disorder. In fact, you may have the
early signs of spinal degenerative arthritis but just have not noticed
the symptoms yet. Simple palpation (feeling) of the vertebrae while the
spine is slowly being moved can discover joints that do mot move as
freely as other joints do. This is one finding that could lead to a
diagnosis of degenerative arthritis. Another revealing procedure is a
simple x-ray. A x-ray film can reveal the bony changes associated with
either degenerative or rheumatic arthritis.
The treatment for the two types of arthritis is similar. Both require
ice, passive motion (the practitioner moves the joint while the patient
remains relaxed) and or the use of ultrasound to help control the
swelling. Moist heat is also needed to help increase circulation.
Paraffin wax baths are helpful for hands and wrists while moist hot
packs are used for the spine, shoulders, and knees. Arthritic hips may
require deep-heat sources like microwave or short-wave diathermy. This
is because the hip joints are seated to deeply in the pelvis to reach
with more commonly used therapies. Your chiropractor can provide,
prescribe, or recommend these therapies as needed. The application of
spinal and or extremity manipulation may also be used to help you gain
control over your arthritic condition. Nutritional counseling, exercise
instruction, and lifestyle changes may additional considerations during
your course of care.
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Articles are not intended for self-diagnosis or treatment. Users of
this site should consult with their doctors before making any decisions
regarding their health care.
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