What is Arthritis?
Years ago, doctors hardly ever told arthritis patients to “go take a hike” or “go for a swim.” Arthritis was considered an inherent part of the aging process and a signal to a patient that it’s time to slow down, but not so much anymore. Recent research and clinical findings show that there is much more to life for arthritis patients than the traditional recommendation of bed rest and drug therapy.
Let’s start by the definition of the word Arthritis. “Arthritis” means “joint inflammation”. Inflammation is part of your body’s healing process. It normally occurs as a defense against viruses and bacteria or as a reaction to an injury such as a burn. But in people with inflammatory arthritis the inflammation often occurs for no obvious reason.
Instead of helping to repair the body, inflammation causes the tissues in and around the affected joints to become damaged, causing pain, stiffness and swelling. Arthritis literally means inflammation within the joint itself, but inflammation may also affect the tendons and ligaments surrounding the joint (this is known as enthesitis).
Several features distinguish it from other kinds of joint pain:
- Tender, warm, and swollen joints
- Fatigue, sometimes fever, and a general sense of not feeling well.
- Pain and stiffness lasts for more than 30 minutes after a long rest.
- The condition is symmetrical. If one hand is affected, the other one is, too.
- The wrist and finger joints closest to the hand are most frequently affected. Neck, shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, ankle, and feet joints can also be affected.
- The disease can last for years and can affect other parts of the body, not only the joints.
Arthritis affects about 1 percent of the U.S. population (about 2.1 million people.) Although rheumatoid arthritis often begins in middle age and is more frequent in the older generation, it can also start at a young age.
Inflammation can damage the surface of the joint and sometimes the underlying bone. Inflammatory types of arthritis often affect several joints. Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is highly individual. Some people suffer from mild arthritis that lasts from a few months to a few years and then goes away. Mild or moderate arthritis have periods of worsening symptoms (flares) and periods of remissions, when the patient feels better.
People with severe arthritis feel pain most of the time. The pain lasts for many years and can cause serious joint damage and disability.
How is arthritis diagnosed?
Your doctor will diagnose your arthritis by asking you about your symptoms and how they’ve developed, examining you and possibly arranging for tests to be done.
At ChiroMax Wellness Centers the doctor may ask you about the following symptoms:
- The exact location of your pain (whether in the joint or between the joints) and which joints are involved
- Any swelling in or around your joints which could signal inflammatory arthritis
- Other aspects of your health, as arthritis can affect other organs in your body.
The doctor will be able to tell a lot from examining you as well as looking out for any of these signs:
- Swelling in the joints which may be caused by inflammatory arthritis
- Tenderness and pain in the soft tissues
- A rash or mouth ulcers which may occur in some forms of arthritis
After the thorough examination, the doctor might suggest tests to confirm the diagnosis, to rule out other possible causes or to assess the severity of your condition. These tests may include:
- Blood tests – to help make a diagnosis, or to monitor the condition or the drug treatments offered
- X-rays – which can show bone abnormalities or damage, but aren’t very good for detecting early signs of arthritis
- A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan – to detect early problems and show inflammation
- A Computerized Tomography (CT) scan – which records cross-sections (or ‘slices’) of the body to give detailed pictures of the skeleton and other
ChiroMax Wellness Centers Can Help!
Pain and arthritis does not have to be part of growing older. We will work with you to safely lessen the pain and stiffness and to prevent more serious damage to your joints. Getting enough rest, doing the right exercise, learning the right way to use and protect your joints are keys to living with any kind of arthritis
At ChiroMax Wellness Centers we will give you the right physical therapy treatment and a healthy, well-balanced eating plan which can greatly reduce the painful symptoms of arthritis.
What Is the Goal of Physical Therapy?
Most of our arthritis patients suffer from stiff joints — largely because they avoid movements that can increase pain. By not moving arthritic joints, however, the stiffness and pain only get worse. Therefore, people with arthritis often benefit from physical therapy.
The goal of physical therapy is to get a person back to the point where he or she can perform normal, everyday activities without difficulty.
Preserving good range of motion is key to maintain the ability to perform daily activities. Therefore, increasing the range of motion of a joint is the primary focus of physical therapy. Building strength in the involved muscles surrounding the joint also is extremely important, since stronger muscles can better stabilize a weakened joint.
Physical therapy provides exercises designed to preserve the strength and use of your joints. We can show you the best way to move from one position to another. We can also teach you how to use walking aids such as crutches, a walker or a cane, if necessary.
We can help our arthritis patients plan an individualized exercise program that will:
- Help them restore the lost range of motion to their joints.
- Improve their flexibility and endurance.
- Increase their muscle tone and strength.
Our physical therapist will teach you how to work out stiffness without further damaging your joint. There are many types of arthritis, which may affect one or more joints in the body. At ChiroMax Wellness Centers we treat many forms of arthritis such as:
- Osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis. It gets worse over time and is caused by trauma or a defect in the smooth, white tissue covering the ends of bones where they come together to form joints.
Osteoarthritis affects the large weight-bearing joints such as the shoulders, knees, hips, and spine, and the small joints of the hands, most commonly the thumbs.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disorder affecting any part of the body, including large or small joints, the heart and circulatory system, the lungs and the muscles used for breathing, and the digestive system.
An effective therapy for arthritis patients is occupational therapy. Occupational therapy help people with arthritis live life to its fullest by maximizing their ability to participate in activities (occupations), promoting safety, and enhancing quality of life.
Occupational therapy can teach you how to reduce strain on your joints during daily activities. It can show you how to modify your home and workplace environments to reduce motions that may aggravate arthritis. They also may provide splints for your hands or wrists, and recommend assistive devices to aid in tasks such as driving, bathing, dressing, housekeeping, and certain work activities.
What Is the Role of Nutrition?
ChiroMax Wellness Centers can also give you nutrition and supplementation advice that can be helpful in controlling and reducing joint inflammation.
Arthritis medications help suppress the immune system and slow the progression of the disease. But for those who prefer an alternative approach, nutrition may provide complementary support. Some evidence shows that nutrition can play a role in controlling the inflammation, and possibly also in slowing the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
Some foods and nutritional supplements can be helpful in managing arthritis:
- Fatty-acid supplements: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and gamma linolenic acid (GLA)
- Several studies point to the effectiveness of these fatty acid supplements in reducing joint pain and swelling, and lessening reliance on corticosteroids.
- Deep-sea fish, such as salmon, tuna, herring, and halibut, are sources of EPA and DHA. GLA is found in very few food sources, such as black currants and borage seed
- Turmeric, a spice that’s used to make curry dishes, may also be helpful. A 95 percent curcuminoid extract has been shown to significantly inhibit the inflammatory cascade and provide relief of joint inflammation and pain.
- Ginger extract has been shown to be beneficial in terms of inflammation.
- Also vegetarian or low-allergen diet can help with the management of rheumatoid arthritis as well.
The benefits and risks of most of these agents are being researched. Before taking any dietary supplement, especially if you are using medication to control your condition, consult with your health care provider.
If you’ve been suffering from any type of arthritis call us at:
(713) 691-8355 (I-45 Location) or
(713) 222-6374 (I-10 Location)
to schedule an appointment. At ChiroMax Wellness Centers we are dedicated to getting you out of pain and back to feeling good again. Most forms of insurance accepted.