Arthritis, which literally means inflammation of a joint (where two or more bones meet), actually refers to more than 100 different diseases. Rheumatic diseases include any diseases that cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints or other supportive body structures, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones.
The burden of arthritis in the United States is enormous. An estimated 50 million (about 1 of 5) adults in the United States have some form of arthritis or other rheumatic conditions. As the U.S. population ages, the number of adults with arthritis is expected to increase sharply to 67 million by 2030, and more than one-third of these adults will have limited activity as a result.
Two of the most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Degenerative joint disease, more commonly known as osteoarthritis, occurs when the cartilage in the joints starts to break down. The cartilage serves as a cushion between bones, allowing the joint to move without pain. Therefore, patients with osteoarthritis experience pain and reduced mobility in their joints. Osteoarthritis may affect any joint in the body.
Osteoarthritis occurs most often in individuals older than 45 years, but it may develop at any age. Females are more likely to develop the disorder than males, suggesting that heredity may play a role in the development of the condition. Individuals, who are obese, have weak muscles, have cartilage disorders, and/or have malformed joints, have an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the body’s immune system, which normally fights against disease and infection, attacks itself. Unlike osteoarthritis, which only affects the bones and cartilage, rheumatoid arthritis may also cause swelling in other areas of the body.
Different types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases have different signs and symptoms. In general, people who have arthritis feel pain and stiffness in the joints.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis
Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases are often mistakenly associated with old age, because osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis) occurs more often among elderly persons. However, arthritis and other rheumatic diseases affect people of all ages, even children. Some forms of arthritis affect children still in diapers, while thousands of people are stricken in the prime of their lives. Nearly 294,000 children under the age of 18 are affected by juvenile arthritis. This represents approximately 1 in every 250 children in the U.S.
Early diagnosis and treatment help decrease further joint damage and help control symptoms of arthritis and many other rheumatic diseases. Many people living in chronic pain wait a long time to see a health professional after the onset of symptoms – over 4 years on average – leading to a delay in diagnosis and treatment. This can result in the condition getting worse, and can lead, in turn, to an aggravation of the pain, deformities, increased operations and time off work. Seeking prompt medical attention would lead to earlier interventions, and would therefore significantly mitigate this situation.
It’s true that arthritis can be painful and there is no cure at present. However, there is plenty you can do to manage your condition. Several treatments have been found effective for many patients to manage arthritis and lead a full and active life, including chiropractic.
If you have a chronic disease such as osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you can benefit from ongoing management and treatment under the care of a chiropractor who has an advanced knowledge of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. Treatment is designed to meet the needs of the individual patient, depending upon the type and severity of the arthritis.
The goal is to help the patient return to the highest level of function and independence possible while improving the overall quality of life – physically, emotionally, and socially. The focus of rehabilitation is on relieving pain and increasing motion in the affected joint(s).
When addressing issues that often accompany arthritis and the physical strain it can bring to the human body, a combination of therapeutic techniques such as heat and ice, exercise, electrical stimulation, acupuncture, dietary supplements, recommending a healthier diet, weight loss and other lifestyle modifications may be used.
If you or someone you know suffers from arthritis, Heil Chiropractic can help. Contact our clinic today at (763) 323-4855.