Chiropractic care: the philosophy behind it is simple and intuitive. When proper function is restored to your body, the body can then heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery. Imagine being able to enjoy life again, without medication. What’s the “secret” behind chiropractic care?
There’s really no secret; chiropractic care focuses on your unique aches and pains, your body, and seeks to restore optimal performance. Just like a zipper that’s off its track, if the structure of a joint isn’t right, then it won’t be able to work as designed. Take arthritis as an example. When arthritis strikes, your joints are inflamed and/or out of alignment and cannot work optimally. Chiropractic care seeks to maximize joint function by restoring alignment and reducing the cause of your inflammation.
Chiropractic care isn’t a one-size fits all solution; treatment is tailored to the type of arthritis you have. How does it work and what should you expect?
Which Types of Arthritis See Results From Chiropractic Care?
If your arthritis pain and stiffness is due to osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative arthritis, the most common type of arthritis) studies show that chiropractic care is one of the safest and most effective therapies available. What’s key to treating osteoarthritis, is building strength, improving posture, and increasing range of motion. Thus, your treatment plan may include gentle pressure on your soft tissue to stop muscle spasms and ease tenderness, allowing you to move your joints more freely. Exercises to gradually stretch out your joints and increase your range of motion are also frequently used. Many patients find their chiropractic visits sometimes feel akin to a very hands-on version of physical therapy.
On the other hand, if your arthritis is due to an inflammatory disease, like rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis, treatment will vary as this type of arthritis is very different. The pain and disability that often come with rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis are due to inflammation in the joints, rather than the result of vertebrae that are out of alignment. If your joint swelling isn’t under control, a chiropractic adjustment may not be the most effective option and other treatments will be recommended. Your first visit will include a detailed medical history and physical exam to determine which approaches are best for you.
Alternative Therapies for Arthritis
While your most-inflamed joints might end up being “off-limits” for traditional chiropractic adjustments, several other chiropractic adjunctive therapies can help. By treating surrounding tissues, it can significantly reduce swelling and provide relief for arthritis pain. For example, if swollen knee joints make it difficult to walk, you may experience secondary pain in the lower back. To treat, we won’t touch the knee; rather a pelvic adjustment may be effective in reducing overall pain in your back and legs.
Some of the more common therapies include:
Ultrasound . This isn’t the kind of ultrasound that produces pictures. When applied to soft tissues and joints, sound waves create a massaging effect that helps reduce swelling and decreases both arthritis pain and stiffness.
Electrotherapy. These tiny, pain-free electric pulses treat soft tissue injuries when they stimulate the nerves and muscles.
Low-level laser or “cold laser.” A non-heat-producing laser or light that penetrates deep into the tissue and can reduce inflammation.
What To Expect At Your First Appointment
Your first appointment is about getting to know you, your health history, and creating a plan to provide immediate relief while setting goals for the future. Your holistic, customized treatment plan can include therapeutic treatment, maintenance care, exercise, activity modification, and chiropractic adjustments.
A common myth about chiropractic care is that it’s all about cracking a patient’s back or involves a series of painful adjustments. Nothing could be further from the truth; today’s chiropractic care is often much more gentle than many new patients expect. In fact, there are over 150 chiropractic techniques to adjust the joints, spine and other muscles, all developed to restore function naturally and provide lasting relief without the use of medications. Still not convinced? The American College of Physicians released brand-new guidelines supporting the use of chiropractic and acupuncture as first-line treatments for low back pain, before prescribing medication. And, a 2017 review in the Journal of the American Medical Association also found that spinal manipulation (another word for chiropractic adjustment) was effective in reducing lower back pain.
The bottom line: don’t accept arthritis pain as a fact of life.