Hello, everyone! This is Dr. Bob Salamon with Lowcountry Chiropractic. As always, I hope you’re doing well and staying healthy! In my last post, we discussed scoliosis, an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine, and how chiropractic care can relieve pain caused by this condition and can prevent it from worsening if caught early enough. Today, we’ll be talking about arthritis and ways you can treat it at home. Arthritis is the inflammation, swelling or tenderness of one or more joints. The two main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which can get worse with age. Although arthritis cannot be cured, there are ways you can manage your symptoms at home. If you are interested in learning more, you’re in the right place! Let’s get started.
Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States, affecting about 50 million adults and 300,000 children. There are different types of arthritis– in fact, there are over 100 types– but the two most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that occurs when the flexible tissue that cushions the ends of bones wears down over time. This most often happens with age and affects the fingers, knees, and hips. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissue and joints, causing pain and swelling. It often affects the hands and feet, and may also affect the internal organs and systems.
The exact cause of most types of arthritis is unknown, but there are certain things that may put you more at risk. For example, having a family history of arthritis, having certain autoimmune disorders, or having a job or playing a sport that puts repeated strain and stress on your joints can all contribute to the development of arthritis. Prior injury to a joint could increase your risk of developing arthritis later in life. Additionally, smoking and lack of exercise can increase your risk. Obesity is also a common trigger of arthritis, as more weight puts extra strain on your joints.
Different types of arthritis may require different treatments, but it is commonly treated with medication, such as anti-inflammatory and pain medications to relieve symptoms. Physical therapy is also a great way to rehabilitate the joints and improve strength, range of motion, and mobility. In severe cases of arthritis, surgery may be recommended. For those looking for a more natural and non-invasive treatment, chiropractic care is one of the safest and most effective therapies you can use. Chiropractic care can realign joints to relieve pain and minimize further damage to the cartilage surrounding the joint. In addition to visiting a chiropractor, there are ways that you can treat arthritis at home that will help manage your symptoms.
One of the best ways to treat arthritis at home is through exercise. We all know how important exercise is to our overall health, but it is also great for our joints. Exercise strengthens the muscles, ligaments, and tendons surrounding the joints. This allows the area to act as a protective barrier or “brace” for the joints, protecting them and lessening pressure put on weakened joints by offering support. Joint pain is also reduced during and after exercise because of an increase in synovial fluid. Synovial fluid, sometimes known as joint fluid, is a thick liquid located between the joints. It cushions the ends of our bones and allows them to slip past one another freely, greatly reducing friction. Physical activity increases the circulation of the fluid, making it much easier for the joints to move.
Low-impact exercises tend to be best for those with arthritis, including walking and cycling. Water activities and exercises are also great because the water’s buoyancy provides extra support for your muscles and joints– This increases your strength, endurance, and flexibility while putting less strain on your joints. Calming exercises such as yoga or tai chi have also proven to help reduce joint pain. Both of these exercises involve deep breathing and meditation and have been shown to improve mobility and range of motion, and reduce stress.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Heat and cold treatments are a great way to reduce pain and inflammation caused by arthritis. Heat therapy works by dilating the blood vessels, which increases blood flow and improves circulation in painful or stiff areas. There are two types of heat therapy: dry heat and moist heat. Dry heat comes from things such as heating pads or heat lamps. Moist heat comes from warm baths or showers and steamed towels. In any case, you want to aim for more of a warm temperature, rather than a hot one– This is more comfortable and will not damage the skin.
In contrast, cold therapy works by reducing blood flow to a particular area. This is sometimes referred to as cryotherapy, and can significantly reduce inflammation and swelling. Cold therapy may include ice packs, ice baths, and coolant sprays. Again, you should find a temperature that is tolerable. It may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but cold helps numb deep pain and discomfort.
Adopt and Maintain a Healthy Diet
Just like exercise, we know the benefits of a healthy diet. Not only can proper nutrition improve your overall health, but it can work wonders for your bones and joints, too. While a diet cannot eliminate arthritis, there are many foods that can help reduce inflammation and joint pain.
Some foods that fight inflammation include:
Choosing one or all of these home remedies can bring much-needed relief– Especially if coupled with chiropractic care. Your chiropractor or primary care physician may also recommend massage therapy, as this gentle manipulation can reduce joint pain and stiffness. A chiropractor will evaluate your condition and can create a customized treatment plan accordingly. Chiropractors are also trained to give nutritional advice and can help you come up with a dietary plan that will help reduce inflammation of the joints. They can also recommend an exercise regimen that can be done at home. The body is self-healing and self-regulating, so these recommendations can provide your body with the guidance it needs to help you function as best as possible.
Although there is no miracle cure for arthritis, symptoms can be managed with a combination of at-home treatments as well as chiropractic care. I hope you found this article informative. If you or a loved one are suffering from arthritis, you may benefit from chiropractic care. Consider reaching out to Lowcountry Chiropractic! We specialize in different chiropractic techniques, as well as both therapeutic and Swedish massage. Send us an email or give us a call and we’ll assess the situation and develop a long-term treatment plan to address your needs. We want to help you live a pain-free life– It’s what you deserve. As always, this is Dr. Bob and I have your back covered!
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