Keeping in the them of our inaugural Digital Rheum post, we will be discussing how chiropractic care can potentially benefit people with some types of arthritis and rheumatic disease.
If your rheumatologist agrees that you may benefit from seeing a chiropractor, here are some things to keep in mind!
Know the differences between types of chiropractic care:
- Both chiropractors and osteopathic physicians use manipulation to ease back pain, although the way they do it varies.
- Osteopathic manipulation often involves massaging the soft tissues (such as muscles) about the spine, whereas chiropractic involves manipulating the ligaments and vertebrae of the spine.
- Either type of manipulation can be effective for back pain, particularly if pain is caused by problems such as sprains (damage to the ligaments) or strains (damage to the muscles).
- If osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis weakens your spine, however, your doctor may advise you to stick to osteopathic manipulation, which is generally gentler than chiropractic manipulation.
- An added benefit of osteopathic medicine: osteopathic physicians are licensed doctors, just as MDs are. Many specialize in rheumatology and can also prescribe medications and other treatment for underlying cause of your pain.
Don’t be afraid to say NO!
- If manipulation is hurting you too much, a good chiropractor will listen to your concerns and back off
- That being said, you may ache a bit at the beginning as your body adjusts to your treatments. Like with many new exercises or treatment plans, you may feel worse before you begin to feel better.
Diet and exercise are often a component.
- Many chiropractors practice overall regimens of health & wellness. Therefore, you may be placed into a training or physical therapy program to help you lose weight, if necessary, which should take some pressure off of your back and joints.
- Some chiropractors’ offices also offer a nutritional protocol in the forms of dietary counseling and herbal supplements.
Know your stuff! What to know about chiropractic care before your visit:
- Chiropractic is a word of Greek origin meaning “done by hand.”
- Chiropractic medicine deals with treating and preventing musculoskeletal system disorders and the effects of those disorders on the nervous system and general health. Doctors of chiropractic must complete four years of specialized training at an accredited chiropractic college on top of undergraduate work before they can become licensed to practice.
- People have long been wary of chiropractors because they “crack your back” or “snap the neck.” Chiropractors will tell you that, although the field does rely primarily on manual manipulations, drop table adjustments and instrument adjustments are done in a calculated way and are intended to restore mobility in joints. Manipulations can be by hand or by using an instrument. In such treatment, an essential first step is to take an X-ray to get a good look at the spine and neck. “A reputable chiropractor will always take an X-ray before an adjustment,” says Jane Dinerman, DC, a chiropractor in Atlanta. But chiropractic can involve more than adjusting the spine, neck and other joints, Scott Bautch, DC, chairman and CEO of Wisconsin-based Allied Health Chiropractic Centers, points out. “For those with RA, we look at a broad spectrum of issues and address them in various ways to minimize damage, slow the pace of the condition and ease pain,” he says. “We want to get the joint as comfortable as possible.”
How can chiropractors help ease the pain and symptoms of arthritis?
- According to the American Chiropractic Association, chiropractic treatments can help ease the pain of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic back pain. It is even safe for those with osteoporosis, though your chiropractor needs to know your history of osteoporosis or osteopenia if you have it. Here is some information from the ACA about chiropractic care and arthritis.
- Chiropractic for arthritis addresses the practical issue of getting the body to move more freely. Once the body is aligned to move with fewer restrictions, the need for pain-relieving medications lessens, or disappears altogether, says AltMD.com
- The basis for Chiropractic care is centered in the body’s ability to heal itself. By correcting joint and spine dislocations, a chiropractor helps increase range of motion in the body, which assists in movement. Chiropractic and its complementary treatments, which include nutrition and lifestyle choices such as exercise and massage therapy, can be used as a preventive measure in developing arthritis or to help relieve the serious mobility issues. Because Chiropractic focuses on physical manipulation, joints can be directly adjusted in order to reduce pain. In general, the stiffness and pain that can result from various forms of arthritis can be alleviated with chiropractic treatment. Once arthritis occurs does occur, chiropractic’s use of spinal manipulation can result in the diminishing of pain by assisting the overall physical health, resulting in greater ease of movement and decreased fluid build up in the joints that often accompanies arthritic conditions. The use of massage in chiropractic care can also ease stiffness and encourage movement. The application of heat and cold presses has been shown to ease arthritic pain. The use of electrical stimulation in chiropractic treatment is believed to stimulate pain-inhibiting chemicals in the human body, also known as endorphins, and block the nerve fibers that are responsible for pain. (source: AltMD.com)
- Chiropractors may want to help treat your arthritis with supplements. According to Livestrong.com, “hiropractors may recommend certain dietary supplements to help treat arthritis. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, arthritis is an inflammation of the tissue lining your joints. Common signs and symptoms associated with arthritis include redness, heat, pain and swelling. Although there are several types of arthritis, chiropractors usually treat patients with osteoarthritis. Before taking supplements to help treat your arthritis, talk with your chiropractor and doctors about proper dosage, possible side effects and potential drug interactions.”
Do your homework!
- Make sure before choosing a chiropractor that he or she is licensed and that they have a good reputation. Like anything, it is important that you do research and choose a chiropractor that comes highly recommend. As with any profession, there are both good and bad ones, and so it is vital for you to try and choose one who will have your health and your best interests at heart. Some websites may have a partial listing of chiropractors nationwide, or, ask a doctor or trusted friend for a recommendation.
- Some regions of the Arthritis Foundation often work with or parter with chiropractors or chiropractic practices, so contact your local AF office for their recommendations, too!
We would like to hear your stories about chiropractic treatment, so please leave a comment!
What’s YOUR weapon against arthritis?