It is estimated that as many as 46 million Americans are afflicted with arthritis, with experts expecting the number to increase over the next two decades as the population ages. The disease is the leading cause of disability in the United States and its cost to the health care system is approximately $128 billion every year. More than half of adults who have diabetes and heart disease also report having arthritis. The good news is that chiropractic treatments combined with other lifestyle choices can help manage the condition.
Arthritis attacks the joints in the hands, knees, feet, hips, and spine causing swelling, pain, stiffness, and loss of function. The most common form of the disease is called osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition that generally manifests as people get older. It can also result following a physical injury that damaged the joints.
Another common form of the disease is rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that most commonly affects the wrist and fingers and tends to attack women more than men. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as some other forms of the disease, is still unknown. But researchers have identified factors that might contribute to the condition including genetics, environmental risks, and endocrine system dysfunction.
Lupus is also categorized as a form of autoimmune arthritis, where the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive, attacking healthy tissue. Specifically, the immune system cannot tell the difference between antigens and healthy tissue so it attacks both. Symptoms include swelling and inflammation leading to organ and joint damage.
Arthritis isn’t only a disease of adults. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, also known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis in children under 16. Some children may experience symptoms for only a few months, while others have the condition for the rest of their lives. The exact cause of JIA is unknown—although genetics and environment both seem to play a role—but researchers believe it’s an autoimmune disease. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis in adults, juvenile idiopathic arthritis affects large joints like knees, wrists, and ankles more than small joints. Typical symptoms include: warmth or tenderness in the joints, stiffness when moving and limited range of motion, and swelling.
If juvenile idiopathic arthritis is not treated properly, the child’s growth and development can be negatively impacted.
For both adults and children afflicted with arthritis, chiropractic physical manipulations can help manage pain and stiffness, and maintain range of motion. Ask your chiropractor about other related wellness programs to help control the condition such as nutrition, exercise, and massage therapy.