Arthritis is the single biggest cause of disability in New Zealand and more than 500,000 New Zealanders will be affected by it at some point during their lifetime. It is an umbrella term used to refer to a number of different musculoskeletal conditions involving inflammation of joints that in turn causes pain, stiffness, disability and deformity. Such effects may be having a significant impact on your daily life but there are natural measures you can take to reduce symptom severity or prevent disease progression.
As the population ages, the number of people experiencing arthritis is also growing. However a lot of people think that arthritis is only related to the process of ageing however the fact is that 2 out of 3 people with arthritis are aged between fifteen to sixty years old. There are over one hundred different arthritic conditions however the most commonly recognised are listed below:
– Osteoarthritis – a progressive disorder in the joints caused by gradual wear and tear of the cartilage resulting in cysts and bony spurs
– Rheumatoid Arthritis – a chronic autoimmune disease involving inflammation and deformity of joints
– Gout – a disease involving defective metabolism of uric acid that then builds up within the joints, especially those in the feet
– Ankylosing spondylitis – an inflammatory arthritis affecting the spine
– Juvenile arthritis – diagnosed in children
– Systemic Lupus Erythematosus – an inflammatory disease involving joint pain, fatigue, rash and fever as a result of the immune system attacking its own tissues
– Scleroderma – a disease that results in the hardening and tightening of skin and connective tissues
Some of the major contributing factors to symptom severity and disease are:
As we commonly talk about in practice, stress can come in many forms – physical, chemical and emotional. But whatever the type of stress your body is encountering, if it exceeds your body’s resilience and becomes chronic, then unhelpful inflammatory processes can go unchecked in the body
Poor gut health
Overgrowth of pathogenic or bad bacteria, and/or a lack of the beneficial bacteria has been linked to certain types of arthritis. “Leaky gut” – where the permeability of the gut lining causes a hyperactive immune response can also lead to widespread inflammation in the body.
Overweight or Obesity
Additional body fat can strain joints, but the accumulated fat cells themselves can also cause further problems to joints that are already sensitive and partially damaged. Fat is active tissue that creates and releases hormones and chemicals promoting further inflammation.
Lack of physical activity not only leads to stiffness within the joints, but incorrect or altered movement patterns also change the way your brain and body communicate with each other, leading to de-conditioned muscles and further joint problems.
HOW DOES CHIROPRACTIC HELP PREVENT OR MANAGE ARTHRITIS?
As stated above, one of the most common types of arthritis, “osteoarthritis”, is the degeneration of the structures around the joint due to wear and tear. If joints are structurally balanced in terms of their alignment and movement then the wear and tear is less likely to occur. Chiropractic adjustments also improve your brain’s understanding of what is happening within and around the joint so that it can then organise and control your posture and movement in the most appropriate way so that you can keep up with life’s demands. In the case of those people already experiencing the effects of degenerative joints, it is vital to ensure correct movement, alignment and optimal brain-body communication to prevent disease progression.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?
The most effective help comes from looking at the body as a whole rather than just the inflamed and painful joints. Our holistic approach at Chiropractic Balance takes this into account. Some tips you can easily implement are:
– Eating an anti-inflammatory diet (eating lots of nature-based foods and limiting your intake of processed of GMO foods, farmed fish, conventionally raised meat and eggs, wheat/gluten, refined oils and sugars, cheap supplements).
– Reducing your stress levels where possible (adequate sleep, mindfulness or meditation, connect with nature, surround yourself with a support system of family/friends/health consultants)
– Getting enough sunshine – the vitamin D from sunshine heps prevent many inflammatory conditions
– Move your body – after your chiropractic check to ensure your body is working as it was designed to go for a walk or run or participate in a local team sport. The stretches your chiropractor gives you also support ideal mobility so that you can better stay in balance between your chiropractic visits.
If you have any further questions about how we might be able to help you or your loved ones, don’t hesitate to ask next time you’re in.