Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Over 52 million people in the United States are currently suffering from arthritis. While there are actually more than 100 different types of arthritis, one of the most common is rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In fact, at this very moment, almost 2 million patients are struggling with the disease.
If you’re one of those 2 million, you’ve likely tried a plethora of over-the-counter medications, injections, and home remedies for treatment. But have you tried chiropractic? 95 percent of past-year chiropractic users agree that its soothing treatments are effective at treating pain and inflammation.
Discover what chiropractic treatment can mean for your RA symptoms.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as an autoimmune disease. A properly functioning immune system identifies, attacks, and disables foreign substances in the body, such as viruses and bacteria. However, in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system sees the body’s joints as the foreign substance and responds by attacking them.
This attack causes an inflammatory response in the joint lining, also called synovium, as well as in the surrounding cartilage and tissue. Repeated inflammation in the joints can cause pain, swelling, and degenerative degradation. When left unchecked, affected joints can become loose over time, ultimately becoming unstable and losing mobility. When a joint reaches this stage it can become deformed, causing damage which cannot be reversed.
While many believe arthritis to be a disease developed only by seniors, that could not be farther from the truth. RA symptoms generally begin to appear between the ages of 19 and 60, and some cases are present even in toddlers. RA most commonly affects women more than men.
Understanding the Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints, which results in stiffness, tenderness, and weakness in the joints and surrounding muscles. The onset of RA typically affects the joints the farthest from the spine first, such as the fingers, hands, wrists, and ankles. A symptom unique to RA is that it affects joints symmetrically, meaning it will affect both hands, both wrists, or both ankles.
Rheumatoid arthritis can be tricky to diagnose because while some patients may experience moderate symptoms with occasional flare-ups, others have symptoms for a few months or years which then go away. There are also patients with severe RA who continuously experience symptoms, and are in constant pain for years.
Rheumatoid arthritis is generally characterized by:
- Joints that feel swollen, tender, and warm.
- Prolonged stiffness and pain lasting more than 30 minutes.
- A sense of malaise or fever.
- Symmetrical symptoms such as pain in both wrists.
Chiropractic Care for Rheumatoid Arthritis
In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, treatment objectives are simple: reduce pain and inflammation in the joints, improve range of motion, and improve communication in the body. With an autoimmune disease such as RA, nervous system communication is of the utmost importance. The central nervous system (CNS) controls the function of every system and organ in the body, including the immune system.
When the immune system isn’t functioning properly, such as with an autoimmune disease, assuring that there is no interference or blockage present in the CNS is paramount. Removing any present blockages decreases the chances of additional stressors exacerbating RA symptoms. This is where a chiropractor comes in.
Chiropractic adjustments support proper functioning of the nervous system by removing subluxations in the spine that could be interrupting nerve flow. This helps to strengthen the immune system, protecting it against unnecessary stressors. Plus, keeping your body aligned will not only help you to move more freely, but also reduce your need for pain management medications you may have already been prescribed.
Benefits of Joint Manipulation
Patients with RA frequently struggle with decreased range of motion, especially as symptoms progress. While chiropractors are most notably known for chiropractic adjustments of the back, which target the vertebrae of the spine, joint manipulation on the extremities is equally as important. Manipulation helps to minimize joint restrictions and restore movement.
When proper motion is restored to the joints, proper nervous system functioning is supported. This means that in addition to an influx of nerve energy, the joint will also receive an increase in blood flow. This process helps to decrease the inflammation process, bringing down the swelling and stiffness of the joint. The anti-inflammatory and soothing benefits of chiropractic can greatly improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Complementary Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
Highly trained in all matters of the musculoskeletal system, chiropractors are here to help in more areas than one. While joint manipulation and chiropractic adjustments can form the basis of your rheumatoid arthritis treatment, at ChiroCare of Florida we offer additional soothing and anti-inflammatory therapies to effectively treat RA symptoms.
While visiting the ChiroCare of Florida office, our knowledgeable chiropractors also fight inflammation and pain with top of the line, cutting-edge treatments. In addition to our manual adjustments and lifestyle guidance, our chiropractors offer rheumatoid arthritis treatment including:
- Cryotherapy: The freezing temperatures of cryotherapy chambers cause the body to send messages to the brain that stimulate natural regulatory functions, including the release of anti-inflammatory molecules, endorphins, and toxins.
- Ultrasound:This soothing therapy uses ultrasound waves to penetrate deep into the tissue, causing a warming sensation that helps reduce swelling and decrease pain and stiffness.
- Electric Stimulation (E-Stim):This technology delivers brief, painless electrical pulses which cause a muscle to contract and relax. This results in a state of fatigue that reduces inflammation in the muscles, joints, and ligaments.
- Laser Therapy: Laser therapy improves blood circulation and targets swelling at the sight of inflammation to block pain signals at the source.
Chiropractic addresses the body as a whole, as opposed to masking individual symptoms. This means that your chiropractor will help you to not just cover up your symptoms, but to make active changes that will help manage your condition. Your lifestyle, diet, and exercise habits have a direct impact on your whole body as well. Poor habits can exacerbate rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. A chiropractor can provide nutrition and diet advice, including which supplements could potentially aid in fighting inflammation.
Likewise, a chiropractor can work with you to develop an exercise program that can help to maintain joint’s range of motion as well potentially even restore some lost range of motion. Using strategically designed exercise plans tailored to your RA progression, a chiropractor can help to improve flexibility and endurance, as well as increase muscle tone and strength.
Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Right for You?
Generally speaking, chiropractic treatment is safe, trusted, and effective. However, not all individuals with rheumatoid arthritis are automatic candidates for chiropractic adjustments or joint manipulation. One of the most infamous side effects of some RA medications is the deterioration of bones, including spinal vertebrae. It is possible the aggressive manipulation of vertebrae which have lost bone density could result in fractures.
For this reason, each initial visit at ChiroCare of Florida begins with a detailed medical history and physical examination of every joint. This allows our chiropractors to determine which approaches are right for you. Even without adjustments, the soothing therapies and lifestyle guidance of a chiropractor can help to lessen RA symptoms as well as dependency from pain management medication.
If you’ve been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, take life back into your own hands. Fight back against painful inflammation and stiffness today. Contact ChiroCare of Florida to make an appointment at one of our 11 offices throughout South Florida. We look forward to getting started with your rheumatoid arthritis treatment.