Dr Pete

Discussion on Arthritis

Learn about what causes arthritis, tips for treatment, and how to prevent it

From our Live with Dr Pete Series on Instagram, Dr. Pete answers some commonly asked questions about chiropractic care.

Below are these questions from this session:

The first and most important thing to understand is that there are different types of arthritis. There is inflammatory, there is degenerative, there's osteoarthritis, there’s autoimmune, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Today specifically since we are talking about chiropractic treatments. We will talk about osteoarthritis which is the wear and tear on the joints in the body. First and foremost

Who gets arthritis?

It doesn’t start in young kids, it typically starts in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50’s and so on. I started having arthritis symptoms in my teen years, maybe early 20’s that is when i saw it on an x-ray. At this point in my life I have massive bone spurs in my neck, yet I have full range of motion. We don’t treat x-rays, we treat people, that is really important to know.

How does arthritis happen?

With arthritis is that it's a gentle wear and tear on the joint. It's not because you had an accident and slipped and fell. #1 factor is gravity and we can’t get away from that. We are using our joints against gravity everyday all day and they just start to wear down. But again slips and falls, bad posture, car accidents, sports injuries, too much time at the desk hunching over, can all cause arthritis.

Should I take an anti-inflammatory?

A lot of people then think they should then just take an anti-inflammatory, but that’s not how it works. It’s not an overnight problem, it happens over time. What happens is when the body starts compensating for it around the joints are working harder to stabilize it. Your body starts to change the shape of the bone, your bones become rough or sharpened or flat or hooked, and when they don’t function right it causes the body to work harder which causes things to be tight. In the spine, the discs have a name when there is arthritis in their discs, called degenerative discs disease. As we age we start to lose water from our discs and this is why as we age we get shorter, this is why grandpa wears his pants so high. That is what degenerative discs disease means, it doesn’t mean bulging or herniated, it is that the disc gets thinner and smaller. 

Back to our joints, osteoarthritis is not true inflammation, what happens is the muscles and ligaments are working harder all the time so the body releases the pain chemicals. All that taking an anti-inflammatory does is block the pain receptors, it doesn’t take care of the problem. What we really have more is congestion which is the pain chemical sitting there in the muscles. Imagine going to the gym all day every day and how sore you would be, that is what happens with osteoarthritis. 

How do we identify if a patient has osteoarthritis?

We check the range of motion in the different joints and then there is also x-rays. Just because someone has osteoarthritis in an x-ray doesn’t mean that they have any pain. 

How do we treat osteoarthritis?

Treatment is we want to get the muscles loosened up so that the joints are moving better. Examples: massage therapy heat and stretching before the adjustments. The adjustments and manipulation put just enough movement and force into the joint to get them to move properly again. We get the joints un-stuck and moving in the proper position again. This will build the endurance and strength of the muscles around the joint. Usually 3-4 weeks is when the arthritis will start to kick in again. 

How do I prevent it? 

Don’t be a couch potato, if you don’t use it you lose it. The problem is once you have it sometimes you can’t do the activities that you once used to do like exercise. If you need to lose weight it can inhibit exercise because of pain in your joints. With chiropractic you can help relieve pain from working out so that you can continue to do the things you need to do to stay healthy. It helps to have more tools in your tool box. Regular adjustments will help with keeping chronic arthritis under control.