Arthritis will at some point affect all of us. It is a degenerative process that takes place in all of the joints of the body including the joints of the spine. Arthritis in the spine is especially problematic because the spine has to support the weight of your body and also because much of our nervous system is supported and protected by the spine. There are two main types: rheumatoid arthritis. and osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis affects younger people and basically involves your immune system attacking your joints. There have been new medications produced that are effective against the condition, but unfortunately they may also compromise your immune system to some extent. This condition tends to be chronic and can last your entire life. Inflammation over time eats away at the cartilage surfaces in your joints. Fortunately it is not that common. That having been said, both of my wife’s parents contracted this condition. In other words, it is not extremely rare either.
Osteoarthritis unlike rheumatoid is associated with ageing of the joints (especially joints that have had injuries). Another name for osteoarthritis is degenerative joint disease or DJD. Unless otherwise specified the general term “arthritis” is generally a reference to Osteoarthritis since it is far more common. Trauma to the joints causes inflammation. Often as the joint heals the inflammation subsides. For some reason sometimes it does not. Over time the chronic swelling in the joint will cause erosion of the joint. This process can be self limiting. This means that at times the progression might slow down.
What happens? What happens when we get arthritis in the spine?
- Bone Spurs form. Bony ridges form on the edges of the vertebrae. This can be a problem because as these ridges grow, (a process referred to as lipping and spurring) the spinal canal narrows. When the canal narrows it is referred to as stenosis.
- Cartilage shrinks. As the cartilage becomes damaged the cells that grow and produce the cartilage die off. As a result the cartilage loses it’s ability to renew itself. Over time this will cause the joints of the spine to shrink in size.
- Scar tissue infiltrates. As the healthy cartilage tissue dies off, it is replaced by scar tissue. This is the Band-Aid that your body uses for any injury. Small cells called fibroblasts are designed to repair soft tissue. The repair job is done with collagen and this material is that which we associate with scars.
- Joints stiffen especially in the morning. As a result of the spur and scar tissue formation the mobility of the joints is compromised. Shrinking of the cartilage as well as scar deposits also serve to stiffen the joints. Inflammation that builds up during the night causes stiffness in the morning. Movement disperses the fluid pressure.
Treating Arthritis: Here at Bennett Family Chiropractic we help you fight back against arthritis. Manipulation can naturally restore some of the lost mobility in the joints. When the joints are moving more freely, the inflammatory fluid pressure can be lessened. Flexion distraction of the spine (done in our office) not only helps to break up scar tissue, it also helps to hydrate the joints. This provides for healthier cartilage. A controlled regimen of anti-inflammatory medication in conjunction with regular exercise and chiropractic manipulation can help rejuvenate ageing joints to their previous splendor.
Early intervention is the key to this process. Let’s face it, if a spinal joint is totally obliterated by arthritis it is past the point of no return, much like a knee or hip that needs replacement. If on the other hand we are working with joints that have mild arthritis, there’s more that we can accomplish. Regarding exercise, walking is probably your best bet. It’s easy and requires no equipment. Consult with me before choosing an exercise program for arthritis to make sure the plan you pick is right for you.
Contact Us: If you have any questions regarding this blog don’t hesitate to contact Dr. George Bennett DC, 2193 Riverton Rd., Cinnaminson – 08077. Our contact information can be found right here in our website – drgeorgebennettdc.com under the heading “Contact”. Call us or write us and come back often as we will regularly try to update our blog. Thanks for visiting and see you soon.