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Arthritis and Chiropractic

A Systemic Disease

Arthritis is not really a joint disease, but a disease of the whole body that is dramatically seen in the joints. Diseases that affect the whole body are called systemic diseases. Arthritis is a systemic disease. Let’s use an example to demonstrate:

There’s a deficiency disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. Remember the name from health class? It’s scurvy. One of the symptoms is the teeth begin to fall out because vitamin C helps make the ‘glue’ that keeps them in place.

You’d think a scurvy sufferer had a dental condition, but that would be incorrect. No matter what a dentist did, the teeth would continue to fall out unless the cause of the problem, the vitamin C deficiency, was corrected.

It’s the same with arthritis. The best way to deal with arthritis is to deal with the real cause of what’s making the body function improperly. The poor joints are just the most obvious of the disease.

A Common Ailment

When many people think of an arthritis sufferer they see a bent over old person with gnarled hands, moving with tiny steps or who is in a wheelchair. However very few people with arthritis are crippled. Many arthritics may have the condition for many years, even decades and never know it.

Types of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA)
OA, also called degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis and hypertrophic arthritis is the most common arthritis of all. Sometimes patients, when shown their X-ray will be told by the doctor “Oh, here we a little arthritis on the bone. Don’t be concerned, it’s very common, most people have a little.”

Well, it’s true, osteoarthritis, or OA, affects over 40 million Americans. In fact almost everyone over the age of 40 has a touch of it. One text says: “It is almost as inevitable a concomitant of aging as graying of the hair.” But it isn’t completely benign. In many people it causes pain and in some causes partial or even total incapacitation.

OA is considered the result of too much wear and tear or stress on the joints. The lipping and spurring (bone growths) which are the signs of OA may be a body defense – the body is trying to strengthen an area by building up more bone.

Recent research has shown that chiropractic care can reverse some of the effects of osteoarthritis – something which had been previously considered impossible.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
This is ia a true arthrotide in that there is joint inflammation. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own defense mechanisms turn and attack the synovial membrane of joint spaces.

It can destroy joints, and, may also affect the heart, blood vessels, lungs, eyes, skin, muscles, and other organs. It’s accompanied by fatigue, weight loss and acute pain. It often appears suddenly, mostly in women in their 40s or 50s.

No one seems to know what causes it or why some recover and others do not. The best chiropractic or medical care can provide is physical therapy, manipulation, hot water baths and medication for the pain and inflammation.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
This is similar to adult rheumatoid arthritis except it occurs in children. The differences are that in over half the cases the disease simply disappears and only in less than one – sixth of the cases is there severs disability. Other organs can be affected, plus high fever, rash and pain in the joints. Again, no one knows its cause, cure, treatment, how it comes about or why it disappears in so many cases. Like adult RA, it has been described as due to a problem with the immunological system. It is being linked by some to childhood immunizations.

Some Other Types of Arthritis

Ankylosing Spondylitis or Marie-Strumpell disease…
is a form of rheumatoid arthritis that usually affects the spine.

This condition gained some chiropractic fame when a researcher analyzed the complete skeleton of a victim of this disease and proved that the person’s spinal column had severe spinal misalignments in life that were preserved in death in their fused joints.

Gout is an arthritis characterized by chemical crystals deposited in the large toe but it can spread to other joints.

Traditional Treatment

There is no cure for arthritis, just palliative a lifetime of taking medications to treat its symptoms. Physical therapy and chiropractic can help by keeping joints flexible. If a joint becomes severely deteriorated then surgery may be considered.

Arthritis Drugs

Arthritis drugs are a double edge sword. Aspirin, while it may reduce pain, stiffness and inflammation often requires eight to 24 tablets a day and can cause stomach irritation, bleeding and ulcers. Nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) such as Indocin, Advil and Naprosyn may reduce stiffness and restore joint mobility, but can cause kidney impairment, irritation and hemorrhage of the esophagus, stomach, duodenum and small intestine and costs four to five times as much as aspirin. Approximately 10,000 arthritic sufferers die every year from the gastrointestinal complications of various arthritis drugs.


Steroids such as Prednisone and Hydrocortisone Phosphate can give relief, but may temporarily cause increased pain, and with prolonged use may cause thinning and weakening of the bones. Gold Salts are effective against inflammation, but may cause skin rashes and mouth ulcers.

Robert Mendelsohn, M.D. cautions people to be wary of new arthritis drugs, “If you rush to take it, do so with full knowledge that you are being a guinea pig. The longer a drug is on the market, the more will be known about its side effects…”
In April, 1982 this occurred when Oraflex went on the market. It was removed from the market in August of that year by its manufacturer, Eli Lily, after 73 deaths form the drug were reported.

Can Chiropractic help?

Research has shown that most patients with rheumatoid arthritis have severe spinal misalignments. Another study showed that nearly 90% of osteoarthritis sufferers improved under chiropractic care. Many other studies have shown the benefit of spinal adjustments for arthritis sufferers.


Although chiropractic does not address itself to specific disease treatments, its philosophy teaches us to respect and work with the natural wisdom of the body and to improve our own health by removing interference’s to normal body function.

Along with removing spinal nerve stress, you may need to change you eating habits, lose weight, quit smoking, exercise and deal with emotional stress differently. Search out the most natural, conservative methods before submitting to more dangerous care.

A Piece Of The Puzzle

Chiropractic spinal care supplies a missing piece to the puzzle that makes up the picture of health. There are other puzzle pieces, no one healing art has all the answers to your unique needs. Nutrition, exercise, rest, emotional care, along with a healthy spine, are all vital for optimal well-being. Explore them all. They are all part of our life’s quest for happiness and fulfillment.