Arthritis: A Springfield, IL Chiropractor’s Approach

arthritis care in Springfield IL

Arthritis is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders in the world. In the U.S., close to 1 in 4 adults have been diagnosed with some type of arthritis. It tends to affect females more than males; however, lifestyle factors play a significant role in its prevalence. Generally speaking, if you are in good health and exercise regularly, your chances of developing arthritis are much lower, especially for developing it earlier in life. Age also plays a role; the older you get, the more likely you will develop arthritis or that the arthritis you do have will progressively worsen. 

Your weight also has a significant say in whether or not you develop arthritis, with it being much more likely to occur if you are overweight or obsese. This is due to the increased weight-bearing load on the joints over time, which causes the joints to wear down at a quicker rate.  For example, for every pound overweight that you are, it adds four pounds of stress to your knee joints. It is no wonder why knee replacement surgery is one of the most common procedures performed in the U.S year after year.

So, what exactly is arthritis? In simple terms, arthritis means inflammation of a joint. This can cause swelling, redness, pain, and limited range of motion in this joint. Generally speaking, arthritis falls into two main categories: degenerative arthritis and inflammatory arthritis. Arthritis can affect any joint in the body – where two bones come together. Typically, there are certain joints more commonly affected by arthritis. Hips, knees, shoulders, and spinal joints tend to become arthritic because they are joints that involve a lot of weight-bearing movement and force.

The medical model treats arthritis in a number of different ways. From more conservative measures such as anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy to more invasive measures like injections or surgery. This is usually the journey arthritis patients will find themselves on as they navigate their diagnosis. There are, however, other more natural, conservative measures available to help maximize function and improve quality of life. At the Springfield Wellness Center, we have a range of services to help decrease pain, improve mobility, and get you back to living the life that you want to live. By addressing the root cause and not just masking symptoms, our patients are able to get the most out of their care and live with more independence.

How We Treat Arthritis in Springfield, IL

Consultation and Thorough Examination

As a new patient at the Springfield Wellness Center, your first visit will begin with a detailed consultation. It is important for our doctors to understand you and how this condition has affected your life. In this manner, they want to hear your story in your own words. This helps them understand the activities you are having difficulty with or are no longer able to do, including things you really enjoy. Ultimately, our mission is to get you back to doing those things that make you happy. Your provider will ask you several questions about your history and symptoms, which will help them make the correct clinical decisions regarding your care.

After the consultation, the doctor will do a thorough exam to evaluate your condition. They will perform various orthopedic, neurologic, functional movement, and chiropractic exams to accurately diagnose your condition. It may be necessary for the doctor to refer you out for imaging such as an X-ray to evaluate the problem further. All of this information will be reported back to you in the follow-up appointment, along with the doctor’s recommendations for care.

Specific Chiropractic Care in Springfield, IL

When it comes to arthritis, we are talking about a progressive condition that gets worse over time. The reality is that our joints are made to move, which is especially true for the spine. To remain healthy, adequately sized, and filled with nutrients, our discs require movement; without it, our discs dry out and begin to shrink. Our spine needs movement to maintain spinal joint and disc health, and chiropractic care is one of the best ways to provide that movement. 

Chiropractic adjustments correct misalignments in the spine through quick hand movements made by the chiropractor. These movements help restore motion, realign the spine, and alleviate pain. If you have arthritis in other joints such as hips or knees, chiropractic adjustments to these areas can also provide more mobility and decrease pain. Overall, chiropractic is an effective, natural method to relieve pain and optimize the function of arthritic joints.

Custom Therapeutic Exercise

Because movement is paramount to improving your arthritis, exercise will be a staple of your care at the Springfield Wellness Center. When it comes to arthritis, if you don’t use it, you lose it. If you don’t keep your joints moving, they will get stiffer and more difficult to perform simple movements, if they can even be performed at all. This can be very frustrating and disappointing as people start to miss out on the things that bring them joy.

Exercise forces joints to remain mobile and keeps them healthier. Weight-bearing exercises help strengthen bones and joints alike. If this type of exercise is not possible, other less strenuous exercises can still benefit the joints. Outside of our office, another great way to exercise in low-force conditions is by doing something like water aerobics in a pool. Whatever suits you best, just do it! And do it consistently, as that is the key to achieving the best outcomes for yourself.

Spinal Decompression in Springfield, IL

In the spine, arthritis has a unique presentation that involves narrowing the disc space and hypertrophy (enlargement) of some of the joints in the posterior region. Together, these changes have the potential to cause great pain for patients, as they can both decrease the size of the hole from which nerves emerge from the spine. One of the best ways to help open up this space and give the joints some room to breathe is spinal decompression. At the Springfield Wellness Center, we can perform both neck and low back decompression depending on your specific issue. When combined with chiropractic care, spinal decompression can help unlock the spine and improve mobility and function.

Deep Tissue Laser Therapy

Swelling and inflammation are cornerstones of most, if not all, arthritic conditions. This fluid accumulation can cause pain, tightness, limited mobility, and all-around discomfort in the affected joint. One of the best ways to combat inflammation in joints is through deep tissue laser therapy, featured at the Springfield Wellness Center. Deep tissue laser uses red light technology to penetrate deep into the joint to stimulate the cells to produce energy. This energy helps reduce inflammation and speeds up the healing process inside the joint so you can feel better faster. This treatment is combined with others such as chiropractic and exercise to help provide specific relief to the affected joint.

Common Types of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis

Also known as “Degenerative Joint Disease” or DJD, osteoarthritis is arguably the most common type of arthritis. This condition usually affects only one side or the other, as inside only one knee instead of affecting both equally as other arthritides might. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage layers that line the bones of a joint are wearing away or have worn away, which decreases the spacing of the joint. This causes limited range of motion and can be more painful to perform certain movements such as going up or down stairs. It is commonly seen in the spine, hips, and knees but can be found elsewhere. Mobility exercises and adjustments are great ways to help keep the joint spacing open and preserve your range of motion for as long as possible.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This condition is an “inflammatory arthritide” and is a systemic condition, meaning it can affect the whole body. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, meaning the body’s immune system attacks normal healthy joints, causing red, hot, swollen joints on both sides of the body. RA is commonly managed with medications, but there are many alternatives to these conventional treatments to ease arthritis symptoms. Chiropractic and laser therapy can be effective at reducing inflammation and decreasing pain. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can also help keep inflammation levels down, so they are not as bothersome to the joints.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is another type of inflammatory arthritis that affects joints in a similar way that rheumatoid arthritis does. This type of arthritis is linked to psoriasis, a condition that classically causes skin scales and pitted fingernails. Another classic sign of psoriatic arthritis is “sausage fingers” due to their swollen, bloated appearance. There is no cure for PA, but it can be managed effectively through diet, exercise, and chiropractic care.

Gout

Yet another inflammatory arthritide is called Gout, which also causes red, hot, swollen joints. However, gout usually only affects one joint at a time, most commonly the big toe. The body produces uric acid as it breaks down a substance known as purines. Too much uric acid will lead to gout.  Foods high in purines include red meats and seafood, so it is best to limit your consumption of these, especially during a flare. Alcohol is another known substance that negatively affects gout. Managing diet and exercise is the best way to control this very painful condition.

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)

It is important to understand that arthritis doesn’t just affect adults. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is the most common type of arthritis that affects children. Previously known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, this condition can be very painful and cause swelling, inflammation, stiffness, fever, and other uncomfortable symptoms. If left unmanaged, JIA can cause permanent damage to affected joints. Managing this case with a pediatric rheumatologist is essential to control the problem before permanent damage occurs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a chiropractor good for arthritis in Springfield, IL?

Yes, chiropractic is a great way to help manage arthritis. This condition affects joints, and joints are made to move. Chiropractic is one of the few specialties in healthcare that is actually hands-on and helps move these joints in the way they are supposed to. Proper movement can decrease pain, improve range of motion, and lead to a better quality of life.

Does chiropractic make arthritis worse?

Absolutely not! If anything, chiropractic makes arthritis better because it alleviates the pain and stiffness associated with this progressive condition. No matter how arthritic your joints are, you can benefit from chiropractic and improved joint motion. It is what our joints are meant to do!

What is better for arthritis pain, heat or cold?

Cold would be the better choice for arthritic joint pain, as it can reduce swelling and inflammation in the joint. Although comforting to surrounding muscles, heat can draw more fluid and inflammation to the site and perhaps make the arthritis symptoms temporarily worse, so it is best to stick with cold when specifically treating an arthritic joint.

What is the best treatment for arthritis in the lower back?

Many different things can help arthritis in the lower back. Chiropractic care, exercise, spinal decompression, and laser are four fantastic ways to reduce inflammation, decrease pain, and improve mobility. They can’t reverse arthritis, but they can slow down or halt its progression, which is incredibly valuable for living a more independent and happy life.

Does cracking your back give you arthritis?

“Popping joints will cause arthritis” is a common myth we all heard growing up. Joints release gas and move more freely all the time due to normal body movements. Yes, it’s not the best idea to force your joints into positions to make them pop, but this is not how arthritis develops in the body. So no, cracking the back does not give you arthritis.