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The Aches of Arthritis
December 3, 2012 - Dr. Greg Walsh
There are over one hundred different types of arthritis yet we tend to group them all together to label any joint stiffness that seems to be chronic in nature. However, there are several different treatments for each form, depending on the kind of arthritis an individual may be suffering from.
The arthritis that I wanted to talk about today is osteoarthritis. This is the most common form of arthritis and most commonly affects the knees and spine. Many patients have come into my office complaining of soreness in their neck or back and often I will suggest we take an X-ray of the area to help identify the cause of their problem. X-rays are one of the clearest ways to determine if somebody may be suffering from osteoarthritis and offer a wealth of information on the condition of one’s spine.
To better understand osteoarthritis, it is important to understand human anatomy. We each have twenty-four segments of our spine that move independently of one another called vertebrae. These segments form a bony tunnel that protects our spinal cord from damage, gives our body the support to sit or stand upright, and provides movement. The spine is truly one of the most important and dynamic parts of our body.
We have a series of natural curves along our spine that help our body absorb impact. When one of the segments of our spine gets stuck out of place, that segment begins to absorb more impact than it can handle and the innate intelligence of our internal systems recognizes the problem. To help out that misaligned segment, our bodies will begin to support the area by depositing bone building material at the site to make it stronger. If the area suffers for an extended amount of time, our bodies could deposit so much bony material on the joint that the bones literally fuse together through bony bridges!
You may be thinking that this added support sounds like a good thing, but in reality it can have a harsh impact on our health. You see, nerves branch off from our spinal cord and extend to every part of our body, but first they have to pass through tiny openings along the sides of our spine. If these openings begin to shrink because of the excess bone building up in the area, those nerves become compressed and the area becomes inflamed and irritated. This is when your neck or low back starts getting sore.
Regular chiropractic care can keep your spine aligned and prevent osteoarthritis from occurring. If you already suffer from osteoarthritis, chiropractic adjustments will help stop or slow the progression of your condition while taking away some of the pressure on the nerves in the affected area. Often your chiropractor can help you find ways to improve your posture or strengthen your core muscles to help support your spinal segments and keep arthritis at bay.
In severe cases, where there is simply no other way to get pressure off the nerves from the bony growth of the arthritis, surgical intervention may be necessary. Talk to your local chiropractor or health professional for specific advice on your condition so you can approach the source of the problem instead of continually masking the pain.
Questions or comments? Email Dr. Greg Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org
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