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What You Need to Know About Arthritis

The month of May is Arthritis Awareness Month, and it is very important that we address this very common, yet very damaging condition as health care providers.

Arthritis is one of the most common conditions affecting Americans, with an estimated 53 million people suffering.  People with commonWhat You Need to Know About Arthritis forms of arthritis such as degenerative arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis miss a total of 172 million workdays per year, resulting in an estimated $156 billion in lost wages and medical bills per year1.  Needless to say, it is a massive problem that affects many of the joints of the human body, especially the spine.

By definition, arthritis means inflammation of the joint.  In the case of degenerative arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis, these joints become stiff and swollen as we age.  Everyone’s joints will degenerate with time, but a sedentary lifestyle certainly contributes to an accelerated wearing down of these joints.  For this reason, movement is absolutely vital to maintaining our range of motion and overall function of these joints.  For extremity joints such as ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders, exercise is the best way to delay or slow down the onset of degenerative changes. The same is true for the spine, although chiropractic adjustments are best for maintaining optimum range of motion in the spine.  Combining the two is ideal, as it provides the spine with optimum motion, as well as core strength and flexibility as well.  Ultimately, that is a recipe for a long, independent life, in which you are able to do the things you want to do without being limited by the body.

There are other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, that fall into the category of inflammatory arthritides which are systemic and have measurable components in the blood that make them more rapidly debilitating than the slow, gradual wear and tear of joints that we see with degenerative arthritides such as osteoarthritis. There is no cure for these conditions, and while movement is very important to help maintain joint health, in these cases pharmacological intervention is often necessary to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Arthritis affects so many people, but there are many people who can be helped, too! By encouraging people to exercise more, we can buck the trend of increasing rates of arthritis in this country and make a difference. Contact the Springfield Wellness Center if you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help with arthritis and movement!

 

-Dr. Pat

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