Mary’s hands hurt and some times more than others, depending on how much she does things with her hands. She is wondering what type of arthritis she has. Arthritis is a word with two parts: Arthro meaning joint and ‘itis’ that is used to describe the process of inflammation in some part of the body. So arthritis is an inflammation of the joint, any joint and it can be caused by a number of things.
Three most common types of arthritis are:
- Osteo – a mechanical problem (over use aspects)
- Rheumatoid – an autoimmune disorder (genetic)
- Gouty – uric acid crystals in the joint
Unless the correct form of arthritis is identified the treatment will not be very effective. Medically, since they offer only chemical solutions, the MDs will focus on the inflammation since they prefer to prescribe anti inflammatory medications. The underlying problem is not improved so there is no long-term improvements with medicine only approach.
Solutions are very straight forward and many can be done by individuals themselves; so in reverse order:
Gouty Arthritis is caused by over eating protein foods (meats, fish, soy, shellfish, etc.) so the solution is to reduce the over consumption of these foods to about eight (8) oz. of protein per day and drink 2-3 liters of water per day to dilute the crystals already in the body.
Rheumatoid Arthritis responds best to medications but natural therapies can extend the overall results. Exercise (walking, aquatic exercises, yoga, tai chi) helps. Physical therapy (heat, ice, EMS, range-of-motion exercises, etc.) a couple times a week for a few weeks here and there; or biofeedback. Fish oil can ease pain and inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis. A 15-minute hot bath or shower can help you relax and soothe painful joints; or warm wax bath of hands. Acupuncture can trigger the body to release endorphins, “feel-good” hormones, and reduce pain. Also massage and rest can help.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and due to the simple fact the we work and live our lives in many ways that it is unavoidable that joints will be over exerted or injured (macro and micro types). Ligaments that keep a joint tight can be sprained and as they heal may remain loose and this adds instability to weight bearing joints. Hands experience over use by things we do repetitively (computers, hobbies, certain occupations) and the joints that are affected just never heal completely and stay inflamed, swell and the pressure causes pain.
Mechanical problems typically need a mechanical solution so massage, mild long-axis tractioning of the affected fingers works extremely well to restore some fluids in the joint and break down scar tissue formation around the joint. Ice is a natural anti-inflammatory and works especially well for weight bearing joints of the knee and spine. Typically the spine requires 30 minute ice application at least twice per day when pain is daily. Extremities need only 20 minute ice applications twice per day to reduce the swelling, inflammation and pain.
For people who are uncomfortable with the regular medicate-everything-approach, they will be pleased how well prepared their local Doctor of Chiropractic is in evaluating and resolving everyday arthritis problems. A consultation will determine if there needs to be co-management with other disciplines in your situation.
A chiropractic check-up is an excellent and smart starting point when arthritis is the principal complaint.
Yours in Health,