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We often hear the term arthritis used in a very generic sense. But did you know that there are many different types of arthritis? Each has their own specific symptoms, manifestations of the disease, and treatments.

Rheumatoid arthritis or RA is actually an autoimmune disorder.  Unlike osteoarthritis which is more of a wearing down at joints, in RA the body’s immune system sees our own tissues as foreign and attacks them like it would a bacteria that didn’t belong in our bodies.  This process creates inflammation in the lining of our joints that affects many regions of the body.  It is commonly found in the wrists/hands, as well as other joints.  It can affect regions of the spine, especially the neck and the ligaments that support it.  People with RA often exhibit symptoms like pain and swelling in the joints (especially the hands and feet), stiffness in joints when they wake up, even numbness and tingling in their hands.

RA is a disease process that is frequently treated with medications to decrease the amount of inflammation in the joints.  This is done to not only relieve pain but to hopefully slow down the process that can permanently damage the bones and joints themselves.  But conservative chiropractic care can also be used to maintain optimal joint function as well as address other musculoskeletal issues that arise.

Chiropractic adjustments – The main focus of chiropractic care is to restore proper function and motion to the spine and any other joint in the body.  The adjustment is done for exactly that purpose.  The great thing about chiropractic is that we have many different types of adjusting including instument-assisted (like Activator) and SOT that use less force and may be more appropriate for patients with RA.  Care must taken especially with the neck region as the strength of important ligaments can be reduced in the RA process.

In addition to maintaining as much joint mobility as possible, chiropractic care can include ultrasound therapy which can reduce inflammation in joints.  We also take a holistic approach to diet and can provide nutritional counseling that focuses on natural foods and supplements that are known to reduce inflammation.

At Live Well Chiropractic and Pilates Center, we can also provide other services which can be used to manage pain including acupuncture.  Our pilates classes can and are modified to provide a safe and gentle form of movement within the limits of the patient’s condition.  This allows those suffering with RA to support their overal wellness and maintain as much motion within their joints as possible.

The symptoms of RA can be found with many other conditions, so its important that you speak to your chiropractor if you are experiencing them, especially if you have a family history of RA.  Blood tests can reveal specific markers associated with the disease.  Additionally, x-rays often reveal the skeletal changes that are the hallmark signs of the disease.

Knowledge is our ultimate weapon in maintaining our health.  If diagnosed with RA, you will most likely be referred to a Rheumatologist for medical care.  But your chiropractor can be an invaluable asset in the effort to keep your body moving its best!