Growing older is an unavoidable human condition, often rife with various aches, pains, and diseases that make old age a period of constant discomfort. One common problem Australians face comes by the name of arthritis, a term that encapsulates a wide range of inflammatory conditions that affect the bones, muscles, and joints of our bodies.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1 in 7 Australians suffer from a form of arthritis, with women making up a larger majority of sufferers in the population1. The disease often manifests in our later stages of life, although early onset cases are regular enough to warrant attention from those who are younger in age.
So, if you or a loved one is suffering from even mild forms of arthritis, this article is for you as it lists common methods of handling the symptoms and provides a potential additional long-term mode of appropriate care.
Unsure if what you are experiencing is arthritis? HealthDirect Australia3 says these 4 symptoms occurring frequently may warrant a deeper look by a professional:
- Swelling joint(s)
- Redness and warmth in a joint
- Stiffness or reduced movement of a joint
While we may often feel these symptoms in daily life, you should see a doctor if the symptoms remain for more than a few days or occur more than once a week.
Arthritis Risk Factors
The term “arthritis” encapsulates over 100 types of disorders, ranging from minor pains to major disabilities in your bones, muscles, and joints.
Considering how arthritis is the second most common cause of early retirement due to ill-health in Australia2, it may be useful to know what factors may increase the risk of getting this problem.
Our skeleton is the framework that provides hard support for our muscles to function. Adding more weight to the frame adds strain on our mobile body parts, especially the joints.
Frequent stress on a joint
Just like with a piece of machinery, regular use can lead to faster deterioration of the affected part. A chef may get arthritis in the elbows and wrists far more often than someone who does not cook, for example.
Damage from an injury or accident
And of course, an accident or injury to the joint may lead to arthritis in that joint. Old breaks and sprains may flare up more frequently over time, leading to a regular pain that may impede our daily lives.
Smoking can aggravate or even cause arthritic symptoms because of oxidative stress, inflammation, and reduced immune toleranc. It might be worth it to stop smoking to see if symptoms alleviate.
Common Arthritis Pain Management Methods
Arthritis has no cure; it is just one of those diseases that we must deal with as we age.
The thing is, arthritis is not a be-all, end-all kind of disease. Sufferers can take steps in pain management to be able to live near-normal lives, although the degrees of success vary wildly between cases. Here are common things to try for quick relief:
- Immobilize the joint
In general, arthritis means inflammation in a joint. You can get a brace to support the joint or even keep it locked in a position. This immobilization prevents accidental movement and may keep pain levels bearable.
Conversely, moving the affected joint in slow, steady stretches may increase blood flow to it. The key thing is to avoid fast, jerky movements of any kind – advice that is often felt once then followed religiously.
In line with keeping the blood flowing, light massage of affected areas can bring warmth and provide relief. Just be careful of how much strength is used and how far one pushes a joint.
- Head/cold therapy
Applying hot or cold temperatures to the joint may ease swelling or increase blood circulation. A simple ice pack in a towel or a heated towel are basic tools that everyone has access to.
Anti-inflammatory medications such as acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen are common over-the-counter solutions for arthritic pain. However, frequent use is not recommended due to potential toxicity.
While the remedies above are good at-home solutions, proper long-term care from a professional will provide the best chance of minimizing damage to our bodies while maximizing quality of life.
How Chiropractic Care Can Help With Arthritis Pain
As arthritis is a condition that affects the muscles and joints, another great option for diagnosis and treatment is to consult a chiropractor.
That is because chiropractors study, train, and practice in the art and science of the human musculoskeletal system. Their deep specialization in the spine also makes them the a great choice for back pains caused by arthritis.
The first step to any treatment is to identify what kind of arthritis you may be experiencing.
A chiro’s holistic approach often includes analysis of your daily life: Diet, posture, habits, even the furniture you sit and sleep on may be analyzed before even starting on deeper scans. Our joints can receive all kinds of unusual pressure from the way we go about our lives.
Chiros may then use specialized machines like x-rays, ultrasound, and CT scans to dive deep into what your joints look like. Some fluid samples from a joint may be extracted to best understand what is happening.
The analysis might even discover other factors that cause pain in the body. For example, what you think is arthritis may simply be pain caused by using an imbalanced walking style, or a bad back actually being caused by a poorly made chair.
Treatments will vary significantly from case to case. A chiropractor is a particularly good choice for people who seek relief without the use of invasive surgery nor potentially toxic medicines.
Stretches, physical rehabilitation, and exercises tailored to your level of fitness and flexibility can make a world of difference to arthritic pain. As inflamed joints don’t do well with sudden movements, these physical manipulations may be much softer and slower than the bone-cracking reputation you may have seen or heard online. These manipulations are aimed at restoring function to an inflamed joint, allowing for more natural movement while reducing pain.
Chiropractors can also offer acupuncture, massages, and physiotherapy as complementary treatments. There are also the usual medications and surgery options if nothing else seems to work.
With a disease as complex and varied as arthritis, the key thing is to find a doctor you can trust who pays attention to your needs.
Where To Find Good Chiropractors
As with any issue that is medical in nature, you must find experienced, licensed practitioners with a history. That is why Drs. Michael and David Black may be a good place to start your journey towards managing arthritic pain.
Licensed with the Chiropractic Board of Australia and fielding 37 years of experience between the duo, you will get great chiropractic care in the areas of Doncaster and Armadale. A consultation is the easiest way to know if your arthritis pain can be eased – call now at (03) 9509 7691 to schedule a visit!