Chiropractic for Arthritis Sufferers

Chiropractic care helps reduce the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis by adjusting the joints back into proper alignment. This is a safe, natural and healthy alternative to medication.

What are the names of some common arthritic conditions people can suffer from?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, I think the first thing we need to do before we get into that is define what arthritis is. Arth comes from the Latin word meaning joint, and itis means inflammation, so arthritis literally means inflammation of the joints. Now that we know what it is, we can talk about the different types.

Now, the most common type of arthritis, and the one that I see the most in my office, is usually called osteoarthritis, or bone arthritis. It is basically the degenerative changes one sees when the mechanics of the spine, or any joint, aren’t correct. They used to think that osteoarthritis was called everyone’s disease because everyone seemed to get it later in life, but anyone who is subject to gravity and has aberrant mechanics is probably going to see some degenerative change.

Then, there’s some other types of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis and then psoriatic arthritis. These are believed to be autoimmune diseases, where your own body’s immune system looks at the cartilage and the joint and thinks that it’s some kind of foreign entity and goes and attacks it, and that causes inflammation and swelling, and then the joints degenerate there. Psoriatic arthritis is often associated with the skin problem psoriasis. Again, that seems to be autoimmune-related in a lot of cases. There are a lot of different types of arthritis and a lot of different names, but they all cause the same end result or problem, which is the inflammation and swelling of the joint, which then leads to pain and degeneration of the joints.

What causes arthritis?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Arthritis, most commonly the osteoarthritis, is caused by aberrant mechanics and overuse. The best analogy I can give, and I might have even used this one before on your show, is that if I am driving my car and I hit a big pothole and I knock the front end of my car out of alignment, the car still drives. I can still drive it fast and I can drive it a lot, but if I do that and I never correct the alignment, the tires are going to start to wear funny, and then eventually they’ll vibrate, and then they’ll wobble, and then it will stress the U-joints, and then it can mess up the steering column. So, if not corrected early, it can lead to bigger problems.

That is what happens with arthritis. If we have misalignments in the spine, or any joint, and the joints are used a lot and the alignment isn’t corrected or improved, then those joints will start to become inflamed and then degenerate with the arthritic changes, which usually results in decreased disc space, meaning that the space between the two bones is narrowed and eventually it can wear away the cartilage until it gets to a condition where some doctors or people refer to it as bone-on-bone. It’s hard to bounce back from that. There’s not a lot you can do, so it’s really focused more on prevention. You really want to deal with the degenerative changes and also deal with the inflammation that you see with arthritis as well.

However, the autoimmune types are much more difficult to treat because, again, there is an organic process going on in the body, where the body’s own immune system is looking at the joint and the joint’s cartilage as something foreign and then starts to attack it. There, we really need to start looking at why is the immune system overreacting to something that’s normally in the body.

Those are the things that generally will cause arthritis, and then there are some genetic predispositions. There is some level of inheritance, especially with some of the more genetic-related arthritis, the psoriatic arthritis and the rheumatoid arthritis. They look at genetic factors, and you can do some blood tests to see if you are at risk for those.

How can chiropractors help people with arthritis?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, chiropractic can help prevent arthritis. If you keep the joints in proper alignment, the mechanics are going to be smoother and you’re not going to see that type of osteoarthritis and the degeneration. If you have a poorly aligned spine, the mechanics are going to be worse, and then you’ll start to see those changes happening on X-rays as you take them throughout the course of their life. I see early degenerative changes in patients who have played football, had dance careers, people who don’t exercise. There’s a lot of different things that can lead to arthritis.

The best way to prevent it is to, number one, get your spine checked to make sure everything is in proper alignment, and number two, get some exercise and move and be healthy, because if you’re not moving, the joints don’t get any nourishment. There is no direct blood supply inside a joint, so if the joints don’t move and you don’t swirl up the synovial fluid inside the joint capsule, when that fluid becomes in contact with the joint capsule then the nutrients will diffuse into the joint and keep it healthy. For those who don’t move, those things can really start to move faster and the disease process of arthritis can advance rather quickly. You might have seen it in an aging parent or a grandparent, where all of a sudden they start to get some pain and then they don’t move as much, and then the less they move the faster the arthritis progresses.

How often should arthritis sufferers receive chiropractic treatments to get the best results?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, there was a study that was done a few years back that demonstrated after two weeks of immobilization or improper mobilization of a joint, you can start to see the degenerative changes of arthritis starting to happen after only two weeks. Now, that research, plus some other research that I use in my office, determines that usually about twice a month is what I recommend. That’s exactly what I do for myself, my staff, my family, and anyone who comes into my office. After they complete the initial corrective adjustment plan that they have to go through to get their spine healthy again, the recommended maintenance is about twice per month. Most of the people who continue care in my office continue with great results.

Those are the things that we really look to do at a minimum, but if someone has a lot of arthritis, or the degeneration really got out of hand, sometimes it can take several months to do the initial correction just to get the patient to a point where they are not in extreme pain all the time and the mechanics are better, so you can slow down the progression and not let it move forward.

For people depending on prescription drugs to manage their arthritis, what are some reasons they should get out of their comfort zone and try holistic, natural ways to help fight it?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, I can cite one reason that is just two words and that is side effects, because there’s always going to be side effects to taking any medications. If you watch any drug commercial on TV, or listen to one on the radio, as soon as they’re talking about what the drug does, they go into this whole oration about the numerous side effects that the drug has. Whether or not you get the desired effect from the medication, there are still those side effects. There are no side effects to chiropractic adjustments. The worst-case scenario in most cases is that there is a little bit of post-adjustment soreness later that day, but that’s about it.

It’s really getting off the drugs and the side effects. Drugs will really only cover up the symptoms. They don’t fix the problem, because I’ve never heard of arthritis being caused by an aspirin deficiency or by an anti-inflammatory deficiency. There’s usually something going on in the body. I think that drugs, although they might be effective in short-term, temporary pain relief, they in no way fix the problem or stop the progression of arthritic change.

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