The word “Arthritis” means inflammation of a joint. There are many forms of arthritis, but the most common is Osteoarthritis. Other forms include Rheumatoid Arthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis. Osteoarthritis affects certain areas of the body, generally the spine, and can be diagnosed with an x-ray. It is not known what the exact cause is, but it is known that aging as well as excessive load and stress put on joints over a prolonged period of time can lead to the development of this form of arthritis. Hyaline cartilage covers the joints in the body, including the spine and in a healthy joint, this cartilage is thick and well lubricated. However, excessive load or wear and tear can cause that cartilage to wear down. It’s a degenerative disorder where the space narrows creating pain and discomfort. If someone says, “My arthritis is acting up,” then most likely they are speaking of Osteoarthritis, which can be very disabling.
Treatment Options for Arthritis
Arthritis consists of localized pain due to inflammation, so this means a lot of pain. If a patient has low back degenerative disk disease, joint disease or osteoarthritis, they will experience localized low back pain, a dull ache that may increase with activities. This type pain can precipitate other things such as disk disease. When someone experiences this pain, it is important to be checked out since this can be due to biomechanical breakdown. First, we need to find out why the joint isn’t moving properly, and second, there may be abnormal muscle flexibility which can increase the load on joints. Furthermore, one area that is weak can cause another area to break down.
Another cause is chronic inflammation which can be treated with medications such as NSAIDS (Advil, Aleve, Ibuprofen, etc.). There are also prescription medications that can help deal with chronic inflammation.
Mechanics, muscle flexibility and muscle weakness are all things that a patient can manage on their own or with the help of a physician, chiropractor or physical therapist. Sometimes half the battle is understanding exactly what the problem is and conservative treatment typically is the best option, although surgical intervention is sometimes warranted in extreme cases. Assessment should always be your first step in treatment, so that you know exactly what you need to treat and what the best option is for healing.