Arthritis, by definition is pain and inflammation of the joints. So whenever you have pain or inflammation of a joint, you could say you are having an arthritic episode. From a diagnostic perspective, arthritis is divided into essentially 3 types; osteoarthritis, gouty arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Gouty arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are both the result of systemic diseases that cause inflammation in the joints. Consequently, the diagnosis of that type of arthritis is dependent on the diagnosis of either disease, and the treatment goal is to reduce the extent and intensity of the systemic disease, causing a subsequent reduction in the arthritic symptoms. The goal of chiropractic care in the treatment of people with these types of arthritis is to reduce interference to the nervous system caused by vertebral subluxations. This allows for improved function of the immune system, improving the body's ability to combat or moderate the disease process.

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. It is also referred to as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease. In this form, the cartilage of a joint thins, the joint space thins, and bone spurs begin to form. Follow up x-rays show continued progress of the disease with the bone spurs getting larger and the joint spaces getting smaller. Osteoarthritis is presumed to be an inevitable consequence of aging for which little can be done other than manage the pain symptoms with medications. For many people, this approach leads to restricted physical activities and medication side effects.

Chiropractors look at arthritis differently, especially degenerative arthritis. Consider the assumption that degenerative arthritis is an inevitable consequence of aging. It would be logical to assume that if aging was the cause of degenerative arthritis, then all joints in a person (or at least all similar joints) would show the same amount degeneration since they would be the same age and have the same genetic and nutritional profile. However, this is never the case. If arthritic changes are present on a spinal x-ray, there is always a range of changes among adjacent vertebra, anywhere from perfectly healthy joints to significantly degenerated ones. Given that the joints are the same age, it is reasonable to conclude that age is not the significant causative factor.

Misalignments can and do cause degenerative changes in joints, with injury (either obvious or small repetitious injuries caused by habits) being the most common cause of misalignment. When a joint is misaligned, a number of things occur. The mechanics of the joint will change, causing changes in the stress on a joint. You get inflammation of the supporting ligaments, increased irritation of the cartilage surface of the joint which leads to a thinning of the cartilage, bone spur growth in response to the inflammation, and altered mechanics. If the joint is a weight bearing joint (knee, hip, spine) this process can move fairly quickly. In the spine, chiropractors locate and correct vertebral subluxations. A vertebral subluxation involves biomechanical altering misalignment, localized inflammation of the supportive ligaments, weakening of the supportive muscles, and irritation of the nervous system. When a subluxation has been present for a long enough period of time, degeneration of the intervertebral discs and the adjacent joints occurs.

Chiropractic is not a treatment for arthritis, however, people with arthritis can experience dramatic benefit from chiropractic care. Vertebral subluxations weaken your nervous system, which in turn stresses the immune system, and it can put the body in a weakened state, setting the stage for all kinds of health problems. Chiropractors correct those subluxations which improves the mechanics of the spine and supportive joints, improves the function of the nervous system, reduces stress on the immune system, and strengthens your overall health.