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My Doctor Says I Have Arthritis, What Does that Mean?

The very simple definition of arthritis is “inflammation of one or more joints.” According to the CDC arthritis affects 54.4 million adults in the U.S. or more than 1 in 4 people. The most common symptoms are pain and stiffness and is a common cause of chronic pain.

Sounds simple, right? Not so much. There are many different forms of arthritis, causes for it, and ways of treating it. Here’s a little breakdown of the different types of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, affecting over 30 million Americans. It can also be referred to as “degenerative joint disease.” OA is characterized by damage or breakdown of the cartilage and bone within the joint. In the spine, OA is referred to as “degenerative disc disease” or “DDD.”

Symptoms include pain, stiffness, decreased range of motion and swelling in the affected joint. To diagnosis OA, your doctor should perform a physical examination, x-rays, and lab tests. This form of arthritis has previously thought to be caused by “wear and tear.” However, recent research is suggesting that there is an auto-immune component meaning the body is attacking its own joints related to lifestyle choices and family history.

Inflammatory Arthritis is an overall term for the different types of arthritis that are characterized by inflammation of the joints AND other tissues. Types of inflammatory arthritis include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus), and more. These forms of arthritis are classified as auto-immune diseases, meaning the body is attacking its own tissues causing the damage. Auto-immune diseases are more frequently genetically related; however, research is showing that lifestyle choices, such as smoking, are playing just as much of role contributing to the onset and severity of the condition.

The typical arthritis symptoms are seen in these cases, but sometimes with more severity.There are frequently other symptoms seen with inflammatory arthritis because of the affect on other tissues. This can include skin rashes, eye inflammation, hair loss, dry mouth, and fever. In these cases, diagnosis is essential to determine proper treatment methods. Health history and physical examination help guide the diagnosis, but it is confirmed through lab tests and advanced imaging. We highly recommend working with your family physician, chiropractor, and a rheumatologist to best manage the symptoms.

What can Body Logic do to help? We offer relief! The Arthritis Foundation recommends both massage therapy and chiropractic care as treatment options for arthritis management. The symptoms of arthritis directly impact the musculoskeletal system. Both massage and chiropractic can improve circulation throughout the body, especially in the joints and muscles affected by the disease process. If you have been diagnosed with arthritis, it’s important to speak with your massage therapist and chiropractor about your symptoms and areas of chief complaint so those areas can be addressed appropriately depending on the type and severity of your condition. We are here to listen and help!