A quick Google search of “arthritis” reveals the serious prevalence and concern of this much too common condition. With the potential to cause constant suffering, changing a person’s lifestyle and personality, and ultimately their very life and the lives of their loved ones, it should raise a great deal of concern. And sadly, most are told by medicine there’s nothing that can be done to stop or correct it, and the afflicted are left taking toxic chemicals to hopefully at least “control” the disease, basically numbing it periodically while the actual condition worsens at an increasing rate.
The Arthritis Foundation lists 62 different maladies under “Types of Arthritis”, though a number of conditions listed were a bit of a stretch they were maybe included because they often accompany the arthritic condition. Despite the long list, there are essentially two types of arthritis, Degenerative, also called Osteoarthritis, and Auto Immune, the most common of which is Rheumatoid arthritis.
Degenerative / Osteoarthritis is by far the most common, and it has a specific set of signs and symptoms which makes it convenient for classifying and cataloging in texts and qualifies it to be called a disease. And this of course makes it convenient to assign a diagnosis, or label, to that person and thus prescribe the appropriate drugs to treat the symptoms.
Along with naming, classifying and cataloging, there’s also the opportunity for fundraising for “research” to find the “cure”. Unfortunately in our great country, the only interest in a “cure” is if it’s a patentable chemical, not actual insight into prevention and true healing. If you’re skeptical of that comment, just take a look at cancer for example. “Research” dating back to the 1930’s has been ongoing, yet the prevalence of this horrible disease is greater than ever. Worse yet, when promising non-drug treatments and therapies have been discovered, they are quickly and quietly buried as anecdotal and anyone who pursues that research is vilified and discredited even to the point of death.
There are treatments and even actual cures for cancer that are far less dangerous and more effective than what is available here, but they are only available in other parts of the world and unfortunately only the well informed and wealthy are typically able to take advantage. I only point this out with the hope that it will get people to open their minds to the possibility that maybe whatever they might be suffering with can be helped by an approach that doesn’t involve drugs or surgery. And for millions over the last 127 years, regardless of their affliction, that help has come from Chiropractic.
It is important to clarify that Chiropractic does not treat cancer or any other specific named disease, but rather it unleashes and optimizes the body’s inborn ability to heal and overcome, which has undoubtedly brought healing to many even before conditions worsened to the point of disease and a diagnosis. This is precisely how we have helped many with their arthritis and I even experience the ongoing benefits in my own body, as I will explain.
At age 25 I was the healthiest I’d ever been after a pretty miserable first 20 years. My asthma, allergies and frequent bouts with bronchitis were a thing of the past. I was captain of the Palmer College of Chiropractic Rugby team, and pretty much felt bulletproof. I attributed my turnaround to lots of hard work, and of course regular chiropractic adjustments. So it was with some surprise that one day in the student clinic when I happened upon a group of clinic directors, doctors who oversaw us student doctors, gathered around an x-ray view box studying a set of films.
I didn’t have any patients till later, I thought this must be an interesting case and a chance to learn, so I entered and asked what we were looking at. A couple of the docs looked at me and chuckled, pointing out they were looking at x-rays of my neck. Upon closer inspection I confirmed it was me, fully aware that I had some degenerative arthritis already at my young age. I hadn’t thought much about why, other than I did play many years of football and then rugby, nor did I give much thought to the ramifications for my future, I mean I felt great! One of the older docs kept looking at the x-ray, then me, back at the films and so forth, all the while rubbing his beard with a very serious look on his face. Finally he looks at me and says with great concern, “Son, do you FEEL alright?” I assured him that I felt great, and reminded him of my physical prowess on the rugby pitch, though I
was a little concerned by his tone. He points to the x-ray and says, “You see this right here?” I responded “yes”, and that I knew it wasn’t good. His response was, “Not good?” “This is the neck of a 65 year old man!” Of course that comment shook me up a bit, but I felt great, life was very busy, and I knew there wasn’t anything I could do about what was already there, so I went on about my business and tried to not let it bother me.
Now I have always made it a priority to practice in my life what I preach in my office. The years passed with the usual physical ups and downs to be expected in an old athlete’s body, but each time I looked at a new set of x-rays I noticed that the degeneration in my neck did not seem to be worsening. As of the last set of films I had done about 5 years ago, I still had the neck of a 65 year old, 25 years after hearing it described that way. My point is that by applying the knowledge I’ve been blessed with, my degenerative condition, which is supposed to continue to worsen with age, has essentially stayed the same. A medical impossibility, or rarity at best!
And this phenomenon has not been just in my neck. For those who have met me, I know it’s probably pretty memorable that here I am speaking health and fitness, yet I’m wearing two knee braces. People say “Why two?” I point out that I’ve got two knees… and because of my discipline, which includes putting the braces on each day, I have NO degeneration in my knees despite having torn ligaments in both, the right one since 1991, and the left since 1997. An orthopedic surgeon told me that if I didn’t have surgery I would need a whole new knee in 5 years due to degenerative arthritis. He was a little off. I’m often asked why I don’t have the surgery. The short answer is I don’t want to miss 2 ski seasons, I have no pain or arthritis, and I know too much about the prevalence of medical mishaps. As my dad used to say to me, “Why mess with what’s working?”
So had I not known what I know regarding my knees, let’s take a look at what would have been the inevitable had I chosen to not do the surgery at that time. Due to the torn ligaments, which would be like taking the pin out of a hinge, the thigh and shin bones would have been sliding and grinding against each other with each step I took. This would have
caused damage to the cartilage linings covering the ends of the bones as well as to the cartilage pads known as the meniscus, which is the first stage of osteoarthritis. The resulting pain would have led to self-medication and eventually a visit to the doctor. Sadly,
the recommendation for this condition is the same today as it was 26 years ago, and I would have been prescribed an NSAID anti-inflammatory, told there was arthritis present, and that there’s really nothing more that could be done. The only problem with NSAID’s, which means Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, is that they ACCELERATE the degeneration of cartilage, and not just in the already injured area, but EVERYWHERE!
If my liver and kidneys survived long enough on this regimen, eventually the cartilage in my knee would have begun to tear until the pain or the mechanical obstruction caused by the tears would have rendered the NSAID drugs ineffective. The resulting doctor visit might have elicited stronger prescriptions, some of which have since been taken off the market due to deaths and class action lawsuits. Then after those drugs failed it would have led to a surgical consult and then likely an arthroscopic “cleaning up” of the damage. Sometimes this procedure provides some temporary relief, likely an illusion after recovering from the horrific pain the surgery causes. For many, it does not work, and they undergo multiple “scopes” hoping at some point it will work.
After this fails to solve the problem, and it always fails eventually, the last resort is a knee replacement. An amazing and life changing procedure, but for too many it’s a questionable path that led to this traumatic, expensive, life altering and limiting solution.
Now let’s look at the path I chose instead. As a chiropractor I learned that proper motion and alignment of all the joints is essential to the health and longevity of each one. I also understand the anatomy and functioning of each joint in the body. When faced with the injury, I could have undergone reconstructive surgery, but life’s situation at the time did not allow that as a solution. So my thought was to stabilize the joint and apply my knowledge of proper alignment, exercise, nutrition and hydration, and I’d be able to go quite a long time before requiring surgery. Turns out I was right, and I’m still going strong. Let me explain how we can help you apply this knowledge to minimize the effects of degenerative arthritis in your life.
At the foundation of health, especially health of the joints is proper alignment. Seems like this should be logical common sense, we know that parts of a machine if misaligned will cause the machine to malfunction or shut down, and the body is essentially a very complicated living machine. Chiropractic recognizes this and was the first to identify
misalignment as a serious health issue. Termed “Subluxation” by its founder, it was discovered that there are three ways it may occur in the spine; physical, chemical and emotional or mental stress.
Abnormal alignment in the spine then causes asymmetry in the extremities as the body is forced to adapt. And this is what leads to the majority of insidious onset hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, elbow and wrist pain, which is then typically numbed with drugs until the permanent damage of arthritis sets in as described earlier.
Nutrition, hydration and exercise are also key components in overall health, including the health of our joints. At this point in history it is very difficult to get all the nutrition we need from our food. This is well documented and a subject for another time, just suffice it to say supplements are a necessity for anyone who wants to be their healthiest. It is essential that the body have the necessary building blocks available if it is to regenerate, heal and stay at it’s best. It’s important to remember that every day millions of your body’s cells die and are replaced from the raw materials available for re-building. Glucosamine Sulfate is one such building block supplement.
Hydration is even more important for overall health and plays a vital role in joint health as well. Estimates range from 60-75% of the body being comprised of water, there are some tissues that are much less, and others that are even higher, such as the cartilage in our joints. There’s an amazing phenomenon in the body in which water will be utilized for the more vital functions first and if there’s not enough, less important tissues will be dehydrated so that water can be used for the vital life functions such as blood volume, and kidney function. Turns out joint cartilage, including the discs between the vertebrae are considered very low priority, and when dehydrated these tissues degenerate. It’s also interesting to note that muscles are also low priority and dehydrated muscles become painful, stiff, and eventually develop scar tissue within them, further complicating the ability to feel good.
Exercise as everyone knows is also essential for optimal health. We’ve all heard “If you don’t use it you lose it.” And that is absolutely true. NASA discovered that astronauts quickly lost bone and muscle mass in space due to the lack of the opposing forces of gravity. And many sedentary middle-aged folks have seen it personally as they experience “getting old” before their time. As far as arthritis is concerned, exercise moves the joints
through their full range of motion, reiterating to the brain that the entire joint surface is regularly being used and is therefore still necessary to maintain and not “lose it”. It also lubricates the surfaces, moving the synovial fluid throughout which also provides nourishment to the cartilage as it does not have its own blood vessels to feed the cells. And last but not least, having balanced strong muscles help support and keep the joints aligned more efficiently.
As far as the autoimmune types of arthritis, chiropractic can still be of great value, improving overall health, nerve communication and immune function in addition to the alignment benefits. Also, most chiropractors advocate cleaning up the diet, which is always a good idea, especially in the case of autoimmune response. A good diet lowers inflammation throughout the body, and excessive inflammation is a key trigger in the body’s immune system attacking it’s own tissues.
I realize all of this is a lot of information to process and understand. Fortunately there are those of us who have dedicated our lives to this cause and we live it to the best of our abilities so that we can lead by example and be here to answer your questions and provide the care and direction for everyone who desires to learn, grow and be their best, or at least better than they currently are!
We welcome your questions and comments and there are multiple ways to learn more and communicate with us. On Facebook- Atlas First Chiropractic, Ltd., our website- www.AtlasFirstChiropractic.com, email- [email protected], Pinterest, Instagram and Nextdoor- Atlas First Chiropractic, and on Twitter- @atlasfirstchiro. And of course the traditional phone 303-766-9626 or better yet just come by in person! We’re located in the Smoky Village II shopping center on the NW side of Himalaya and Smoky Hill. Our address is 5616 S Gibraltar Way, Unit F, Centennial, CO 80015.