Arthritis & Chiropractic Care, guest post by Dr. Rion Zimmerman

Arthritis can be confusing to people. When some people hear this word they contemplate a future with twisted and crippled joints; however, “arthritis” is an all-inclusive word that comprises many different conditions from the benign to the severe. Osteoarthritis, degenerative arthritis, or degenerative joint disease (DJD) are the terms for the most common form of arthritis, which is also called, spondylosis, if it occurs in the spine. Basically, the condition is due to the erosion of the cartilage that lines the joint surfaces.

Although some health care professionals will say arthritis cannot be reversed, studies have shown that it can. DJD or osteoarthritis in the spine is caused by unhealthy neurological patterns developed by physical, chemical and/or emotional stress. Chiropractic helps correct those unhealthy neurological patterns with gentle, specific adjustments. As the nervous system develops a healthy neurological pattern, stress is taken off the nerve roots.  As stress is removed from the nervous system, proper motion, function and balance will be restored throughout the body.

Prevention is unquestionably the best option, beginning at an early age. Making sure that

  • all injuries to joints are properly treated,
  • postural imbalances corrected and
  • joint function restored,

will prevent degenerative progression within one’s body. Chiropractic care can combat the effects of arthritis and can help someone avoid utilizing medications that cause harmful systemic effects. Chiropractic will allow one’s body to rest, relax and heal naturally!

If you’d like to learn more or talk to Dr. Zimmerman about your health, he can be reached at 818-952-0172 and on-line. Dr. Zimmerman is a Chiropractor specializing in preventative hands-on care with extensive knowledge related to athletes, pregnant and post-partum women and nutrition. He has been a patient of chiropractic since the age of eight, which continues to give him the drive to provide chiropractic care for individuals of all ages. His office is located in La Cañada, CA.

Arthritis & Nutrition, guest post by Jill Brook, Nutritionist

As part of my 3-part series on arthritis, I asked local nutrition expert, Jill Brook for some tips. Here’s some wisdom from her. Enjoy!

A healthy diet can help the body in its efforts to heal itself, and in some cases, particular foods can lessen symptoms. To address problems commonly associated with arthritis, try the following:

Dietary Recommendations

  • Decrease protein toward 10 percent of daily caloric intake. Replace animal protein as much as possible with plant protein. Eliminate milk and milk products, substituting other calcium sources.
  • Eat organically grown fruits and vegetables as much as possible as well as organic products made from wheat and soy.  If you believe you have an allergy or sensitivity to wheat or soy, avoid these foods altogether.
  • Eliminate polyunsaturated vegetable oils, margarine, vegetable shortening, all partially hydrogenated oils, all foods (such as deep-fried foods) that might contain trans-fatty acids. Use extra-virgin olive oil as your main fat.
  • Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids by supplementing with fish oil.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat ginger and turmeric regularly or take them in supplement form.
  • Avoid highly processed foods as much as possible.

Jill Brook M.A. is owner of Diet for Health in La Cañada, CA. She can be reached by phone at 818-952-0668 or through her website. I subscribe to her weekly email list and highly recommend it for a weekly dose of nutritional common sense, wisdom and science-based evidence. Sign up through her website. It’s free!

Arthritis & Massage Part 1

There are many different kinds of arthritis. This article explains the basics of osteoarthritis, which is often thought of as the “wear and tear” type of arthritis. It is a degenerative condition of the joints, especially weight-bearing joints like hips and knees, but also fingers and other joints. An estimated 27 million Americans have osteoarthritis according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2005 study).

Basic Explanation: The ends of bones are covered in cartilage. The cartilage of one bone rests on top of the cartilage of the other bone, allowing smooth movement of the joint. If even the slightest bit of damage occurs to the cartilage of one bone it will start to irritate and tear into the cartilage of the other bone. This leads to more irritation and inflammation of the joint capsule.

Once there is damage to the cartilage, the joint cannot function properly or move smoothly. The body may try to “rebuild” the joint by causing new bone to form. But this actually makes the problem worse. Sometimes these bony growths prevent the joint from moving properly by actually getting in the way. This process also leads to pain. My good friend, Hailey Paton, Physical Therapist told me that injury to ligaments and tendons, which causes scar tissue to form and irritate and disrupt the movement of the joint, can also eventually lead to arthritis. She mentioned that hereditary factors and being obese can lead to osteoarthritis.

Once damage occurs, surrounding muscles react. “Any muscles that cross a stiff, painful, and constantly aggravated joint will tend to tighten up. That’s what muscles do when they are in constant pain. It’s also likely that they would develop some trigger points in the process, because they won’t really get to relax as long as that joint is in pain. And the tension they cause will compress the joint, making it even more painful, which will reinforce the spasm, and so on.” A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology, by Ruth Werner. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 1998 p. 78. Decreasing muscle tension is one of the things that massage is best at! Isn’t that handy.

Diagnosis: I found the Arthritis Foundation website very helpful. “In order to make a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, your doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms, then conduct a physical exam, paying special attention to your joints and how they move. Traditionally, an osteoarthritis diagnosis is made only after joint pain and stiffness becomes persistent and an X-ray shows loss of cartilage and resulting damage to bones. However, research is pursuing ways to detect osteoarthritis sooner.” See more here.

Treatment: There are many treatments available to those with arthritis. As arthritis continues, more aggressive treatments may be appropriate. Movement of joints with arthritis seems to be recommended by most sources because movement is how joints are lubricated and nourished. Treatments may include such things as medications for pain, medications for inflammation, injections, acupuncture, chiropractic, assistive devices (cane, walker, etc.), surgery, hot and cold therapy and nutritional changes.

In my research on the web, I found this great article in Arthritis Today. It summarizes ways in which massage can help. Here are some highlights. Massage can:
•    Reduce pain
•    Decrease stiffness
•    Increase range of motion
•    Improve hand grip strength
•    Increase overall function of the joints
Both professional massage and self-massage can benefit a person with arthritis.

If you have arthritis and would like to explore if massage would be a good part of your overall treatment plan, please call me. We can discuss it with your health care professionals and create a customized treatment plan for you. Remember, I’m not a doctor and cannot diagnose any medical condition including arthritis. Please do not regard this article as a comprehensive treatise on arthritis. However, I hope you have found it useful. I am planning more articles on arthritis. Next up is: Arthritis & Nutrition (a guest post with Jill Brook), and Arthritis & Massage Part 2 (exploring arthritis of the spine). A special thanks to Hailey Paton, Physical Therapist, for her help on this article.