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The ‘ARTHRITIS' Myth

Dispelling the common notion that most aches or pains we encounter past the age of 35 are either age-related or the onset of arthritis. 

Back pain?  Hip pain?  Knee pain?  Neck and shoulder pain?  Etc, etc…  Regardless of where you ache or suffer pain, the question is, ‘Are you really ready for the scrap-heap?’, or, are you simply experiencing a very commonplace problem that may have a practical solution through proper diagnosis and intervention.

The truth is most aches and pains we encounter in life, regardless of our age, are simply little alarm bells the body is uses to alert us to what is usually a very solvable problem.  Early intervention is always key.  To ignore your body’s distress signals (such as pain, ache, stiffness, tingling, etc) in the hopes the problem will simply disappear is to defy simple common sense and often invites greater trouble.

If, however, you are one of the many who find some comfort in the idea that perhaps your particular ache, pain or symptom is just ‘age taking its course’, you will find it easy to fall into the common trap of convincing yourself that no action is required and may set yourself at greater risk for future problems.

Even worse, if you are one of the many who have concluded on your own or have been told that your ache or pain is simply ‘arthritis’, and have therefore been led to believe that there is nothing you can do but live with the pain and manage on the best you can, you may be very surprised to discover that this is usually not the case at all.

Arthritis, or what is commonly referred to as osteoarthritis, is actually one of the most mis-diagnosed and poorly understood entities in health care.  Even within the Medical and Chiropractic professions, it is often referred to casually as ‘wear and tear’, and is therefore commonly trivialized and over-diagnosed.  Many, if not most, health care professionals nowadays use the term arthritis to describe just about any form of ache, pain, or physical ailment that recurs regularly, won’t go away with the use of tablets, and/or is of undetermined origin.  And this is especially true in older-age or elderly persons.  In other words, if you don’t know what it is and it won’t go away, it must be ‘arthritis’!  Don’t be too quick to write yourself off.

Even the use of X-ray or MRI imaging should generally be considered unreliable as concrete proof of the presence of arthritis.  The terms ‘degenerative change’, or ‘degenerative joint/disc disease’, are radiological terms that improperly imply wear and tear has occurred, and are often confused as ‘potentially arthritic’.   Did you know that it is entirely possible, and actually more common than not, for quite severe degenerative change to be present (on x-ray) at a joint or spinal segment with absolutely no pain or symptoms?  How can that be?  It’s because degenerative change and arthritis are not the same thing!

More accurately, the degenerative process is actually a natural process that the body initiates as a result of a common mechanical flaw known as ‘joint dysfunction’.  It can affect any joint in the body.  It is slow, progressive, and usually painless for much of its development, and it is actually a symptom of an underlying and established mechanical problem that arises from restricted motion, misalignment and/or abnormal-irregular movement forces at a joint.  The more severe or prolonged the joint dysfunction, the more the joint and surrounding structures will be susceptible to aches, pain, and potential injury, and the more the body will attempt to stabilize the joint through degenerative change.  But take note, this is not arthritis!

Most importantly, joint dysfunction is a correctable problem for most, regardless of how long you have had it or how bad your pain is.  There is usually a solution available and most problems involving joint dysfunction can be successfully rehabilitated, thereby removing the pain and restoring people to normal function and activity.  ‘My arthritis is gone!’ you might say, albeit incorrect.  Correcting joint dysfunction not only removes the pain and restores normal joint position and movement, but it slows and often halts the degenerative process in its tracks, making you less susceptible to… you guessed it… arthritis.

If you are someone who suffers from regular or recurrent aches, pains, and/or joint and muscle problems, the likelihood is you are suffering from joint dysfunction and can be helped through appropriate treatment.  Be reassured, there may be a solution for you yet, and the balance of probability is that you do not have arthritis and can be helped.  Certainly do not write yourself off as such until you have consulted with a Chiropractor or health care specialist with similar expertise.  Chiropractors specialise in detecting and treating joint dysfunction and related disorders of the spine and extremities.  To determine whether you are a candidate for such care, or to simply receive an accurate diagnosis of your pain or problem, please consult a Chiropractor in your local area.

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