These Conditions Require Immediate Chiropractic Attention

By Martha Michael

Arthritis, Sciatica and You

A lot of things happen in life that can put on the back-burner: a scratch on your bumper, a less than perfect job review -- even a bill payment. But there can be serious consequences for not keeping tabs on personal health matters.

Some things need to be addressed right away.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

An autoimmune disease that swells the joints, rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, can cause pain in the hands and feet of patients. A form of inflammatory polyarthritis, patients with acute RA may suffer from deformity or loss of function in their hands.

It affects more than just hands and feet -- other joints may become symptomatic and disability is a real possibility when you have untreated rheumatoid arthritis, says an article in Everyday Health. Complications can be serious -- you may become disabled and suffer emotionally from the toll it takes on your function and your appearance.

More importantly, there’s a greater risk of death, and time is a factor in the outcome.

While joint damage occurs in 85 percent of cases, it mainly happens within the first two years, says the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center. Patients who do not treat their rheumatoid arthritis are twice as likely to die than others their age. Approximately one-half to one-third of deaths due to RA are the result of cardiovascular disease and a quarter of patients contract infections. Rheumatoid arthritis is also associated with lymphoma, osteoporosis and anemia.

Chiropractic treatment can help relieve you from symptoms stemming from these conditions. Because RA is a chronic disorder, regular chiropractic care can help to offset joint stiffness, pain, and you can get lifestyle advisement to counteract such challenges as fatigue and depression.

A trip to the chiropractor is a drug-free alternative to curb joint damage and enhance function that can add to your personal contributions to your health, such as regular exercise and a healthy diet.

Sciatica

Contrary to popular belief, sciatica is actually a symptom, not a condition. According to Medical News Today, it is defined as the presence of pain caused by irritation of the nerve, and it’s typically incited by compression in the spine. Often the cause is a herniated disc.

And what a nerve it is. The longest and widest nerve in your body, the sciatic nerve stems from roots in your lower spinal cord -- the lumbar region -- through your gluteal area, down your legs to an area just above your knees.

Symptoms of the disorder are sometimes confused with basic back pain, but there is a range of possible signs that you may be struggling with sciatica.

Off and on, you may have numbness in your legs and feet. Because the sciatic nerve controls the muscles in your lower legs, it cuts off circulation to the lower extremities.

If you experience a tingling sensation in your feet, it may be a symptom of sciatica. Often described as a feeling of “pins and needles,” it can be due to intense pressure on your leg or buttocks, blocking circulation.

If you get a shooting pain down the sciatic nerve pathway on one side or the other, it’s probably sciatica. It sometimes results from degeneration of the discs that cushion your vertebrae, keeping the bones from rubbing against each other.

Medical experts estimate that 4 in 10 individuals will experience sciatica at some point in their lives. There are several possible causes of sciatica, says an article on News-Medical.net:

  • Herniated (AKA ruptured or slipped) disc
  • Spondylolisthesis, in which one vertebra slips forward over another, often accompanied by a narrowing of the disc space
  • Spinal infection
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bulging disc
  • Pelvic trauma
  • Pelvic tumor
  • Piriformis syndrome, a spastic gluteal muscle

If untreated, sciatica can be life-changing. The most obvious problem that arises for a patient is a change of lifestyle due to avoidance of pain. You may miss countless days of work or see an erosion of your social relationships. Physically, sciatica can become exaggerated if not treated.

A chiropractor can provide a swift diagnosis of the cause and, based on the assessment, create a treatment plan. Depending on the damage, your chiropractic care may include exercises to build stronger muscles in your core and boost spinal flexibility.

Also, your chiropractor might take a closer look at your resting posture, which could be improved to help with your symptoms. Without early diagnosis and treatment, sciatica may cause permanent nerve damage. And there are cases in which an individual experiences symptoms that seem unrelated, such as a loss of bowel and bladder control indicating the need for medical intervention.

Serious symptoms affecting your daily function are difficult to ignore, but many other health concerns can continue unattended. It’s best, however, that you err on the side of caution. Let the laundry, the angry mother-in-law, and the unsightly hairstyle go -- not the numbness in your legs or aching back.

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