Arthritis: Canada’s largest chronic health condition

Arthritis is a catch-all term that refers to conditions that involve joint inflammation. The word “Arthro” means joint and the word for conditions that cause inflammation in the body, end with “-itis”.


Types of Arthritis:

Though there are many different types of arthritis, all of them involve inflammation of joints. Examples include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Inflammatory Arthritis
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Psoriatic Arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • DISH
  • Gout
  • Pseudogout
  • Paget’s Disease
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon

Chiropractors: Integral Members of Your Arthritis Health Care Team:

As a primary health care practitioner, Dr. Horowitz is skilled in diagnosing joint disease and arthritis. When systemic or inflammatory arthritis is suspected, Dr. Horowitz refers patients to their medical practitioner for required laboratory tests and medical treatment. If a person is suffering to the point that their quality of life is negatively affected and nonsurgical management is not helping, Dr. Horowitz will refer a patient for surgical consultation.  Doctors of Chiropractic are trained in working with patients with Arthritis, not only when degenerative changes affect the spine, but also when arthritis affects other joints in the body.

[su_button url=”” target=”blank” background=”#41849b” size=”10″ radius=”round” icon_color=”#41849b” title=”Book Online” id=”Book Online”]Book Online[/su_button]

Common Signs and Symptoms of Local Joint Arthritis:

A sign is something that a person or another person is able to objectively see, feel or notice.

  • redness
  • swelling
  • heat
  • reduced ranges of motion of one or more joints.

A symptom is something that a person subjectively feels or experiences.

  • pain
  • stiffness
  • crepitus (a creaking sound or grinding sensation when you use the joint)
  • joint instability
  • loss of function and productivity

The pain of Arthritis tends to come and goes at first. However, the pain becomes more intense over time and can become constant and chronic. This can affect you at rest or during sleep.

When a person feels joint instability, you may feel like you cannot trust the joint to hold up during activities (such as going up and down the stairs) or you may feel like the joint buckles under your weight.

Inflammation is Meant to Protect the Body:

The body has a self-protective inflammatory response that is usually triggered by things like trauma, overuse injuries, foreign objects and infections. However, in some diseases and types of arthritis, the body’s normally protective immune system turns against itself and causes damage to its own tissues. These are referred to as autoimmune diseases.

When inflammation occurs locally, the hormonal substances released with inflammation cause small blood vessels in the tissue to become wider (dilate), allowing more blood to reach the injured tissue (to repair it). This is why inflamed areas turn red and feel hot.

This increased blood flow also brings specialized immune system cells to the tissues, where they fight infections and help with the healing process. However, in doing so, these cells (and the hormones released) irritate pain-sensitive nerves, which send pain signals to the brain which causes us to feel pain. As a result, we tend to protect that part of the body.

Inflammation Gone Wrong – Systemic Inflammation:

In some types of arthritis that are considered auto-immune in nature, inflammation is not only found in joints but also occurs in other areas of the body, including in the lungs for example. This is called systemic inflammation and may involve:

  • Several joints being affected (possibly the same joints on both sides of the body)
  • Fatigue
  • Fever or flu-like symptoms
  • Pitted, grooved or discolored nails
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Red scaly patches or rashes on your face or body
  • Non-tender small bumps elbows or hands
  • Hard painful bumps on finger joints
  • Organ disease in the lungs and heart
  • A lowered mood can affect the overall quality of life
  • Joint pain that worsens with joint use and improves with rest
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Difficulty working
  • Reduced involvement in hobbies, leisure, family and social activities

If you have symptoms or signs of arthritis and especially inflammation of systemic arthritis, it is important for you to treat the joint inflammation. Otherwise, significant and irreparable tissue damage may occur resulting in loss of function, disability and reduced quality of life. The less active you become, the more you are at risk for developing other diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Risk Factors for Arthritis and Preventive Strategies:

Some risk factors for Arthritis are changeable (modifiable) which means that through our focused efforts, we may be able to prevent arthritis from occurring or to slow its progression while other risk factors cannot be changed.

Preventing and Slowing down Arthritis: What can we Change?

  1. Protect your joints from unnecessary damage from activities like high-impact sports and teach children to do the same. You can wear joint padding or even avoid competitive sports that involve aggressive contact.
  2. When exercising, make sure you know how to progress through levels in a safe way for your body to prevent injuries. Ask Dr. Horowitz for help when initiating new exercises, especially if you have had prior injuries and frustrations when attempting to exercise.
  3. In order to prevent falls and other injuries, practice being mindful when you walk down the stairs, on ice and when attempting to multitask. Even better don’t try to multitask when crossing the street, carrying groceries and talking on the phone in public.
  4. Drive defensively. We know from research that Arthritis in the spine may develop prematurely. Joint mobilizations and spinal adjustments from a Chiropractor may help to prevent this or slow its progression.
  5. Avoid positions and activities that require repetitive knee bending and squatting, which can lead to and worsen knee and hip Osteoarthritis
  6. Remain physically active within your tolerance
  7. Consume Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation. These can be found in fish such as salmon and trout.
  8. Consume Omega-6 fatty acids are found in seeds such as flax and can be found in evening primrose, borage and black currant. These fats may be helpful to reduce symptoms of SLE
  9. Be aware of certain foods that have been identified as risk factors for aggravating Gout and can increase levels of uric acid found in the blood and in the joints. Avoiding foods such as red meat, certain kinds of seafood (such as shrimp and oily fish), alcoholic beverages (especially beer) and sugar (especially fructose found in soft drinks) may be helpful.  Avoiding dehydration can decrease the likelihood of gout attacks.
  10. Stay within a healthy body weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) since excessive body weight is known to be a risk factor for osteoarthritis in the hip or knee.  To calculate BMI = weight(kg)2 divided by height (meters).
  11. Stop Smoking. Nicotine affects the ability of joint cartilage to be nourished and is known to affect healing negatively. Smoking has been shown to be linked to the severity and progressions of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Non-Changeable Risk Factors:

  1. Aging. Most types of arthritis increase as we age
  2. Biological Sex. Most types of arthritis occur more commonly in women (around 60%). Gout and Ankylosing Spondylitis occur more commonly in men.
  3. Genetics. Certain Genes are associated with a higher risk of certain types of arthritis such as ankylosing spondylitis, Rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Toronto Orthotics Foot, Leg and Back Pain Clinic – North Toronto

[su_button url=”” target=”blank” background=”#41849b” size=”10″ radius=”round” icon_color=”#41849b” title=”Book Online” id=”Book Online”]Book Online[/su_button]

For help with your Arthritis, call Dr. Horowitz at Toronto Orthotics Foot, Leg and Back Pain Clinic at (647) 349-4909. You may also submit the form on this page to ask Dr. Horowitz a question.