Many people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) feels aches and pains and think about going to see a chiropractor as one way to relieve some of their pain. There are pros and cons to including a chiropractor in your rheumatoid arthritis treatment plan. Let's explore.
What Is a Chiropractor?
A chiropractor is a professional who is trained to adjust or manipulate the spine. For many people, visiting a chiropractor regularly can be very helpful for such issues as back pain or a general wellness approach to health. Chiropractors can also help you plan exercise and diet changes that may help with pain and inflammation.
The Pros of Chiropractic Care for Rheumatoid Arthritis
The American Chiropractic Association recommends that chiropractors focus on helping people with rheumatoid arthritis by:
Debra DeMarco, DC, of Monroe Chiropractic Care in Monroe, N.J., who has been in practice for more than 25 years, says working with a chiropractor can indeed make people with RA more comfortable. The "first thing that I would say is that I would never profess to cure it, but I do treat the symptoms by trying to mobilize joints and slowing the progression of the disease," she says.
Most chiropractors use other treatments in addition to manipulation, including massage, physical therapy procedures, or therapeutic exercises. Such therapies might be helpful in someone with RA who has other conditions that could benefit: massage therapy for tight muscles, for example, or ultrasound for a condition of the feet called plantar fasciitis, which causes pain on the bottom of your foot because of tight and inflamed tissues.
The Cons of Chiropractic Care for Rheumatoid Arthritis
"I think that chiropractors provide a very useful service for many different problems," says John M. Stuart, MD, professor of medicine and rheumatology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. "However, their role in RA is somewhat limited."
Dr. Stuart explains that the pain and disability in rheumatoid arthritis is also due to inflammation in the joints as well as vertebrae that may be out of alignment. Medication remains the best way to treat inflammation, says Stuart. Chiropractors cannot prescribe the medications that are needed to treat more severe rheumatoid arthritis.
Finding a Chiropractor for Rheumatoid Arthritis
If you decide that a visit to the chiropractor is right for you, find a reputable chiropractor with experience treating someone with rheumatoid arthritis. Conduct Internet research (Yelp,com, Healthgrades.com, Wellness.com, etc.) and talk to people who have used chiropractors.
As with all health care choices you make, talk to your primary care doctor or rheumatologist. "Communication is the most important thing," says Stuart, who emphasizes that patients should always tell their rheumatologist if they are trying any alternative or complementary therapies.