Not Just a Disease of the Elderly: Six Million Canadians Are Impacted by Arthritis

September is Arthritis Awareness in Canada.

With over 100 different forms of the disease, arthritis impacts six million Canadians of all ages, including children.

Arthritis care costs the Canadian economy an estimated $33 billion per year and leads to more deaths than HIV/Aids, melanoma and asthma.

Arthritis is often invisible to those who don’t have it and is much more serious than most think. Unfortunately, it is also plagued by misconceptions – like the belief that arthritis only involves minor aches and pains and only impacts older people.

Worldwide, arthritis is one of the most common conditions affecting the joints. Not just a disease of the elderly, arthritis can strike anyone at any time, regardless of age, health and ethnic background.

Arthritis is a disease that swells, stiffens and can damage irreversibly the moveable joints in the body. The inflammation it causes can affect internal organs and eyesight and can contribute to pre-mature death — there is no cure.

People with arthritis live in pain, often severe, and are limited in their ability to go about day to day living. They have a higher than average battle with fatigue, poor mental health and an inability to stay employed due to the symptoms they experience.

The Facts about Arthritis

  • Arthritis is a category of disease that includes more than 100 types, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid, lupus, fibromyalgia, gout and scleroderma.
  • In 2000, three of every five people with arthritis were younger than 65.
  • Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in Canada.
  • Each year, approx 100,000 Canadians are diagnosed with arthritis. The average age of onset is between 41 and 50. About one in six Canadians aged 15 and older has some form of the disease and two-thirds of those affected are women.
  • The most common type of arthritis in Canada is osteoarthritis, affecting 1 in 10 Canadians.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common type of arthritis, affecting 1 in 100 Canadians. You can get rheumatoid arthritis at any age, but it most often appears between the ages of 25 and 50.
  • Arthritis affects nearly twice as many Canadian women as men.
  • Arthritis costs Canadians more than $4 billion each year in health-care expenses and lost productivity.

Two of the most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. While they might sound similar, they have very different causes and symptoms.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common kind of arthritis. It is characterized by “wear and tear” of the cartilage on either end of the bone.

With time, the cartilage may break down causing the two ends of the joints to rub against each other. It occurs when cartilage (the tough elastic material that covers and protects the ends of the bones) begins to wear away. Cartilage is an essential part of the joint; not only does it act as a shock absorber; it also enables the joint to move smoothly.

How Osteoarthritis Affects Your Body

With osteoarthritis, the cartilage erodes, eventually resulting in pain, stiffness, swelling and bone-on-bone movement in the affected joint. In the spine, osteoarthritis can cause stiffness in the neck and lower back. Cervical arthritis affects the upper spine and neck. Lumbar or lumbosacral arthritis affects the lower back and pelvic area.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that can affect the entire body. The body’s own immune system mistakenly identifies normal joints as “abnormal,” resulting in an inflammation which can be extensive and painful. If the inflammation is not controlled, damage to the surrounding cartilage and bone within the joint can occur.

How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects Your Body

With rheumatoid arthritis, the target of the immune attack is tissue in the lining of the healthy joints, resulting in damage to cartilage, bone, tendons and ligaments; sometimes, in other internal destruction. Rheumatoid arthritis usually begins slowly, starting in a few joints and then spreading to other joints over a few weeks to a few months. As time goes on, rheumatoid arthritis involves more and more joints on both sides of the body often in a “symmetrical” pattern.

Chiropractic for Arthritis

Chiropractic care has been proven effective in treating arthritis and its symptoms. At Pickering Village Chiropractic and Massage, chiropractors Dr. John Noble and Dr. Mark Fera treat patients who live with both genetic and non-genetic related forms of arthritis.

How Does Chiropractic Help Arthritis?

Chiropractic for arthritis addresses the practical issue of getting the body to move more freely. Once the body is aligned to move with fewer restrictions, the need for pain medication lessons, or disappears altogether.

Chiropractic as a regular treatment will also help prevent arthritis, or at least its damaging effects. Dr. Noble and Dr. Fera believe this form of prevention is probably the most crucial benefit in treating the disease.

The lifestyle changes and therapies associated with chiropractic influence diet, exercise and maintaining the body’s alignment will offset health problems that might accompany arthritis. Proper weight and a healthy immune system are both important facts in limiting the devastating effects of all forms of arthritis, especially osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

To learn more about how regular chiropractic and massage therapy treatments can help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis, contact Pickering Village Chiropractic and Massage to book a consultation. 

Click here to learn more about how you can support the #ArthritisIsSerious campaign.