I’m 28 years old and my doctor told me I have arthritis. How is this possible? That is a great question and YES you could have arthritis at this young age. Dr. Mazgaloff, a San Francisco chiropractor explains.
Not too long ago, arthritis was deemed to be just another facet of the aging process – something someone 55y.o and older would have to suffer through. Today arthritis is no longer a disease of old age, it is seen in people as young as 13 years of age.
There are TWO different conditions known as “arthritis”. By definition, “arthritis” is inflammation of the joints. But, there are actually two kinds of “arthritis”. First, there’s osteoarthritis, sometimes referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis. This includes DJD or Degenerative Joint Disease. Then, there is rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the kind that most commonly is seen at young age. DJD or osteoarthritis of the spine, is usually caused by bones in the spine that are not in alignment and/or postural distortions. The first sign of wear and tear seen on a x-ray is roughening of the bone, joint surface and alteration of the normal curves in the neck and lower back. This translates into the common symptoms of stiff joints, muscle spasm, aches and pain in the neck and pain in the lower back with movement, and decrease of normal range of motion. Dr. Mazgaloff, a San Francisco chiropractor at Chiro-Health, Inc comments, “In the past 15 years in practice we have seen increased amount of children and young adults come in for chiropractic care with begging signs of osteoarthritis. That is no surprise due to increased sitting at the computer and student desks, heavy backpacks, playing videogames, texting, just to name a few. As you go through the day pay attention at how much time you spend hunched over and looking down.” In the more advanced osteoarthritis that sets in older age discs wear away and your body tries to stabilize the area. On x-ray, this looks like little bone spurs, which are not as common in young adults and children. Development of bone spurs is actually the body trying to fuse these vertebrae in order to protect you.
The standard medical approach to “wear and tear” arthritis is self-medication with over-the-counter painkillers and NSAIDS, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Tylenol, Advil, etc., prescription painkillers and eventually surgery. All of these aim at relieving the symptoms, but not correcting the cause.
The only alternative to the above is natural and safe chiropractic treatment. When diagnosed and treated early not only the neck pain or the back pain resolve but the degenerative process is halted. Dr. Mazgaloff explains ” Specific chiropractic adjustments to the affected joints by a skilled chiropractor and guided by x-ray findings restore affected joint function, alignment and stop the generative process. However this needs to be supported with proper exercises to maintain the alignment and change of lifestyle habits. Young people are very responsive to chiropractic care, so treatment plans are usually short, but intensive. The result is restoration of full range of motion, resolved muscle spasm and tightness, back pain relief, or neck pain relief, better spinal alignment/posture and improved quality of life. When patients maintain that proper alignment, they become stronger which helps keep them from coming back. That is a great motivator.”
The first place that arthritis sets in young adults is the neck or the cervical spine. If you wonder whether you may have the begging signs of arthritis in the neck, Dr. Mazgaloff recommends that you do those simple range of motion tests in front of a mirror in your normal posture. When you turn your head to the side observe if the nose aligns with the small bump of your shoulder. During a neck extension the forehead needs to be parallel to the floor without neck pain and feeling of compression. When in flexion your chin should comfortably touch the chest without strain and neck pain. When bending your neck to the left and right side, your ear should be an inch away from the shoulder, but do not lift the shoulder to the ear. If any of these movements are restricted or there is neck pain you should look for a reputable chiropractor and get checked. Take a pre-emptive strike on osteoarthritis, it is the best way to prevent it in years to come.
If you have questions or comments about this article, or would like to reach Dr. Mazgaloff, chiropractor San Francisco, send her an e-mail at www.chirohealthsf.com.