Joint pain. The single most common issue besides various issues of the spine within the field of chiropractic. The body has multiple types of joints including ball and socket, saddle, gliding, condyloid, hinge, pivot, and facet, all of which are in different parts of the body. These types of joints can also all be treated with chiropractic. As chiropractic providers, there are numerous ways to address the common issue of joint pain, whether that’s in the spine, knee, hip or otherwise. In fact, osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis and arthritis the most common cause of joint pain, affects about 528 million people worldwide.
Benefits of Chiropractic for Joint Pain
Types of Joint Pain & Treatment Protocols
There can be multiple causes to joint pain acutely like an injury or a chronic issue like arthritis. It is dependent on the symptoms that we can tell where the root cause for the patient.
Common Causes & Symptoms for Joint Pain:
- Osteoarthritis – usually in patients over 45 years old, and the pain is worse when walking. The area of concern is stiffer after movement.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – the pain is made worse after not moving (such as when the patient wakes up) and stiffness and pain is felt on both sides of the body.
- Sprain/Strain – bruising, pain, or swelling after repetitive or rigorous exercise.
- Joint Infection – swollen joint, hot to the touch, comes along with a fever or feeling shivery and hot.
- Bursitis – swollen joint, hot to the touch, and is more painful when pressed or with movement.
- Gout – swollen toe (most often the big toe), hot to the touch, and sudden severe pain.
- Fibromyalgia – widespread pain in the joints and muscles.
- Tendinitis – pain and inflammation in the tendons.
As chiropractic providers, we are amongst a sea of doctors who treat joint pain for patients. Obtaining specialized certifications for the various joints will aid in standing out to patients on the hunt for treatment, as well as stand out online which is the main source of information for patients in this day and age. Although protocol will be similar in most types of joint pain when it comes to chiropractic treatment, it is important to refresh ourselves on the basics of each type of joint pain as well as options for treatment. While there are many types of joint pain, there are several that we see most often within a chiropractic office, and at the top of that list both statistically and professionally, is knee pain.
Knee Joint Pain:
- Knee pain affects 1 in 4 Americans making it one of the most common types of joint pain. Chiropractic treatment can help palpate the nerves to improve blood circulation and decrease inflammation in the knee.
- Common chiropractic treatment protocols for knee pain include soft tissue therapies like massage or trigger point, therapeutic exercises, manual adjustments, and nutritional and lifestyle modifications.
- The goal of treatment for knee pain with chiropractic is to decrease inflammation and improve mobility in the joint to improve quality of life. Other treatment options that may be useful would be ultrasound, electrotherapy, or cold laser.
Sacroiliac Joint Pain:
- The commonness of sacroiliac pain is overall around 25%, and chiropractic treatment is often the first line of defense when treating sacroiliac pain.
- Most often the most common, and universally beneficial treatment options for sacroiliac pain are HVLA thrust and low velocity, low amplitude thrust. However, this should always be dependent on what can be tolerated by the patient to achieve the optimal outcome.
- Low velocity techniques are advised for this type of joint pain. Techniques to be utilized are the drop-table, Cox, activator tool, adjusting blocks, and long-axis leg traction. Using these techniques will improve mobility for the patient. An x-ray may also be needed if the patient shows any signs of issues with scoliosis.
- A study done in 2020, Evaluation of the Effect of Chiropractic Manipulative Treatment on Oxidative Stress in Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction, it concluded that manipulation was “considerably useful” in sacroiliac joint dysfunction even up to one month after treatment.
Shoulder Joint Pain:
- As much as 70% of people over 80 years old and 30% of people under 70 years old have rotator cuff tears. For patients that want to avoid surgery, as many do, chiropractic treatment can be a coup.
- The goal of chiropractic treatment for shoulder joint pain is to obviously relieve pain, but also to restore full function/range of motion, and rehabilitate the area. It is essential to look at each shoulder issue individually based on thorough history. Chiropractic providers should aim to rehabilitate shoulder joint pain in 6-8 weeks of chiropractic treatment.
- Important note is that is a patient presents with a grade I or II tear is treatable but complete tears should be referred to surgery.
- Specific exercises at home to aid in increasing strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the shoulder joint.
Hip Joint Pain:
- Hip pain is another very common condition treated with chiropractic. When it comes to treating hip pain, it is usually necessary to get a set of x-rays of the hip and spine to rule out other issues. Misaligned hips will cause pain in the hip as well as other areas of the body due to the body overcompensating for that misalignment.
- Similar to the joints above, treatment options are heat and cryotherapy, at-home exercises, ultrasound, massage, electrotherapy, and manual adjustments. This joint is seen often because it takes on a great deal of the body’s abuse as we age especially those with an active lifestyle.
- Our goal in chiropractic treatment is to restore full function to the hip joint, and understand the patients’ unique constitution when it comes to their hip both from a chiropractic perspective as well as standard care for optimal results.
Ultimately, the benefit of chiropractic treatment for joint pain is that it is a less harmful modality as well as helpful in giving patients their quality of life back. Many patients lose their sense of self when they lose the full abilities that joint pain takes away, and if we can give any of that back through effective chiropractic treatment, that’s really all that matters.