Health & Fitness

Healthy Tips: 5 Steps to Managing Arthritis

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Enjoy life more, while managing arthritis, with these helpful tips from Dr. Daniel Strelcheck Jr., of Strelcheck Chiropractic Clinic in Crystal Lake.

Dr. Daniel Strelcheck Jr., consults on an x-ray with his dad, Dr. Daniel Strelcheck Sr., who, in 1958, founded Strelcheck Chiropractic Clinic, in Crystal Lake. (Rebecca O’Malley photo)

Dr. Daniel Strelcheck Jr., consults on an x-ray with his dad, Dr. Daniel Strelcheck Sr., who, in 1958, founded Strelcheck Chiropractic Clinic, in Crystal Lake. (Rebecca O’Malley photo)

According to the Arthritis Foundation, one in five adults lives with some form of diagnosed arthritis (osteo- or auto-immune), and approximately 60 percent are under the age of 60. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the country, costing up to $128 billion in medical expenses each year.

Dr. Daniel Strelcheck Jr. knows a great deal about arthritis. He owns Strelcheck Chiropractic Clinic, 10 N. Virginia St./Rt. 14, Crystal Lake, which his father, Dr. Daniel Strelcheck Sr., founded in 1958. Strelcheck Sr. spent five decades treating patients who suffered from headaches, back pain and other ailments. This summer, the elder Strelcheck was selected as medical honoree for the Arthritis Foundation’s 2013 Fox Valley Arthritis Walk.

“I’ve seen some of the most arthritic senior patients in our society, who’ve been able to rehabilitate themselves so that they continue to live with the freedom that they enjoy,” says Strelcheck Jr. “By far, osteoarthritis is the largest category that affects the majority of people, because of the wear and tear on the joints. Everyone will get osteoarthritis in their joints at some point. However, you will get it faster if your joints are misaligned. Many times, we can put the joint back in place and the pain goes away or substantially decreases. The quicker you get your joints aligned, the sooner they slow down the aging process or osteoarthritis. That’s why chiropractic care from childhood is so important. People are starting to figure out that the better we take care of ourselves when we’re younger, the better our quality of life is later.”

1. Align Your Joints

No matter your age, it’s important to keep your body in alignment. This will help to slow down osteoarthritis. Chiropractors are the only licensed health care professionals that can treat a subluxation, or mechanical impediment. However, you can aid in your alignment by strengthening your core back muscles, using good posture and wearing supportive shoes along with orthotics.

2. Keep Moving

The old adage “move it or lose it” is especially important to an arthritic patient. Mobility exercises help to increase the range of motion, encouraging the joints to “oil” themselves. Strelcheck Jr. recommends activities that are within your range of motion, such as swimming, walking and doing yoga. “Always check with your physician for some dos and don’ts, before starting an exercise program of your choice,” he says.

3. Increase Area Blood Flow

Increased blood flow to an arthritic area delivers nutrients for the healing process and cleans arthritic elements from the joint. Both massage and paraffin baths are common methods to increase blood flow. To wake up the joints, arthritic patients should apply heat in the morning.

4. Consider Helpful Anti-Inflammatory Methods

Daily activities will aggravate arthritis and cause inflammation. When a joint is inflamed, it needs to calm down. Strelcheck Jr. suggests applying an ice pack for about an hour, interchanging 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off. More severe cases may require anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or steroid/cortisone shots. “These methods are designed to make your life more comfortable, so you don’t have to deal with the pain and discomfort that comes with age,” he says.

5. Choose a Chiropractor Wisely

Since osteoarthritis can be measured on x-rays, Strelcheck Jr. recommends finding a chiropractor who will take them. A full physical exam with a range-of-motion study will also indicate how much mobility has been lost. “From the diagnosis, the doctor should be able to create a treatment plan that will be beneficial to the patient short- and long-term,” he says. Also helpful is a facility that provides massage and physical therapy.

Living with arthritis is never easy; however, as these tips illustrate, there are ways to make life more enjoyable.

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