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What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is the active inflammation of a joint.

“Arthro” meaning joint, “itis” meaning inflammation. The inactive process, or condition is known as “arthrosis”. What this means in common terms, is that the bones have inflamed or become swollen, and the joint itself will not function as intended. This can cause the joint to be painful to move, or in it’s most advanced stages, completely immovable.

There are many different types of arthritis.

Types of Arthritis

The most common being Osteoarthritis. Other common types of arthritis are rheumatoid, psoriatic and neurogenic. The lesser types are still fairly common, but present with a multitude of other issues, beyond arthritic pain. The bone-on-bone inflammation is caused by other conditions such as lost of nervous connection to the area, psoriasis or rheumatoid nodules.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by rheumatic disease, an autoimmune disorder that attacks specific joints in the body.  The main difference is that this variant of arthritis isn’t caused by excessive wear, it causes excessive wear. Rheumatic arthritis causes “nodules” to form within the bone, causing it to grow from the inside out, eventually weakening the bone itself.

These areas as known as “rheumatic nodules”. When these nodules grow, they typically cause the joint to remodel due to the excessive bone growth. This remodeling, causes pain, very similar to OA, but in non-typical areas for OA. The differentiation is paramount for this condition, as the cause could not be any different. OA vs RA is 100% different in their treatment.  OA requires careful rebalancing of the muscles and a proper exercise regimen to limit progress and pain. RA typically requires diet changes, and medication to treat properly. Physical medicine has to treat RA gently, as some treatments may cause damage instead of improving joints.

Rheumatic disease is confirmed via blood testing, but it does have a frequent “false negative” meaning it’s possible to have symptoms, gets tested and have it show up as negative (not having the disease) when you still actually do.  For confirmation, there is usually frequent testing required.


Osteoarthritis, commonly abbreviated OA, is a condition where the cartilage around the ends of bones becomes damaged, and exposes the bone end underneath.  When this happens, the bone ends in the joint can then touch (with impact force applied to the joint) and this causes inflammation of the joint capsule. This inflammation causes excessive bone remodeling with time, which continually deforms and generates pain.  This condition has been further detailed here and here.

Arthritis Treatments

The most important distinction to make in terms of bone pain, is to properly obtain a diagnosis, to better specify exactly where the pain is coming form and why it is there. Each of the types of arthritis listed above have completely different mechanisms of development as well as treatment procedures.

Osteoarthritis is definitively determined with radiographic images (commonly called X-rays).  These images will show bone damage/remodeling called “osteophytes”. These images must also be matched up with a proper clinical examination, as many Americans demonstrate signs of OA on radiographs, but don’t have any of the clinical signs of the condition.  This means they have a very mild case that is not yet “clinical” and mild treatment should be recommended. (improved diet and fitness). More advanced cases require more advanced treatment techniques.

Rheumatic disorders require blood tests to confirm their presence, which must also be added to the clinical examination.  The blood tests are not always accurate, so frequent or repeated tests are sometimes necessary, in the presence of strong clinical presentation.

Are you experiencing discomfort from arthritis? Work with a Buffalo Chiropractor that can help you.

At Herrington Family Chiropractic, proper examination and diagnosis is paramount. Dr. Herrington works with your other providers to guarantee the best care for you, the patient. The goal is to get you better, or to get you to the best providers in order to achieve that.

If you’ve been living with foot or ankle pain, contact us to schedule your consult.

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