The September 21, 1999 issue of The Annals of Internal Medicine reports that chiropractic is the most popular and by far the most effective of the wellness disciplines for patients suffering from rheumatologic diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Arthritis is the name given to more than 100 different diseases that cause pain, swelling, and limited movement in joints and connective tissue. One out of every six Americans suffers from some form of arthritis, and unfortunately, the condition can
last a lifetime.

In 1997, Americans made an estimated 629 million visits to practitioners of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), compared with just 388 million visits to primary care physicians that same year. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that many arthritis patients used CAM, and that chiropractic was the most frequently used type of care.

Even more significantly, chiropractic was also near the top of the list in terms of the number of patients who regularly used CAM, and the number of patients who found CAM helpful for their condition.

Source: Rao JK, Mihaliak K, Kroenke K, et al. Use of complementary therapies for arthritis among patients of rheumatologists. Annals of Internal Medicine,   Sept. 1999: Vol. 131, No. 6, pp409-16.

The Annals of Internal Medicine (of all places) published the results of a survey of 232 people who had arthritis and were under a rheumatologists care. Of those 63% responded to the survey by saying they were using some form of “complementary care” as named by the study. Of those people 31% were using chiropractic. These number may themselves be grossly under reported as only 45% of the patients told their doctor about using the other forms of care.

These reported numbers translate to over 19% of the public who is seeing a rheumatologists is also seeing a chiropractor. And if less that half of the patients are telling their doctor about it the actual number may be twice as high.

Possibly the most impressive statistic was that 73% of those trying chiropractic found it helpful. The reasons given why people said they tried the non-medical care was to control pain, because they heard it helps, because it is safe, because it helped someone they know, and because their prescription medication wasn’t working.

In a study of geriatrics by the Rand Corporation it was found that 96% of the population studied who use chiropractic had not used nursing home services in the three years before the study.

81% of those who had received chiropractic care didn’t need the use of a nursing home, a 15% less nursing home usage by the chiropractic patients.

74% of the people under chiropractic care did not need the use of a hospital in the three years prior to the study versus 53% of the study group not under chiropractic care; a 21% difference.     Source: RAND, 1991

Should Arthritis Patients Exercise?

Exercise is critical in successful arthritis management. It helps maintain healthy and strong muscles, joint mobility, flexibility, endurance, and helps control weight. Rest,on the other hand, helps to decrease active joint inflammation, pain, and fatigue. Forbest results, arthritis patients need a good balance between the two: more rest duringthe active phase of arthritis, and more exercise during remission. During acuteystematic flares or local joint flares, patients should put joints gently through their full range of motion once a day, with periods of rest. To see how much rest is best during flares, patients should talk to their health care providers.

Source: Handout on Health: Rheumatoid Arthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Jan. 1998, revised Nov. 1999. Available from Questions and Answers about Arthritis and Exercise. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal andSkin Diseases. May 2001. Available from