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Woman in pain from Osteoarthritis and needing Treatment

Osteoarthritis vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis and How They Affect Spine Health

Often, the term “arthritis” is used as a catch-all. People generally associate it with any sort of joint pain or stiffness. It’s important to understand that within this general umbrella term, there are actually different types of arthritis. Just like there’s a difference between the common cold and the flu, there’s a difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, for example.

These two forms of arthritis in particular are frequently confused because of their similar symptoms. However, they are completely separate conditions with different causes. Understanding the key differences between them is crucial to treating each, as well as coping with their chronic symptoms.

When they present in the spine or peripheral areas (neck, low back), chiropractors are a foremost authority on dealing with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. The seasoned team at Stability Health Center in Seattle, WA works to properly diagnose and treat different forms of arthritis, using an individualized Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) treatment plan. Our goal is to help you fight back against arthritis without relying on damaging painkillers.

Comparing osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis can be hard to classify. While sufferers have little to no inclination between the different types, even seasoned medical professionals can have trouble properly diagnosing them. The chief reason is due to the overarching similarities of the umbrella “arthritis” diagnosis, including:

  • Symptoms for both diseases include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, especially in the morning.
  • Both conditions affect millions of Americans a year.
  • Both are chronic, non-curable conditions that present with ongoing, almost daily symptoms.
  • All forms of arthritis tend to be more common among older people, especially older women.

Despite their many similarities, however, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have significant differences. It’s these differences that medical professionals and chiropractors will look to in order to differentiate the specific condition of a patient.

First and foremost, osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition resulting from wear and tear. It primarily affects joint cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disorder that results in joint swelling throughout the body. This presentation is a key distinguishing feature that makes diagnosis easier.

Osteoarthritis may result from repetitive stress or from past injuries that haven’t healed correctly, whereas the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known. Both may be linked to genetic factors. Osteoarthritis is also a gradually developing condition. Over the course of several months, the pain will get worse and worse. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, has a rapid onset of symptoms that often cause severe pain.

What to do with a diagnosis?

A chiropractor is important in providing an accurate diagnosis. Through radiological imaging, analysis of symptoms, and a thorough physical examination, a chiropractor will pinpoint the cause of chronic back pain as it relates to arthritis. Once a specific diagnosis has been confirmed, proper treatment can begin.

Treatment for both types of arthritis may include spinal adjustments, physical therapy to strengthen muscles and ligaments, and complementary treatments such as acupuncture or massage. Depending on the nature or severity of the condition, chiropractors may also recommend myofascial release therapy or specific forms of low-impact movements to improve mobility and lessen stress on joints.

Unlike over-the-counter or prescription painkillers, chiropractic is a safe, side-effect-free way to treat both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Many patients report increased range of motion and decreased pain after chiropractic sessions.

A step towards pain-free living

Whether you have a specific diagnosis or you’re living under the umbrella of constant pain, it’s important to seek relief from arthritis. The expert team at Stability Health Center is ready to help Seattle, WA area arthritis patients. Contact us today to learn more about the revolutionary Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) program we use to diagnose and specifically treat arthritis across individual patients.

Chiropractic BioPhysics, or CBP, is one of the most scientific, researched, and results-oriented corrective care techniques. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health, eliminating nerve interference and addressing the source of pain, fatigue, and disease. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is gentle, painless, and non-invasive.

Man receiving a chiropractic adjustment for osteoarthritis

Healthy Approaches to Living with Spinal Osteoarthritis


Millions of Americans suffer from the pain and discomfort of spinal osteoarthritis. This degenerative condition results in the weakening of cartilage in the spine. This is problematic because the spinal column plays a critical role in your overall health. Bone spurs develop to compensate for the loss of cartilage, causing long-term pain issues, as well as peripheral problems for spinal support.

Chiropractic can effectively mitigate the symptoms of spinal osteoarthritis. Many patients living with the condition who use chiropractic to manage it report results on everything from reduced pain to improved range of movement. At Stability Health Center, we’ve seen firsthand how chiropractic can help Seattle, WA patients fight back against spinal osteoarthritis.

Understanding spinal arthritis

Osteoarthritis is a condition can be broken down into two categories: cervical arthritis (affecting the neck and upper back) and lumbar arthritis (affecting the lower back). With lower back and pelvis pain, the sacroiliac joint malfunctions, causing pain to spread. For cervical conditions, this is referred to as spondylosis, and may present as pain in the shoulders, neck, and upper back.

In both variations, misalignment of the spine due to weak vertebral discs can wreak havoc on your central nervous system, as signals are not properly sent via the spine.

Symptoms and management

Osteoarthritis can be caused by anything from genetics to lifestyle. Its symptoms present the same: localized pain, weakness and fragility, soreness, and restricted range of motion. No matter what the cause, it is possible to manage symptoms of the condition with the right approach. This is where chiropractic comes in.

Chiropractic is a natural, holistic way to treat spinal osteoarthritis. Your chiropractor will tailor a treatment program designed to pinpoint the causes of your arthritis. All of the following treatments are possible options for spinal osteoarthritis patients:

  • Spinal manipulation: At the core of chiropractic is resetting the vertebrae. This is especially important for arthritis patients to restore joint function.
  • Massage therapy: This is useful in relieving stress and muscle tension, increasing blood flow to areas of the spine and back affected by the condition.
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): Involves sending tiny electrical signals to reduce nerve sensitivity near the spine. This treatment is safe and has few side effects, with many patients reporting reduced pain following stimulation.

The reason chiropractic is so effective in managing pain is because its holistic and encompassing. While osteoarthritis may affect one specific part of the spine, chiropractic addresses the entire spine, alleviating peripheral stress and tension that may further burden patients. And, because it’s focused on spinal reset instead of masking pain, relief is real and repeatable.

Living the fullest life

Don’t let spinal arthritis and its associated pains limit your daily activities. Instead, explore what chiropractic has to offer. The professional team at Stability Health Center will develop an individualized treatment plan that’s right for you using Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP). Contact us today for a free consultation and more information about living with osteoarthritis.

Chiropractic BioPhysics, or CBP, is one of the most scientific, researched, and results-oriented corrective care techniques. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health, eliminating nerve interference and addressing the source of pain, fatigue, and disease. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is gentle, painless, and non-invasive.