What Is Arthritis?

Dr. Georgette Delvaux, DC

They say that all of us will have joint problems and all of us will end up having arthritis eventually. They say all creatures that have a skeleton will end up having arthritis, including those living in the ocean.

Who are they? They are the archeologists who dig up the skeletons of creatures and humans from other times. They are the doctors and veterinarians who look at the skeletons of contemporary beings. They tell us what is normal.

Normal? I don’t think so! They tell us what is average. Let’s not confuse normal and average. If we think average, we have to say the experts are right. If we think normal, and we look at the basic design of our bodies, we see that the design is excellent and made to function well.

So what exactly is arthritis?

The word arthritis means “heat in the joint, inflammation in the joint.” By extension it also means “pain in the joint.”

Arthritis is a slow adaptation to misalignment that may result from accidental injury—or from slowly occurring injury caused by misuse, overuse, or bad habits. Injury of any part of the body causes inflammation. Inflammation is part of healing. If we restore the normal movement of an injured joint, inflammation goes away. If we don’t, inflammation stays.

If we take on bad habits while at the computer, at work, or at the gym, we will feel stiffness at first, then pain. If we do not learn how to rethink the activities that cause the pain we will develop inflammation. If we do not become aware at this point that something is really wrong and seek help, we will develop chronic inflammation, which is the precursor of arthritis.

“We can have treatment that
stops the gradual progression
of joint degeneration.”

Even what is “good for us,” like yoga, dancing, hiking, tennis, or other “beneficial” activities, can be overdone. If we do them to the extent that we will feel stiff and become inflamed, these activities may contribute to the development of arthritis.

They say that arthritis is self-limiting, meaning it will stop by itself. It will do that. Chronic inflammation of a joint will thicken the joint. It is as if the body wants to build a joint that fits the mistakes we keep making. The inner space of the joint gets smaller and smaller, and eventually, after many years, the joint will not move anymore. That is the end of arthritis. It “healed itself” so to speak! This is also the end of mobility.

The pessimists among us call this sad situation normal aging. Again, no! It is average aging!

The same pessimists say that the only creatures on earth with a skeleton that do not get arthritis are bats and sloths. Why is that, and what could bats and sloths possibly have in common? Bats are among the fastest flyers; sloths move so little and so slowly that one almost fails to see them even when looking directly at them. Both species, however, sleep hanging upside down. They inverse the force of gravity during their sleep!

Lesser Horseshoe Bat
(Rhinolophus hipposideros).

The pessimists actually give us good news! If bats and sloths can undo at night what gravity did to them during the day, we can get help and learn to understand how to live in gravity. We can have treatment that stops the gradual progression of joint degeneration and restores the original design and normal motion of our joints.