Arthritis and Nature’s Way

picture of 3 joints depicting normal and arthritic
Dealing with Arthritic Joints 

Dealing With Arthritis Naturally

Millions of people suffer from some form of arthritis.  It is commonly believed that arthritis is incurable, at least by standard medicine.  The typical Western medical response is medication to reduce the symptoms of the disease.

However, research shows that pain and disability caused by arthritis can be alleviated and even prevented through diet, nutritional supplements, environmental medicine, bodywork, stress reduction and other alternative therapies.

There are over 100 types of arthritis.  It is among the oldest known affliction of mankind.  Common features include inflammation of the joints, surrounding tendons, ligaments and cartilage.  It can limit one’s movements such as walking, standing, even holding a pencil.  It affects people of all ages including children.

The three most common forms of arthritis is what we will focus on in this article.  Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form and it is estimated that nearly 21 million Americans suffer from this disease.  Rheumatoid Arthritis is less common, but it is a serious and painful joint disease often resulting in crippling disabilities.  Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid in the body and affects about 3 out of every 1000 people, with males over the age of 30 the largest group that have the disease.

Osteoarthritis causes the breakdown of cartilage, the lining protecting the ends of the bones.  By the age of 65 approximately 75% of the population has evidence of osteoarthritis.  Under the age of 45 more men then women will have the disease due in most part to accidents and injuries.

The symptoms of osteoarthritis are a mild early morning stiffness.  This stiffness will also be noticed following periods of rest.  The pain worsens on joint use, and eventually there may be loss of joint function, local tenderness, soft tissue swelling, creaking and cracking of joints on movements, bony swelling and restricted mobility.

When one digs a bit deeper they find the causes of osteoarthritis are in large part due to the aging process.  Excess weight, general wear and tear on the joints, and a lifetime of inadequate diet and exercise are all contributors.  Hormonal deficiencies may also trigger osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis affects about 2.1 million in the U.S., mostly women.  It usually starts between the ages of 20 – 50 years.  It is a inflammatory disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks its healthy tissues.  This is called an auto-immune disease.  The disease incapacitates the synovial tissue which is the membrane that lines the joints and secretes the lubricant that normally allows bones to move painlessly.  This condition will cause joints to become tender, swollen and even deformed.  It can also spread to other parts of the body.

The symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis usually start slow with a mild discomfort in the joints.  You may feel some morning stiffness and have a low-grade fever.  This may gradually increase with the onset of night sweats, depression, lethargy, fatigue, weakness, and vague joint pain.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto-immune disease and may be brought on by food allergies, nutritional deficiencies, toxicity in the body, abnormal intestinal permeability and microorganism which are causing inflammation within the body.  A genetic susceptibility may also add in the mix of causes.

Gout is the final common arthritis found in the population.  This is caused by a build-up of uric acid in the body.  It could be caused by the foods eaten, or it could be the body begins to create too much of its own uric acid, or does not adequately eliminate uric acid from the body.

Uric acid crystallized in the joints, cartilage, and synovial tissue and fluid, causing sharp needle like pain in joints.  One may also experience fever, chills, and loss of mobility.  Some additional problems encountered with gout may include: constipation, indigestion, headaches, depression, eczema and hives.  Those who suffer from gout have an increased risk of heart and kidney problems as well.

Half of the people that suffer from gout will have their first attack characterized by intense pain in the 1st joint of a big toe.  Initial gout attacks usually strike at night and are preceded by a specific event such as: excessive alcohol ingestion, trauma, certain drugs or surgery.

The causes of gout are many which include metabolic or kidney problems, not balancing uric acid within the body.  Most gout is initiated through poor life choices such as obesity, rich food, and alcohol.  Uric acid can be found in a host of foods such as: meats, especially organ meats, sausages, and other processed meats.  Uric acid is also found in anchovies, crab, shrimp, milk, eggs, and many beans including soy.

The best option to fighting arthritis is through prevention.  Even with a genetic disposition, through healthy lifestyle choices you may never encounter the disease.  Eat the right foods, maintain a normal body weight, get your body to a more alkaline level, drink plenty of wate, and keep active.

For those suffering with arthritis, here are a few ways you can treat the symptoms:
1) Bodywork such as yoga, massage, rolling, are all good techniques to get your body into proper postural alignment.  It will also help to stimulate your circulatory system which can restore health to your joints.
2) Chiropractic work has been proven to be a highly effective remedy for arthritis.  Manipulation can help restore proper movement and positioning of joints.  Frequent manipulation helps decrease accumulation of scar tissue after injury, thus preventing later osteoarthritic changes in joints.  In some cases it may actually reverse the damage of osteoarthritis.
3) Breathing exercises, also known as pranayam can relieve stiffness of joints.
4) Those suffering from gout it is recommended to eat 1/2 pound of dark red cherries or blue berries every day.  These foods are rich in compounds that favorably affect collagen, metabolism and reduce inflammation of the joints.
5) Add aloe to your daily smoothie.  Aloe’s healing properties will reduce inflammation of the joints.
6) Acupuncture is particularly helpful with rheumatoid arthritis. It reduces aggressiveness of the body against its own tissue.  Acupuncture also takes a whole system approach to balance the immune system.
7) Ayurvedic medicine utilizes yoga, massage and breathing techniques to alleviate and in some cases eliminate arthritis all together.