Oh, My Aching Joints!#?
By Dr. Tim Fargo, Chiropractor
Many of us, especially as we get older, develop one form of arthritis or another. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion about this very prevalent condition. First of all, “arthritis” is defined as any condition wherein there is pain and swelling of a joint or joints. Actually, the term “arthritis” is an umbrella term that is used to describe over 100 medical conditions and diseases, collectively known as “rheumatic diseases”. These various conditions often have nothing in common, except the end result of pain and swelling of joints, tissues around the joint, and connective tissues.
The most common type of arthritis is what is commonly known as “osteoarthritis”, but more recently has come to be known as “degenerative joint disease”. This form of arthritis is generally the result of “wear and tear” in joints such as the hands, hips and knees. As a chiropractor, we also see this very commonly in the spine when there are misalignments and motion abnormalities in spinal joints. What occurs with this type of arthritis is that eventually the cartilage covering the bone surfaces that are moving against each other begins to wear out. Sometimes you hear people talk about having a joint that is “bone-on-bone”. This is often the result of wear and tear. In the medical arena it is common for people to simply take anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medications. While such measures can be effective and are appropriate in some circumstances, it is preferable to also restore proper movement and alignment in affected joints. For example, let’s say a person has degenerative joint disease in their right hip. They might also have a significant right short leg and misalignments in the pelvis and low back. Sometimes the simple act of equalizing leg lengths with a small lift in the shoe and restoring movement in the pelvis and low back will provide significant relief. Also, in lieu of taking medication for inflammation and pain, there are nutrients that can be very effective in achieving those same goals without any side effects. Turmeric, Ginger, Boswellia Root, fish oils, proteolytic enzymes are all effective nutrients that can help fight inflammation. In addition, such things as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate have been shown to have some protective effects on cartilage.
Other rheumatic conditions include Rheumatoid Arthritis (an autoimmune disease), psoriatic arthritis, gout, lupus, and fibromyalgia. These conditions all stem from different causes, some autoimmune and some not. Regardless of cause, all of these conditions, like degenerative joint disease, respond to natural measures to one degree or another.
The role of diet cannot be ignored in the treatment of all rheumatic conditions. Identifying and eliminating food sensitivities/allergies can be very beneficial. I have specifically seen tremendous changes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis by identifying foods to which the person is sensitive and eliminating them from the diet. More generally, the most potent weapon that we have against inflammation is the food we eat. An anti-inflammatory diet would consist of lots of fruits and vegetables, plant-based proteins, cold water fish and a variety of fresh herbs and spices. On the flipside, processed foods and foods with added sugar should be avoided. In addition, white bread, white pasta, processed snack foods, cookies, candy, ice cream, processed and hydrogenated oils, and excess alcohol should also be avoided. Some would say, and I am inclined to agree, that avoiding grains of all sorts can be very beneficial.
While arthritis, in its various forms, can be both troubling and even disabling, it is also true that there is much that can be done. The doctors at Chiropractic Health and Wellness are here to assist you if you, or friends and family, suffer with arthritis. We restore alignment and mobility to affected and surrounding joints. We assist you with your dietary and nutritional choices, perform food sensitivity testing, and recommend appropriate supplemental nutrients. Please do not hesitate to contact us, if you need help.