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Arthritis

A Common Complaint from Today’s Busy People

Each of us has heard from many of our friends and family that they suffer from arthritis. It seems to be common today and we have begun to take it for granted. With the coming of the maturing of the “boomers” we have begun to expect arthritis as part of the aging experience.

Research is uncovering that arthritis has begun to affect people as early as age 25. One of the professional dental assistants I have recently been visiting shared with me that her three year old daughter is suffering from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. I was stunned to hear that.

Arthritis is generally considered an inflammation of the joints leading to pain or tenderness, stiffness, perhaps localized swelling, sometimes a “crunchiness” sound in the joints known as crepitis, and often a loss of full use potential in the affected areas, mainly the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, hips, knees, and ankles. This occurs because joint spaces become narrowed due to a loss of cartilage or crystalline boney deposits. Wear and tear, normal for active people, as well as repetitive motions experienced in work and sports activities accumulates as we age and may cause damage to the collagen matrix covering and padding our joint ends. Our joints are always moving, bone, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, fluids, etc. to enable our actions. Stress and strain on our joints can cause damage that in turn causes irritation and thus inflammation. Surfaces that were once smooth become rough, irritated, and tender. Such inflammation alerts the body to release enzymes that further damage the irritated cartilage.

Two forms of arthritis are more familiarly recognized: Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). We ask ourselves, “What, if I am living a normal active lifestyle, causes me to acquire such a condition?” Some causes may be congenital predisposition as arthritis tends to run in families, such as abnormalities in joint or bone structures. Also trauma, obesity whereby excess weight places additional wear on weight bearing joints, nutritional deficiencies, illness or disease, even previously experienced ones leaving an “imprint” on structures, allergies, immune disorders, stress (and who doesn’t experience stress in our busy lives), and our everyday exposures to environmental pollutants and toxins.

Most of these “symptoms” are addressed with pain relieving medications, and many work well in spite of the variety of side effects. But the causes are the real culprits that must be addressed to bring on the most long lasting results.

Natural therapies have become more widespread in reducing the pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of mobility in affected joints and can work in complement with ongoing medical interventions. As a massage therapist studying holistic nutrition, I have become fascinated with the connection of dietary choices that can accelerate or diminish the symptoms of OA or RA. And, as well, our exposures to industrial pollutants and toxins have lead to many disorders affecting digestion, all with a connection to OA and RA, such as leaky gut syndrome, GERD (acid reflux), candidiasis (overgrowth of yeasts in the gut), allergies, chemical sensitivities, chronic infections, and autoimmune disorders as in ankylosing spondylitis and lupus erythematosis.

The members of The Sandpoint Wellness Council often serve clients suffering from arthritic conditions and seek to find answers and solutions to the many individualistic causes. Following are the therapies they find most effective in relieving the day-to-day symptoms enabling an improvement in pain management, overall health and healing, and mobility. Our goal is to provide information to help you choose a therapy best suited for your needs, and we always welcome your responses to our articles. Please visit our website, www.sandpointwellnesscouncil.com, and share with us your stories, comments, and ideas.

Krystle Shapiro, LMT. Touchstone Massage Therapy 208/290-6760

When joints are stiff and inflamed, the surrounding muscles respond by tightening up. The brain sends chemistry to the affected areas signaling the need to protect, and this in turn informs the muscles to react whereby they then further compress the joints. Massage therapy can relax tensed muscles, gently stretch and release spasms, reduce associated pain, and improve overall mobility of joint function.

Ilani Kopiecki, CMT, Ilani Healing CranioSacral, 208/610-2005

The pain and inflammation from arthritis can be miserable and sometimes debilitating. Through the release work of CranioSacral Therapy, tight tissues brought on by arthritis can be softened, enabling blood flow and oxygen to surge into inflamed areas, providing pain relief and mobility. Since CranioSacral Therapy is based on light touch, the affected area can be treated without much invasive manipulation, thus preventing more discomfort for the client.

Owen Marcus, MA, Certified Advance Rolfer, 208/265-8440, www.align.org

In thirty years of practice, I’ve worked with many people who were diagnosed with arthritis. After Rolfing, the symptoms usually went away when the soft tissue tension left. In this country, we traditionally had little understanding of how soft tissue (muscles and fascia – the tissue that holds everything together) affects all aspects of our existence. Last summer, my colleagues produced the first international conference on fascia at Harvard Medical School for clinicians and researchers. It was so successful that another one is planned.

Often, someone who has osteoarthritis will tell me that the joint they injured many years ago is now the joint with arthritis. Previous trauma creates a cascade of body responses that can end with a joint locking up. By releasing the effect of the trauma in the soft tissue, we can often prevent–and in few cases, reverse–arthritis. I will be the first to admit, however, that after a joint has deteriorated, removing the soft tissue strain may be of little benefit to the joint – Rolfing can prevent other areas from tightening.

Penny Waters, Reflexology and Herbs, Relaxation Destination, 208/597-4343, sunpen54@yahoo.com

Whether suffering from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, a client will benefit from reflexology and herbs. They decrease inflammation and pain and help prevent a worsening condition. Reflexology is proven to improve blood circulation. This means stagnant, inflamed areas are flushed so swelling decreases and soreness improves. With improved circulation the liver cleanses and kidneys filter impurities more frequently, which reduces toxicity that promotes inflammation.

Reflexology will help stimulate the natural release of cortisone from the adrenal glands which reduces inflammation and pain. The relaxation of reflexology coupled with the improved circulation results in joints feeling less stiff as well as less painful. It’s wonderful that improvement can happen in painful places without having to touch them directly.

Herbs are selected for their specific properties which will benefit the person with arthritis. I look for herbs which will reduce inflammation and swelling and support liver and kidney function. Burdock is an excellent choice for these goals. Cleansing herbs that will penetrate into muscles and tissue walls; cleansers that will break down organic waste such as uric acid; pain relieving herbs; herbs with high levels of vitamin C to return an acid system to an alkaline system will all be combined into a formula for relief.

Lifestyle support is very valuable so I make the following suggestions: Movement/exercise will help stiff joints from becoming heavily arthritic. Do a little every day. Reduction of highly acidic foods (examples are meats, acidic fruit) will also support a return to well-being. I encourage my clients to do their best to make dietary changes that will help them feel better. All kinds of supportive ideas are available in a little booklet I have for my clients for easy reference. Reflexology and herbs offer a safe and healthy way to relieve the symptoms of arthritis. Check with your doctor, as always, and then discover the help that is available.

Mario Roxas, Naturopathic Physician, 208/946-0984

Arthritis is an inflammatory condition affecting the joints. There are several potential factors that can contribute to an individual developing arthritis. Such factors include genetics, age, weight, previous injuries, illness or infection, and chronic repetitive movements as associated with a job or a sport. Mounting clinical evidence suggests that dietary habits and potential nutritional deficiencies can also be significant contributing factors to arthritis.

As a naturopathic physician I work with patients not only to diminish their arthritis, but get to the cause of their pain and inflammation. This involves taking a fairly comprehensive personal medical history that looks at all those factors mentioned above, from family history, to past illnesses and injuries, to occupation, hobbies and level of physical activity. This medical history also includes taking an in-depth look at a patient’s diet. Once this done, I develop a treatment plan that outlines specific nutritional considerations and dietary recommendations that can help lessen inflammation and promote healing for that particular individual. I may also incorporate anti-inflammatory herbs to further help soothe pain and promote relaxation and soft tissue repair, and physiotherapeutic modalities, such as hydrotherapy, stretching, and various bodywork techniques, to help increase circulation, reduce stress, and enhance flexibility.

At this point it is important to note is that there is no one set treatment plan. For instance, if 10 people came to the office diagnosed with arthritis, they may all share similar general symptoms, but their root cause may be different. For one person it may be an underlying nutritional deficiency. For another, an immune function issue. And for yet another it may be a metabolism issue. Consequently, each person may leave with a different treatment plan. One thing that is consistent with each plan is my adherence to the principles of naturopathic medicine which are: First, do no harm, address the cause not just the symptom, treat the whole individual not just the injury, help the body heal itself, and promote prevention and wellness. Please visit my website at: www.drroxas.com

Kristine Battey MSPT, ATC, CSCS, HLC, Owner Divine Health & Fitness, www.divinehf.com, 208-946-7072

I have worked with many people with varying levels of arthritis. I teach people exercises designed to preserve and increase the strength and use of their joints. People who suffer from arthritis usually always feel better after exercising. Exercise helps the joints to become looser and glide better which in turn decreases the amount of pain and stiffness a person may suffer from.

An exercise session may begin with low or non-impact aerobic exercise such as the stationary bike or elliptical machine to warm up the body and begin to loosen the joints. Aerobic exercise also strengthens the heart, helps to maintain weight, and increases the overall fitness level. The more fit a person with arthritis is, the easier the disease is to manage and the more active and pain-free the person is likely to be. Gentle range of motion exercises are another type of exercise that moves the joint through it’s full range of motion helping to relieve stiffness, improving and maintaining joint mobility, and increasing flexibility. Strengthening exercises preserve and increase muscle strength, increase the person’s general level of fitness, and help to maintain overall body strength and weight.

Any exercise program that I design is always tailored to the individual’s disease and limitations. Any movement is better than no movement and will improve the person’s quality of life significantly.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

best anti inflammatory May 16, 2014 at 11:01 am

If you have already come down with a cold you can reap the benefits of Echinacea even half way through the cold, but it works best if you
take it when you first start to come down with any of the symptoms associated with
a cold. Packaged and highly processed foods as well as
fast foods are some of the worst culprits.

Treating rheumatoid arthritis is vastly more complex than osteoarthritis, and if joints hurt
for more than a few days even with rest, a doctor should always be consulted.

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