Blog #60: Arthritis Pain? Holistic Medicine Can Help!
Arthritis is one of the most common ailments in the U. S., causing in pain and limitation for millions of people. The more than 100 types of arthritis share one thing in common: inflammation of the joints. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in workers in the U. S., affecting over 50 million people today. This blog will discuss three main types of arthritis: osteoarthritis, gout and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Of the three, osteoarthritis is the most common, affecting 32 million people in the U.S. Osteo is by far the easiest to address with holistic medicine. Although osteoarthritis can affect any or all of the joints in the body, it is not as inflammatory as most other types of arthritis, and usually responds well to heat, regular exercise, an anti-inflammatory diet, and weight loss, if needed. Osteo is often found among the middle aged and elderly, or in the joints of those people who have been injured. Helpful exercises include swimming, Yoga, Tai Chi, and Chi Gong. Also helpful are therapies that improve blood and energy flow in the body, such as chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture, especially including moxabustion, the use of a special type of heat produced by burning the herb mugwort at or near acupuncture points.
Gout is quite different from osteoarthritis. Gout is more likely to develop when a person’s diet is very rich, and high in purines, alcohol, fat, sugar, and/or caffeine. Symptoms include swollen, inflamed great toes. Sometimes ankles, knees or hips are also involved, as well as low back pain associated w/kidney damage from uric acid crystals depositing in joints and forming kidney stones. Certain foods tend to break down into large amounts of uric acid. These foods include red and organ meats, turkey, some seafood, such as scallops, alcohol, especially beer, sugary drinks, caffeinated foods like chocolate or coffee, and greasy or fried foods. Holistic treatment of gout includes eliminating or greatly reducing the above foods, following an anti-inflammatory diet, chiropractic adjusting, acupuncture, massage, gentle exercise, such as Yoga, Tai Chi or Chi Gong, and sometimes Chinese herbal supplements. Consumption of organic cherries and/or cherry juice can be helpful in reducing pain and swelling.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition seen in adults as well as children. It results in warm, painful and swollen joints that eventually become deformed. Most commonly, the wrists and hands are involved, often symmetrically, though other joints may also be affected. Range of motion eventually decreases. Anemia and fatigue may develop, and heart and lungs may become inflamed. Smoking increases the incidence of RA, as does stress. Pregnancy may diminish the symptoms temporarily, though they often increase after giving birth. It is believed that the disease sometimes has a genetic component. Prescription medications are often used to control Rheumatoid arthritis. Exercise is helpful, and Tai Chi, Chi Gong, and yoga can help increase the joint range of motion. Sometimes fish oil and vitamin D are helpful, as is an anti-inflammatory diet and a life of low stress. Gentle mobilization of the joints through massage and chiropractic, and acupuncture therapy can be very helpful in slowing the progression of the disease and reducing pain.
This month’s offer: contact my office with questions about arthritis and to find out how holistic treatment can be helpful in your particular case.