As you might imagine, arthritis pain and movement difficulties are popular topics in any chiropractic office. The typical statement from patients is “I guess I am just getting old,” or “I was told there is nothing I can do about it, so I guess I just have to live with it.” I am here to tell you, there is much you can do to relieve and even heal arthritis and joint pain!
Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), is by far the most common type of joint problem. It is a deterioration of the cartilage covering the ends of the bones, causing irritation and swelling which can lead to pain with movement. If arthritis progresses and the cartilage wears away further, the ends of the bone can rub together and nerves can become pinched. The most common areas for osteoarthritis are the spine, knees and hands, but it can happen in any joint.
Joints deteriorate due to overuse, injury, improper or reduced joint movement or the introduction of any irritating substance causing inflammation inside of the joint. If you are wondering what “improper or reduced joint movement” is, you are in luck! As a chiropractor, that’s my specialty.
Muscle tension, injury or repetitive daily habits put stress on spinal and other joints and cause reduced joint movement or misalignment. If your body is not able to correct the problem, the joint may remain slightly out of alignment or with a loss of proper motion. With daily use, damage will occur to the cartilage, ligaments or tendons attaching to the joint. The swelling and pain you feel are the results of the deterioration of the joint and your body’s attempt to heal the damage.
As to the “irritating substances” inside the joint, this refers to any chemical, naturally occurring or foreign, that irritates the tissues and joints. These chemicals get inside your body through food, water, air, skin contact or are produced through natural metabolic processes. These substances are supposed to be eliminated through your liver, kidneys, lymphatics and digestive system. If these systems cannot eliminate sufficiently, the toxic or irritating substances can be stored in your fat cells and cause long term irritation, allergies, arthritis and other toxic symptoms.
Now that you have a better picture of what osteoarthritis is, I want you to understand that there is a lot you can do to ease the symptoms and even heal the joints. Detoxification comes to mind first, since that will help your body get rid of much of the toxic substances that may be irritating your joints. Cleaning up your diet is extremely important. The most common offending foods, (after sugar, fast foods and processed foods) are grains and dairy. There are many natural and safe supplements that help with the swelling and inflammation in the joints: glucosamine sulfate has been well documented in the literature as helping to rebuild cartilage in the joints and garlic, ginger, boswelia and turmeric have wonderful anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce harmful chronic inflammation.
I see great improvements in arthritis pain and progression with chiropractic care, which will align the joints, stop the wear and tear and provide improved ease of movement. And probably the most important thing you can do for your arthritis is to keep moving. Regular exercise has been shown to greatly improve joint health and ease the symptoms of arthritis. There is a very good reason for this: your joints depend on movement to stay healthy, rebuild and heal themselves. Most importantly, never forget that your body is constantly repairing and rebuilding itself and ANYTHING can heal given the proper building materials and time.