There are many forms of arthritis but the two we hear about most often are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects the whole joint including bone, cartilage, ligaments and muscles.
The symptoms of Osteoarthritis may include:
- Localised joint pain (often described as a deep ache), worsened by movement and improved with rest.
- Damage to joint cartilage; the protective cushion on the ends of your bones which allows a joint to move smoothly
- Bony spurs growing around the edge of a joint
- Deterioration of ligaments; the bands that hold your joint together and tendons; cords attaching the muscles to bones.
- Morning stiffness or stiffness after inactivity for more than 15 minutes
- Soft tissue swelling
- Warmth on palpation
- Bony crepitus; grinding sound on movement
- Limited range of motion
- Muscle atrophy; decrease in muscle size
- Bony hypertrophy causing gross deformities
Osteoarthritis can affect any joint but occurs most often in the knees, hips, finger joints and big toe. It may develop at any age but tends to be more common in people aged over 40 years or those who have had joint injuries.
The major contributing factors to the onset of osteoarthritis include:
- Poor diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Bowel Toxicity
- Insulin resistance
- Increasing age
- Genetic predisposition
- History of inflammatory disease
- Congenital bone and joint disorders
- Crystalline deposition in joints
- Trauma to or near the joint (acute or chronic)
- Mechanical factors (e.g. unequal lower limb lengths)
- Repetitive stressful joint use
- Wilson’s disease (a genetic disorder that prevents the body from metabolising copper)
- Hypo-parathyroidism (rare condition that occurs when the parathyroid glands in the neck do not produce enough parathyroid hormone (PTH)
- Haemochromatosis (too much iron in the blood)
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes pain and swelling of the joints. The normal role of the immune system is to fight off infections to keep you healthy. In an autoimmune disease, the immune system is over stimulated and attacks healthy tissues. In Rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system targets the lining of the joints, causing inflammation and joint damage. Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects smaller joints, such as the joints in the hands and feet. However larger joints such as the hips and knees can also be affected.
The symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis vary from person to person. The most common symptoms may include:
- Joint pain, swelling, and tenderness to touch
- Stiffness in the joints, especially in the morning
- Symmetrical (the same joints on both sides of the body are affected).
For further information go to www.arthritisaustralia.com.au
So how do we treat arthritis? It’s a question I am often asked and given the uniqueness of
us all individually; treatment protocols are going to reflect this. Generally, changes to diet and lifestyle may assist in the management of osteoarthritis.
- Exercise and non-traumatic range-of-motion exercises are essential for management of osteoarthritis; including yoga, Pilates and aqua-aerobics.
- Acupuncture has been shown to assists with management of symptoms.
- Adjunctive soft tissue therapy treatment such as massage, physiotherapy, cranio-sacral therapy and/or Bowen therapy may be recommended.
- Eliminate inflammatory foods such as refined foods, sugar, saturated fats (meat and dairy products), alcohol, and caffeine.
- Eat whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, protein, and essential fatty acids (cold-water fish, nuts, and seeds).
- Eliminate all food allergens from the diet.
- Improve gut flora by consuming fermented foods such as quality yoghurt (no added sugar), sauerkraut, miso, natto, kombucha, and kefir. Or consuming a good quality pro-biotic.
- The addition of anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric and omega 3 fatty acids – fish oil
- Provide additional support for the immune system by supplementing with nutrients and herbs
If you would like further support or advice with the management of arthritis please give me a call.