Arthritis Pain? Stiff and Sore?
Learn what to do to stay more flexible!
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that primarily affects the large, weight bearing joints and the joints in the hands. It is a slow, progressive cartilage deterioration followed by “hardening of the joints” due to calcium and bone spur formation. The “joint cushion” deteriorates, which leads to pain and limited movement of the joint.
Signs and symptoms include:
-Early morning joint stiffness
-Pain that is worse after use
-Stiffness after periods of rest
-Creaking / cracking of joints after movement
-Tenderness and swelling in certain areas
-Pain in the joint before or during changes in the weather
Possible causes include age. In the US, over 80% of the population over about 50 show signs of osteoporosis due to reduced ability of the collagen matrix to repair itself, and also from general wear and tear. Other causes include: obesity, poor diet, genetic predisposition, skeletal defects, hormonal imbalances, injury and food allergies and sensitivities. It develops in joints that are injured by repeated overuse from performing a particular task or playing a favorite sport.
SOME COMMON THERAPIES TO CONSIDER
Do some gentle exercises / stretches before you go to bed. While watching tv or sitting at your desk: Adjust your position frequently, periodically turn your neck from one side to the other, shake out your hands and bend and stretch your legs. Take frequent breaks throughout the day, every few hours, to stretch stiff joints and sore muscles.
Use an analgesic cream to massage the painful joint (s).
When ready for bed, use a moist heat pad on the painful joint. Another option, is to soak in a warm bath with c cup Epsom Salt and c cup Baking Soda. When you wake in the morning, you'll feel less stiffness in your joints.
Make Tasks at Home and Work Easier To Protect Your Joints
Avoid excess stress on your joints by finding products that are comfortable, easy-to-use or have friendly packaging. For example, in the kitchen use rubber jar opens and reachers, in the bedroom use zipper pulls, buttoning aids and bedrails and in the bathroom use tub bars and handrails.
Movement helps to decrease pain, increase range of motion and endurance, strengthen your muscles, decrease fatigue and improve overall muscle fitness. Choose the activities that build the muscles around your joints but do not damage them that are good for arthritis. Include low-impact aerobic exercise such as Walking, Cycling, Aquatic Exercises, Tai Chi, Yoga, Pilates, Country Line or Ballroom Dancing, or a gentle exercise / stretch class.
The key is to have a regular exercise program. The goal is to do a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity about 5 days / week.
Gardening can be very therapeutic and digging in the dirt can be helpful for sore hands.
Avoid: Running, Jumping, Tennis, High-impact aerobics, repetitive motions and inactivity.
No medications are completely free of side effects. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are the primary drug used for treatment with aspirin as the most common. Although NSAIDS provide temporary relief, they accelerate joint destruction in the long run. They prevent prostaglandin formation in order to decrease inflammation; they also inhibit cartilage synthesis and increase cartilage destruction, which accelerates osteoarthritis progression. Also, it may cause damage to the gastro-intestinal tract and increases ones' ulcer risk. Therefore, discuss with your doctor a medication plan for your specific pain symptoms.
Dietary and Lifestyle Modifications
Consider eating fish as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and herring as a source of omega 3's. Eat organic, unprocessed, unrefined foods with emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, legumes, lean meats, nuts, seeds and essential fatty acids from cod liver oil, flax seed oil, walnut oil, etc. Increase boron-rich foods including lettuce, cabbage, apples, dates, prunes, raisins, almonds and hazelnuts. Sulfur and methionine-containing foods as cage, brussel sprouts, garlic and onions are also beneficial. A half lb of fresh cherries or blueberries may be beneficial per day. They contain proanthocyanidins that aid in collagen metabolism and decrease joint inflammation. Consider juicing especially using pineapple due to its bromelain content and ginger due to its anti-inflammatory agent. Eat one cup of white or red grapes daily as the skin contains resveratrol, a natural compound known to act as a Cox-2 inhibitor and an antioxidant.
Drink six-eight 8-ounce glasses of filtered water per day to flush toxins and avoid dehydration.
Drink 1-2 cups of Green or Black Tea daily which is rich in polyphenols – compounds that suppress the expression of a key gene involved in arthritis infection.
Reduce or avoid eating dairy products, refined foods, meat, nightshade foods (tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplant, peppers (not black pepper) and margarine)
Nightshade foods are alkaloids that increase inflammation and inhibit collagen repair.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and allergenic foods. An elimination / rotation diet is recommended. Avoid environmental toxins as much as possible. Avoid smoking, as the toxins in smoke cause stress on connective tissue.
Although there may not be a magic bullet to “cure” arthritis, some supplements and / or extracts may help it to keep it better controlled. When buying a supplement, check its quality control, read labels carefully and try one product at a time to keep track of its effect.
Some supplements to consider:
Bromelain, Feverfew, Ginger and Turmeric- (have significant anti-inflammatory activity). Valerian, Passion Flower, Skullcap and Kava Kava are known muscle relaxants. White Willow Bark is the forerunner to aspirin. Boswellia Serrata has a strong analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic activity. Taking these 2 herbs can be just as effective as taking Motrin. (take 240mg of willow bark and 1,000mg of boswellia per day.
Proteolytic Enzymes, taken without food, reduces pain and inflammation. Antioxidants may include: Grape Seed Extract, Vitamins C and E, Zinc, Glutathione, Selenium and N-acetyl cysteine. Vitamin C and bioflavenoids help in decreasing the progress of osteoarthritis
Fish oil, Cod Liver oil and Black Currant Seed oil help to decrease inflammation.
Glucosamine Sulfate, Chondroitin Sulfate plus Sulfur and N-Acetyl-Glucosamine are building blocks for cartilage repair. Green Lipped Mussel Extract may be beneficial for severe osteoarthritis per a New England study.
Boron decreases urinary excretion of Calcium and magnesium. Adrenal support is needed which may include Pantothenic Acid. Calcium and Magnesium are essential for bone / ligament and muscle health.
Vitamin D supplement or a high Vitamin D diet may help to reduce ones risk for worsening their arthritis by 75%, per a recent high-profile study.
A growing body of scientific research shows that the naturally occurring disease fighting antioxidant compounds contained in Balaton Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate have these health benefits: Anti-inflammatory, Joint Function, Cardiovascular Function, Mobility and Flexibility, Anti-Aging, Cell Integrity, Healthy Immune System and Natural Sleep Cycle.
A Detoxification Program may be beneficial.
Stress reduction is essential. Some effective therapies include Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Prayer and Spirituality. The emotional release of journaling about your feelings may assist in the decreased sensation of pain. Laughing, can relax muscles, reduce stress, treat pain and boost your immune system. Decreasing dwelling on the negative thoughts especially when coping with your pain as it can increase your risk of disability. Instead, focus on calming statements, etc.
Other Lifestyle Modifications May Include:
Regular chiropractic care is beneficial to address structural / postural problems.
Therapeutic Taping including Kinesiotape, wrapped around a joint to realign, support, and take pressure off it can have great benefits for arthritis sufferers.
Set a goal to maintain normal weight to avoid added weight bearing stress on the joints.
Massage Therapy may aid in increasing circulation, energy, flexibility and the body's production of natural pain-killing endorphins as well as improve sleep and immune function.
Acupuncture and Acupressure are ancient Chinese pain relief treatments. In acupuncture, needles are used to stimulate specific points in the body, and in acupressure, fingers are used instead of needles.
The interactions of the mind, body and spirit can have powerful effects on our health. Our office staff and expert Doctors and Practitioners are available to answer your questions specifically to your condition and make recommendations as needed. Additionally, we have available more specifics on the above topics discussed.