We all get occasional joint pain. Maybe we play football or karate or go hill walking; we shrug it off and it heals.
But as we age many get joint pain that does not seem to come from activities that we enjoy but from age itself.
Joints degenerate as much as any organ in the body and depend on our stewardship of our body for their health. So if we experience stiffness and pain or swelling around a joint we may have signs of Osteoarthritis also called Degenerative Arthritis.
And although many elderly people do have joint disease there are many others of the same age who are pain free and have no sign of joint problems whatsoever.
It is true that some of this “immunity” to arthritis may be down to the genes. There is evidence that siblings and twins have similar susceptibility to arthritis but there is much room for us to help boost the health of our joints by adopting a joint friendly diet and other lifestyle factors
How Does OA start? Often it’s with a Joint Injury
Osteopaths and Chiropractors have long explained stubborn joint problems by pointing to childhood injuries. Sometimes we fall as children – in my case I rolled down stairs as a baby and was apparently unharmed by it – and have no recollection of the accident at all.
Healing usually happens automatically but sometimes it gets stuck “half way” and an incomplete repair of the joint occurs that may be pain free but which acts as a point of focus for decades to come.
And that joint may be a little stiff so perhaps you “allow” for it, maybe by changing your posture a little or your movements.
And so the original injury becomes part of your life even without pain and without you paying much attention to it, until a slip or minor accident triggers the joint and it becomes inflamed and goes into another “incomplete healing”.
This cycle of the joint getting inflamed and perhaps swollen and partially healing may go for a long time – perhaps leaving residual stiffness and no other sign of trouble. Other people will find that the damage gets worse and becomes an obvious problem with frequent pain, weakness and instability of the joint and swelling.
Received wisdom is that inflammation is a major feature in Rheumatoid Arthritis and not Osteoarthritis but inflammation is the driver in both. Too much attention is given to “pain relief” and not enough to healing and repairing the joints.
Yes pain relief is essential but is a short term measure and is often the only measure taken which results in pain relief becoming a long term even permanent part of coping with the disease.
As a starter it’s essential to check that whatever medication you take does not contribute to making the problem worse.
This seems obvious to everyone but pharmaceutical steroid painkillers may impair wound healing and even cause Osteoporosis while pharmaceutical Non Steroidal pain killers may produce a range of damaging side effects to the gut, kidney and even cause heart attack and stroke.
So we won’t be looking at pharmaceutical drugs for help in healing joint disease!
With a “cold” injury – that is an old injury the only way to heal it thoroughly is to go back to basics and do a complete investigation of the joint and surrounding ligaments and muscles.
All the movements have to be tested and the muscles too so a well trained Kinesiologist on your team is an asset. There will be unbalanced muscles and perhaps multiple issues around the joint that have built up over the years and they must all be cleared for a complete healing to take place.
Joint Nutrition Is Vital
Joints can only get the nutrition that the rest of the body gets. An injured joint may need extra sulphur, silica and vitamin C and if not in the diet, then they cannot be in the blood and get to the joint.
Even worse – joint spaces get nutrients not directly from the blood supply but from the tissues around them and this is powered by your movement. Unless there is plenty of movement the tissues will go “hungry” and be unable to heal fully.
Detox techniques like Epsom Salts Baths and Castor Oil Packs need to be used as long as the issue is unresolved. Laser or other deep tissue techniques may be a very effective part of the whole programme of treatments.
And a complete Body detox may be required in stubborn cases. That might sound like a lot of work and it is and it’s why Osteopaths and Naturopaths really want to work on joint problems as soon as possible rather than years later.
If course the result of this deep healing approach is a life without the disability of an injured joint and that makes it all worthwhile.
Photo credit X ray