There are various forms of arthritis, the most common being osteoarthritis (OA). OA is characterized by gradual degeneration of the cartilage that cushions joints and prevents bones from scraping against each other. The joints that are most often affected include weight-bearing joints (hips and knees) and those of the hands. OA sufferer’s typically notice that their pain is worse in the morning, after standing or sitting for long periods of time, after heavy exercise or with weather changes.
Repetitive activities and sports injuries are commonly associated with the development of osteoarthritis. Genetics is also known to play a role and so if you are a sufferer, it is likely that either your parents or grandparents are or were sufferer’s as well.
This is a picture of some of the physical deformities that can be caused by OA of the hand. If you have severe OA of one of the weight bearing joints and it starts to cause you extreme distress, a replacement operation is often recommended. However this is not always ideal if you are under the age of 65yrs old since it is likely that you will outlive your replacement.
Conventional approaches include NSAID drugs such as celebrex, ibuprofen or naproxen are typically prescribed to help people manage their pain however there are many side effects associated with these types of medications. More specifically, they can lead to high blood pressure, nausea, diarrhea and extreme digestive upset. Another problem with choosing pharmaceuticals to manage your pain is that since they only mask the pain (not cure it), people are more prone to overuse their affected joints since they are no longer receiving the painful message from the body. Eventually this leads to more joint degeneration and thus further progression of the disease process.
Complimentary health options include changes to your diet (choosing anti-inflammatory foods and staying away from inflammation forming foods), natural supplements and therapies such as chiropractic, acupuncture, osteopathic medicine, natural forms of injection therapy and massage therapy to decrease pain and improve joint mechanics. The goal of these natural options is to prevent and/or decrease inflammation naturally, manage pain without the side effects of medications and improve the overall health of the joints and body to prevent further progression.