Arthritis, in one literal translation, can be viewed as meaning “Inflammation of the Joints”. More generally, it is a form of joint disorder categorised by inflammation of one or more joints, and there are over 100 different forms of the disorder. I will describe some of the common forms that I have treated shortly, but the main problem that is faced by all sufferers is chronic pain. As the joint has become damaged, previously insignificant movements suddenly become painful and, in many cases, intensely painful. Very often, the pain is more debilitating than the disorder itself and can lead to psychological factors adding to the physical trauma.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disorder, often known as degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis, and affects almost 10% of the population, mostly in people over the age of 65. In fact, when considering the USA, there are approx 27 million Osteoarthritis sufferers and an over 65 population of approximately 44 million.
In osteoarthritis, cartilage covering the ends of bones breaks down where they meet to form a joint and allow movement. As the cartilage wears away, the bones become exposed and rub against each other. The deterioration of cartilage also affects the shape and makeup of the joint so that it no longer functions smoothly. You may notice a limp when you walk, or you may have trouble going up and down stairs because those movements put additional stress on the joint.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis vary, depending on which joints are affected and how severely they are affected. However, the most common symptoms are stiffness, particularly first thing in the morning or after resting, and pain. The most commonly affected joints are the lower back, hips, knees and feet. When those joints are affected you may have difficulty with such activities as walking, climbing stairs and lifting objects.
Other commonly affected joints are the neck and fingers, including the thumb base. When finger and hand joints are affected, osteoarthritis can make it difficult to grasp and hold objects, such as a pencil, or to do delicate tasks, such as needlework.
Though RA affects the joints, it’s actually a disease of the immune system, which normally protects us from infection by attacking viruses and bacteria. For reasons no one fully understands, RA causes the immune system to go awry and mistakenly attack healthy cells such as the synovium, a thin membrane that lines the joints. As a result of the attack, fluid builds up in the joints, causing pain and inflammation. Over time this can wear away the cartilage and erode bone, causing a lack of function and mobility. In most people, the inflammation usually becomes systemic, affecting organs such as the skin, heart and lungs.
RA most commonly affects the joints of the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles. Joint involvement is usually symmetrical, meaning if one joint is affected the same joint on the opposite side of the body is involved as well.
If you’re experiencing joint pain – as most people do at least occasionally – and wondering if it might be rheumatoid arthritis, the following are clues that it may be. At the very least, you should schedule an appointment with your GP to have it checked out.
• Regular morning joint stiffness
• Persistent joint pain that does not improve
• Joint pain that is getting worse over time
• Joints that are swollen, red, hot or tender to the touch
• Joint pain accompanied by fever
• Several affected joints
• Joint problems that affect with your ability to move or function
Unfortunately, as with most serious disorders, doctors (by their own admission) have no idea as to the real causes of these problems. They can, however, tell you that the symptoms that you have pointed out to them are likely those of RA, and may then diagnose you with the illness and prescribe according to their computer systems.
One might postulate that this, like so many of the other “chronic” diseases that mankind suffers from is considerably contributed to by the Western lifestyle choices i.e. these are diseases of the rich, brought about by the increasingly parasitic relationship between mankind and Earth. Asian populations, for example, whose lifestyle remain much poorer e.g. very basic diet, more manual labour do not suffer anywhere near the same instance of RA as Western countries. Interestingly, 66% of adults with doctor-
Considered the most common form of arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) begins before age 16 and involves swelling in one or more joints lasting at least six weeks. JIA includes several types of arthritis previously known as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). In recent years, though, researchers have developed a more sophisticated understanding of the differences between specific types of arthritis, and the terminology and definition of the disease has shifted.
JIA may include a variety of symptoms, such as muscle and soft tissue tightening, bone erosion, joint misalignment and changes in growth patterns. Not all symptoms are shared by all children with the disease. Moreover, the symptoms of JIA can change from day to day.
There are six ‘category types’ of juvenile idiopathic arthritis: Oligoarthritis, Polyarthritis, Systemic, Enthesitis-
Traditionally, a child complaining of occasional achy joints was dismissed as having “growing pains,” a vague phenomenon believed to be the result of the natural growth process. Now, we know that symptoms of joint pain, swelling, stiffness, fatigue or illness may be early signals of a serious, inflammatory rheumatic disease that requires immediate medical treatment.
Joint pain and arthritis related conditions are one of the top five most common reasons that Americans seek CAM Therapies.
In my experience, Naturopathic advice on dietary regime and appropriate exercise can be very beneficial, as can combined Aromatherapy Massage and Reiki Healing for dealing with the pain. On deeper levels, however, Vibrational Medicine techniques can identify root cause and introduce appropriate counter-
Please note that any advice offered either on this site or in my practice is not meant to substitute medical advice. For medical advice, please consult a relevant medical professional.