Arthritis is an extremely common and potentially debilitating condition that in Australia alone affects nearly 4 million people – that’s 1 in 6 people! Arthritis is degenerative in nature for many people, if not managed well, it only gets worse over time.
So many patients that I talk to mention arthritis to me as part of conversation when they are getting treatment for something else simply because they have been told that they are “just getting old” and to “deal with it.” As a healthcare professional this is shocking – there are some absolute fundamentals that should be applied in every case of arthritis. If you or someone you know has been experiencing arthritic pain, keep reading because I’m going to be diving deep on natural treatment options that you can use to get on top of your pain!
There are multiple types of Arthritis and there are various factors that contribute to this condition, which simply put, is inflammation of joint surfaces leading to pain, swelling and inflammation. When this happens, we hear from many people that it:
- Stops them from doing their daily activities and enjoying time with friends/family
- Affects their ability to sleep leading to fatigue and makes it harder to deal with pain
- Due to the ongoing pain and not knowing how to get on top of the situation, causes significant stress and anxiety
And honestly, that’s why I’m so passionate about this topic – because there is SO MUCH that you can do to improve the situation.
Self-Help Strategies for Arthritis
Let’s start with some fundamental lifestyle advice: Exercise, Diet and Weight loss go A LONG WAY to help manage all types of Arthritic pain!
It has long been observed in studies that exercise has beneficial effects for all types of arthritis. The adage “use it or lose it” comes to mind when thinking of exercise and arthritis. To prevent further degeneration of joint surfaces, it’s important to maintain a regular physical exercise regime.
As for what types of exercise are recommended, low-impact exercise like hydrotherapy or walking, and controlled strength and conditioning is recommended in order to maintain the strength of soft tissues supporting inflamed joints whilst also avoiding further traumatising and inflaming arthritic joints.
Research shows that avoiding certain inflammatory foods can reduce the symptoms of all types of arthritis and lead to an overall improvement in quality of life!
To improve arthritis symptoms, foods to avoid are:
• High sugar/sugar added foods which are significantly related to arthritis in studies
• Processed meats which due to added nitrates especially aggravates Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Foods containing Gluten such as many breads and pastas, are linked to many inflammatory conditions in some people including arthritis
• Alcohol which has been shown to aggravate all types of arthritis and especially Gout
• Foods such as margarine, vegetable oils and many commercially baked goods that contain these ingredients, due to a high proportion of trans fats has been shown in studies to aggravate pain in arthritis even when significant medications are being used
Weight loss is great for overall health! When it comes to arthritis, weight loss has been shown to decrease pain in a significant way but also enable other treatments to achieve greater results.
Weight loss has the following effects:
• Reduces pressure on the joints to decrease inflammation
• Reduces inflammation-fat tissue which produces inflammatory compounds
• Lowers uric acid leading to decreased incidences of Gout attack
• Slows cartilage degeneration-the more weight lost, the slower the degeneration
Often overlooked, these lifestyle strategies are fundamental to dealing with all types of arthritis!
Our Pain Relief Process
This is really simple, and I’m sure you will all be able to relate to the process we apply to deal with all painful conditions.
- Address Pain
When pain is severe, we find that the inflammation and pain that people are experiencing affects the way they move. At this stage, it’s imperative to deal with the pain itself in a direct manner. Also, at this stage we typically do not recommend any rehabilitative exercises, instead focusing on lifestyle advice, treatments such as Acupuncture, and supplements to help deal with pain and inflammation.
- Resolve Underlying Factors
Once pain is improved in a significant way, treatment focus shifts to addressing underlying factors so that the situation does not relapse! Typically, this may involve incorporating rehabilitative exercises and/or further dietary recommendations to make sure that arthritis is effectively managed.
- Health Optimisation
Once pain and underlying factors are stabilised, to achieve the best results for your health, it’s important to make lifestyle changes that are aligned with improving your overall state of health. This may include addressing other seemingly unrelated health issues or otherwise starting new exercises or lifestyle habits.
Natural Treatments For Arthritis
There are lots of different natural treatment options for arthritis. At our clinic, we find that Acupuncture is a fantastic technique that can be used in various ways to improve Arthritis symptoms. When it comes to setting out an appropriate treatment protocol, the individual situation is always assessed – what type of Arthritis is present, causative factors and overall state of health to set out what type of treatment is going to achieve best results.
The Science Behind Acupuncture & Arthritis
Acupuncture has been shown in studies to have benefits for all types of arthritis!
When it comes to Osteo-arthritis, Acupuncture has been shown to improve short and long-term physical function and also decrease pain associated with arthritis.
Especially in relation to knee Osteo-arthritis, studies show that Acupuncture and Electro-Acupuncture have less side effects and are more effective than medications.
Acupuncture alone or combined with other treatments is considered by many researchers to be beneficial for Rheumatoid Arthritis without adverse effects and can improve quality of life.
One of the most popular explanations about how Acupuncture works is that it has an anti-inflammatory effect. It may suppress the body’s inflammatory response, improve blood flow, or relax muscle tone leading to a decrease in pain and improvement in range of movement.
Many professionals agree that Acupuncture is effective in treating Arthritis and it is a popular treatment option for many people experiencing Arthritic pain.
Have you been experiencing Arthritis Pain?
Arthritis is an extremely common and debilitating health issue and, in our experience, so many sufferers simply accept that they must “live with it”. The reality is that there is LOTS that can be done to stabilise and reduce Arthritis pain-from lifestyle modifications to natural treatment options and rehabilitative exercises. When appropriate steps are taken, Arthritis is a condition that is manageable so that people can get back to what they enjoy most in life!
To achieve the best outcomes for your health, as always, we recommend speaking to a healthcare professional. There are many different ‘types’ of Arthritis and there are also different causative factors. Your healthcare professional is the best person to effectively assess and advise the most appropriate course of action for your situation.
I hope that helps shed some light on how to get on top of Arthritis! If you would like to learn if we can help you, please call our friendly team on (02) 4709 6727.