Chances are you know someone who is or has been affected by arthritis. It’s a very common condition that affects millions all around the world each and every day. It’s a common misconception that arthritis is its own disease, but this is actually not true. Arthritis is an umbrella term that refers to over 100 different types of joint diseases that affect people of all ages.
What exactly is Arthritis?
Arthritis comes in many forms, but here are some of the most common types:
Osteoarthritis, which occurs when cartilage (slick and cushioning surface on the ends of bones) wears away, is the most common form of arthritis. As a result of this loss of cartilage, bones start to rub against each other, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. These symptoms can often be crippling, causing the afflicted person to sometimes be unable to use their hands or bend their knees. Over time, joints can lose much of their strength and the pain can become chronic.
Inflammatory arthritis is another type of arthritis that affects many people. It occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks joints with excessive inflammation. This can potentially cause joint erosion and can even damage internal organs. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are two common types of inflammatory arthritis.
Infectious arthritis is when a bacterium, fungus, or virus enters a joint and triggers inflammation. Some common diseases that can infect joints in this way are salmonella, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and hepatitis C.
Metabolic arthritis is the result of the body producing higher than normal levels of uric acid and not being able to get rid of it quickly enough. As a result, the uric acid can build up and form needle-like crystals in joints known as gout that cause sudden spikes of extreme joint pain. Gout can be infrequent in less extreme cases, only causing painful attacks every so often, but if uric acid levels are not reduced, the pain can become chronic and sometimes lead to disability.
How can I prevent arthritis?
Currently, there is no way to prevent arthritis entirely, as doctors and scientists still do not fully understand the disease, but there are indeed a number of things you can do to reduce your chances of being afflicted with arthritis. First, make sure you keep your mobility up by exercising regularly; it’s important to keep moving as you age. Also, make sure to keep yourself on a healthy diet that is low in sugar and alcohol; this will be especially helpful in preventing gout. Lastly, do not smoke, as it has been known to increase your chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Naturopathic Treatment of arthritis involves improving general health while addressing the root cause or causes of arthritis. Restoring proper alignment of the joint via manipulation and prolotherapy is often critical to improving pain-free range of motion in most osteoarthritis cases. Autoimmune arthritis can be more complicated as it involves treatment to improve overall digestive and immune function to decrease inflammatory tendency.
Another common mistake made is the assumption that arthritis automatically equates to pain. Many times there may be radiographic (x-ray) evidence of arthritis but the patient has no pain. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you are doomed to have pain because of an arthritis diagnosis. Once your general health is improved and structural alignment is restored there is a high likelihood that your pain will diminish significantly.