Arthritis is a term that indicates joint inflammation and it's the leading cause of physical disability in the United States, affecting one in every six Americans. While the annual medical cost for arthritis is estimated to be $51 billion, the greatest cost is the pain and suffering which greatly diminishes the quality of life of millions of Americans. Since there are many treatments for arthritis available today, trying to determine the best course of action may be difficult to pinpoint.
Arthritis can be divided into two categories: Osteoarthritis and Inflammatory Arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the more common form of arthritis and is usually due to environmental factors such as lifestyle, nutrition, and physical trauma. Inflammatory arthritis (which is considered to be a blood disease) includes disorders such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus. While most people use medication to control these disorders, natural therapies can offer significant relief and long term management of these conditions without the side effects of arthritic medications.
The Myth of Age and Arthritis
It is common to blame arthritis on age. There is no doubt that arthritis levels increase with age; however, age is rarely the only cause of arthritis. Consider these points:
- If both knees are the same age, why can arthritis be greater in one than the other?
- If arthritis is caused by age, why do joints hurt some days and not others?
- Why do some 80-year-old seniors have less arthritis than friends that are 10 years younger?
The reality is that arthritis is caused by lifestyle factors such as toxicity, food intolerance, nutritional imbalances, poor diet, fatty acid imbalances, amino acid deficiencies, accumulated weakness, structural imbalance, and unresolved trauma. These factors, if unresolved, accumulate over the years and contribute to the development of arthritis. While arthritis cannot be reversed, the possibility of reducing the pain and inflammation from arthritis and slowing its progression is a reality through advances in natural medicine.
Concerns about the Traditional Medical Approach to Arthritis
NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs)
It has been noted in multiple cardiology journals that long term use (>3 years) of NSAIDs can cause a 50% increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.
Corticosteroids (Prednisone & Cortisol)
There are multiple concerns regarding the use of corticosteroids, including weakened immunity, corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis, damage to the joints, and disruption to hormonal balance.
While sometimes surgery is the only option, there are always risk factors involved with this approach. Additionally, surgery frequently fails to restore normal function.
Causes of Arthritis
The continual downward force of gravity tends to misalign the spine over the years. Once misalignment occurs, the distribution of body weight can gradually cause pain and increased arthritis in the joints under increased strain. This is similar to driving down the road with your wheels out of alignment. When the wheels are out of alignment, the tires will wear out and have a shorter life span. Spinal imbalance will have a similar effect and can cause accelerated arthritic changes to the spine, hips, and knees. Studies have demonstrated that loss of the normal lordotic curves of the spine and spinal curvature are a primary cause of degenerative joint disease in the spine.
Toxicity and Arthritic Pain
As pollution levels rise, the levels of toxic metals present in the body also rise. Recent studies support that increased levels of mercury, aluminum, lead, and cadmium can cause higher levels of inflammation in the joints, which can in turn cause increased pain and accelerated arthritis. Advanced Heavy Metal tests are now available to detect these metals. Once metal toxicity is determined, natural products can be utilized to reduce these levels in the blood stream and restore better health.
The relationship between diet and arthritis is and has been the source of in-depth studies for many years. Recent studies demonstrate that food sensitivities are increasing at epidemic rates. In many forms of arthritis, a patient's immune system attacks their own tissues, causing pain and damage. This is a malfunction of the immune system i.e. an autoimmune disease. Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus are both Type 3 autoimmune reactions (see the Gell-Coombs Classifications of Autoimmune Disorders for more information on this.) Since these immune reactions can be delayed 2-4 days after exposure to a food, they are difficult to identify by observation. Our office uses specialized blood tests to identify the dietary sources that trigger these autoimmune reactions. This allows us to provide a natural alternative to correct autoimmune diseases contributing to arthritis. There are very few labs in the country that can perform this test accurately.
Diet and Nutritional Imbalance
Poor diet can lead to acidity, poor gastrointestinal (GI) absorption, nutritional deficiency, and increased inflammation. Understanding and diagnosing each patient's condition is essential in order to identify the correct diet to improve arthritic conditions. Our office utilizes a variety of tests to customize each patient's diet. These tests may include gluten testing, casein and whey testing, acid/alkaline testing, and systemic yeast testing.
Natural Arthritis Therapies
Our office offers postural rehabilitation through the use of specific chiropractic adjustments and customized physical therapy. Treatments are completely painless, and we can usually demonstrate significant changes on post x-rays.
Low Level Laser Therapy
Advances in the use of medical lasers have created an alternative to pain management for arthritic joints. Through the utilization of light, therapeutic lasers can help reduce pain and inflammation, while helping to generate healthy tissue. Many patients with chronic joint pain experience significant relief after a series of treatments.
Targeted Nutritional Therapy, Diet Modification, and Detoxification
There are many new and exciting natural products on the market that can reduce the symptoms of arthritic pain. Unfortunately, many people utilize these products without any diagnostic criteria in hope of symptomatic relief. Our office offers blood chemistries with orthomolecular evaluation, amino acid testing, fatty acid testing, food sensitivities testing, acid/alkaline testing, systemic yeast testing, heavy metal toxicity testing, and much more. Through the use of these diagnostic tests, we can develop a nutritional program that is customized to the patient's needs and conditions
Environmental Toxicity Testing
While the consequences of recent environmental changes are not fully understood, it is evident that there are many everyday environmental toxins that are harmful to our health. Every day we are exposed to hundreds of toxic chemicals from sources such as pharmaceuticals, pesticides, packaged foods, household products, and environmental pollution. As we have become more exposed to chemical-laden products and to toxic chemicals in our food, air, and water, we have been confronted with an accelerating rate of chronic illnesses like cancer, heart disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, chemical sensitivity, autism spectrum disorders, AD(H)D, autoimmune disorders, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease.
The Balanced Body Center offers the GPL-TOX test to evaluate for the presence of 172 different toxic chemicals, including organophosphate pesticides, phthalates, benzene, xylene, vinyl chloride, pyrethroid insecticides, acrylamide, perchlorate, diphenyl phosphate, ethylene oxide, acrylonitrile, and more. This profile also includes Tiglylglycine (TG), a marker for mitochondrial disorders resulting from mutations of mitochondrial DNA. These mutations can be caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, infections, inflammation, and nutritional deficiencies.
Many patients with arthritis have chronic muscular imbalances and functional movement disorders. Our chiropractors and physical therapists work together to develop customized programs to aid in the correction of these imbalances.
Arthritis responds well to massage. Pain is relieved as the muscles surrounding the joints relax, releasing stiffness and allowing for better range of motion and mobility. Some of the benefits that can be gained by using massage therapy are:
- Decreased pain and increased mobility
- Increased blood flow to areas of arthritis, bringing oxygen to help healing
- Flushing out toxic, inflammatory substances that contribute to pain and swelling
- Increased relaxation, decreased stress, and a sense of well-being
If you are interested in natural approaches to treating arthritis, the Balanced Body Center is one of the leading centers in chiropractic and healthcare. Our program includes a complete review of each individual's condition. The appropriate tests are recommended and evaluated, and the cause of the condition is treated naturally. Some tests/therapies that may be ordered are:
- Delayed Food Sensitivity test
- Organic Acid test
- Systemic Yeast test
- Heavy Metal test
- Environmental Toxicity test
- Amino Acid test
- Bone Density test
- Gastrointestinal Absorption/Leaky Gut
- Neurotransmitter test
- Male/Female hormones
- Adrenal evaluation
- Specific chiropractic treatments
- Postural rehabilitation
- Physical therapy
- Massage therapy
- Decompression therapy
- Low Level Laser therapy
- Blood Chemistry studies
- Orthomolecular Evaluation
- Targeted Nutrition