What is arthritis? Arthritis is a complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that destroy joints, bones, muscles, cartilage and other connective tissues, hampering or halting physical movement. Arthritis typically affects joints — the word “arthritis” literally means joint inflammation: arth (joint) and itis (inflammation). The following are 2 common forms of arthritis:
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of inflammatory arthritis and an autoimmune disease. In RA, the immune system – which is designed to protect our health by attacking foreign cells such as viruses and bacteria – instead attacks the body’s own tissues, specifically the synovium, a thin membrane that lines the joints. As a result of the attack, fluid builds up in the joints, causing pain in the joints and inflammation that’s systemic – meaning it can occur throughout the body.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the oldest and most common forms of arthritis and is a chronic condition characterized by the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. Cartilage is the part of the joint that cushions the ends of the bones and allows easy movement of joints. The breakdown of cartilage causes the bones to rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain and loss of movement in the joint. (Information obtained from: Arthritis Foundation.)
There are many forms of arthritis, but typically arthritis stems from inflammation in the joints. Below, I have listed recommended physical and lifestyle changes that can help decrease symptoms or possibly even eliminate symptoms in some cases (see article at the end of this post to read a specific case where symptoms were completely eliminated).
Recommendations from Christina Stieve, DPT (Doctorate of Physical Therapy):
- Ice affected area
- Perform low-impact exercises: swimming, biking, walking
- Stop doing high impact exercises: running, plyometrics (jumping), etc.
- Perform joint stabilization exercises (i.e., balance exercises)
Recommendations from Dr. Mark Hyman, MD:
- Check for heavy metal toxicity. Do a heavy metal detox. For a good heavy metal detox, get the book Juicing, Fasting and Detoxing for Life by Cherie Calbom
- Check for hidden infections such as yeast, viruses, Lyme, etc.
- Check for hidden food allergens. Get IgG food allergy testing completed or eliminate gluten, dairy and other common allergens.
- Get tested for celiac disease and fix your gut.
- Take anti-inflammatory vitamins/supplements: Vitamin D, Essential fats, and probiotics to help calm your immune response naturally.
- Exercise regularly. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory.
- Practice deep relaxation to de-stress (yoga, meditation, etc.) because stress worsens the immune response.
- Detox: body brush, exercise, sauna (to release toxins through sweat), enema
- Eat alkaline and anti-inflammatory foods: herbal teas, berries, turmeric, cacao, kelp, shiitake mushrooms, papaya, and sweet potatoes to name a few. For more information, go here: Articles on Foods that Fight Inflammation
- Decrease acidic food/drinks in diet which can cause inflammation: Alkaline/Acidic Food Lists
For more information, go to Dr. Hyman’s blog. I have included a link to two of his articles on autoimmune diseases here: Is There a Cure for Autoimmune Diseases (Such as Rheumatoid Arthritis)?, How to Stop Attacking Yourself: 9 Steps to Heal Autoimmune Diseases