Arthritis is a painful condition that doesn’t just affect the elderly. Debilitating at times, it has a deep impact on quality of life, often reducing strength from joints and other parts of the body. Prescription drugs may not be the answer. A naturopathic doctor may recommend dietary supplements, dietary changes (to remove foods that increase inflammation), and/or herbal supplements.
A naturopathic doctor will work with each individual patient to develop a plan that provides relief from the pain and impact of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis typically affects older adults and is caused by a decline in glucosamine levels which naturally occur with aging. As glucosamine levels decrease, the cartilage in weight-bearing joints demineralizes, leading to brittleness and bone spurs as the body attempts to stabilize the joint. Signs and symptoms include stiffness (usually worse in the morning), pain, joint swelling, and limited motion. Osteoarthritis is not just limited to the hands and feet, but it rarely affects all joints at once.
Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease caused by chronic inflammation. It typically affects the hands, wrists, ankles and knees, sometimes the hips and shoulders, and may even afflict the whole body. It can result in heat, redness, swelling, pain, and can also lead to deformities and loss of function. Studies have shown that those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis display an increased intestinal permeability that could lead to delayed food allergies. Stress may also be a contributing factor to rheumatoid arthritis.
Naturopathic treatment of arthritis aims to correct the body chemistry and slow down the degeneration of the joints. Focusing on diet and food sensitivities that may be aggravating the inflammation, your naturopathic doctor will tailor a treatment program to suit your body chemistry and level of pain. Your ND is primarily concerned with treating the root of the problem in order to help you manage pain, eliminate toxins and rebuild your vitality. A naturopathic doctor may also recommend physical medicine such as massage, hydrotherapy, hot and cold treatments, spinal manipulation, etc, which may help to reduce pain and stress and support healing and detoxification.
Description Courtesy of The Ontario Association of Naturopathic Medicine
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