Joint pain, swelling, and stiffness can alter your lifestyle dramatically, preventing you from participate in the activities you most enjoy. With the onset of pain in our fingers, wrists, knees, hips or virtually any joint in the body, we tend to jump to the conclusion that arthritis has set in. While joint pain is a natural response to inflammation in the body, it doesn't necessarily mean you have one of the hundred forms of arthritic conditions. Often, pain in your joints simply alerts you to the need for positive changes in your diet, exercise habits, stress level, body weight and even your emotional well being.
Whether your joint pain
is caused by hormonal changes, excessive acidity in your diet, cold and damp weather, arthritis or other factors from the list below, rest assured there are natural ways to increase your mobility while reducing and even eliminating your painful symptoms. With inflammation the common denominator of all joint pain, determining its source and implementing positive lifestyle changes is a great place to start.
Joint Pain - Contributing Factors
o Hormonal changes, especially in women as menopause approaches.
o Severe or recurrent joint injury from heavy physical activity.
o Skeletal postural defects.
o Age-related changes in collagen matrix repair mechanisms.
o Excessive weight.
o Activities such as long-distance running performed over many years.
o Cold climate and atmospheric pressure changes.
o Food allergies such as dairy and wheat.
o Overly acidic diet including nightshade vegetables; potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.
o A diet high in animal products.
o Nutrient deficiency: calcium, magnesium, manganese, protein, essential fatty acids.
o Low-grade infections (dental infections) and autoimmune disease.
o Build up of toxicity in the body.
Acidity and Joint Pain
In his best-selling book "The pH Miracle," Dr. Robert Young says: "Pain cannot exist without acidity and acidity cannot be present without pain." The human body requires a balance of acidity and alkalinity to function well. However, Americans have a tendency to become overly acidic due to stress and the consumption of processed foods, carbohydrates, sugars, red meat, and sodas. Very simply, acidity causes inflammation while alkalinity reduces it.
An excess of acid in the body causes increased amounts of calcium, minerals, and acid toxins to deposit in the joints, resulting in inflammation and pain. Over time, this can lead to joint pain and arthritic conditions. Decreasing sources of acid and increasing your intake of alkalizing foods and drinks will help restore healthy pH levels and help relieve the pain and stiffness in your joints. Avoiding acidic foods can be confusing with lemons, which are alkalizing rather than acidic, as a prime example.
The Role of Inflammation
Most of us think of inflammation as a hot, red and swelling reaction to over exertion or an injury, but that's just the beginning. Chronic systemic inflammation is an underlying cause of a long list of seemingly unrelated, age-related diseases including atherosclerosis, cancer, obesity, diabetes, congestive heart failure, digestive system diseases, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease and osteoporosis. With regard to joint health and arthritis, cytokines regulate various inflammatory responses.
Cytokines are a group of small proteins secreted by specific cells of the immune system that are released into the circulation or directly into tissue and act as messengers to the cells of the body. They regulate the body's response to disease and infection and play an important role in maintaining normal cellular processes in the body. Cytokines are pro-inflammatory and tend to trigger the overproduction of free radicals creating a health compromising cause-and-effect loop.
A strong immune system triggers the inflammatory response to deal with injury or infection. But, our stressful lifestyles and poor dietary choices can cause sustained low-grade inflammation that prevents cell regeneration and repair which gradually tears down tissues, including those in your joints. As examples, elevated cortisol, the hormone released in response to stress, works as an inflammatory agent, and a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugars can create a constant state of inflammation.
Toxicity and Joint Pain
Inflammation is the body's response to toxicity. Poor food choices, smoke, alcohol, sodas, coffee, pesticides, household cleaning products, allergens, herbicides, and chemicals in your personal care products all contribute to toxic overload. Detoxify, purify, and regenerate with a gentle cleanse to reduce the toxic burden on your body and relieve the pain, stiffness and swelling associated with inflammation.
Hormonal Imbalances and Joint Pain
Changing levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone play a role in inflammation so it's no surprise that women often notice the onset of joint pain during perimenopause and menopause.
Because estrogen has an anti-inflammatory effect in the body, fluctuating estrogen levels during this natural life transition can exacerbate the symptoms of chronic inflammation.
Bio-identical progesterone can ease the inflammation burden by helping to balance your hormones, nurture your endocrine system and ease stress. When it comes to degenerative diseases like osteoporosis, progesterone cream has been shown to have remarkable results. Verified by a three year study of 63 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, those using progesterone cream experienced an average 7-8% bone mineral density increase the first year, 4-5% the second year and 3-4% the third year.
The word arthritis literally means joint inflammation, but it is also refers to a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis the most common. According to annual estimates, approximately 46 million adults in the United States (about 1 in 5) report doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
The Most Common Forms of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis, refers to the pain and inflammation that can result from the systematic loss of bone tissue in the joints. This wear-and-tear form of arthritis is most commonly associated with the natural aging process.
Rheumatoid arthritis, also known as rheumatism, is most common among people over 40 with women afflicted two to three times more frequently than men. It is characterized by inflammation and pain in the hands, arms, legs and feet. Organs such as the eyes and lungs may become inflamed as well.
Gout usually occurs in men over 40 and is caused by the elevated blood levels of uric acid which forms crystals in the joints causing them to become inflamed and painful. The immune system reacts to these crystals as if they were foreign invaders. Avoid excessive amounts of red meat, alcohol and sugar to keep gout at bay.
Degenerative Bone Disease - Osteoporosis
Degenerative bone disease or degenerative arthritis is caused by inflammation and the breakdown and loss of the cartilage in the joints. It affects the hands, feet, spine, hips and knees or virtually any joint in the body. The cartilage helps the bones glide over one another and acts as a shock absorber. Over the years, the bones begin to rub against each other beneath the cartilage. This leads to pain, swelling and loss of joint movement.
Osteoporosis can be present without any symptoms for decades. Therefore, people may not be aware
of their osteoporosis until they suffer a painful fracture. In America, more than one million fractures occur annually in women 45 years or older, only 70% of whom are diagnosed with osteoporosis. Hip fractures are the second leading cause of death in people 47-74 years of age. Aching in hips, lower back, or wrists often signal worsening osteoporosis, kidney weakness or immune system dysfunction.
Joint Pain Therapy for Symptom Relief
The downfall of conventional joint pain remedies such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which have dangerous side effects, have people turning to natural products to address joint pain and prevent inflammation and degenerative conditions. In fact, The Council for Responsible Nutrition found that bone and joint issues are among the primary conditions for which American health professionals recommend their patients use natural, dietary supplements and initiate healthy lifestyle changes.
Aspirin and ibuprofen might temporarily suppress pain and inflammation, but they do not build tissue or cartilage and carry side-effects. For example, the side-effects associated with ibuprofen include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and occasionally ulcers of the upper intestinal tract. Other possible and less frequent side effects involve the central nervous system, liver and allergic reactions like skin rashes. Heavy use of non-aspirin pain relievers also put you at risk for developing high blood pressure.
Natural approaches to Pain Relief
Balance your hormones: Bio-identical progesterone cream is calming to the nervous system and nurtures the adrenals to lessen the impact of inflammation causing cortisol.
Make wise choices: Substances like alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and marijuana place a heavy burden on your system, so eliminate them or at least moderate your intake. One of the fastest ways to reduce inflammation is to stop smoking and using stimulants.
Supplements to consider: Use a high quality, absorbable multiple vitamin and mineral complex to fill any nutritional gaps. Pregnenolone improves joint pain and mobility. Get plenty of Omega 3 (fish oil). Hyaluronic Acid is a major component of the synovial fluid and increases the viscosity of the fluid to literally lubricate the joints.