Arthritis - Alternative Therapies

by Jerry Ryan - Date: 2007-04-26 - Word Count: 930 Share This!

Arthritis is general term for the inflammation of one or more joints. It is characterized by pain, swelling, stiffness, deformity, and/or a diminished range of motion. More than 30 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and related conditions.

These arthritic conditions affect the body's movable joints, such as the knees, elbows,wrists, fingers, hips, shoulders, toes, as well as the joints in the neck and back at each spinal vertebra. There are six different types of joints and although their types of motion vary, their underlying physiological structure is the same. A fluid-filled capsule made up of tough ligaments surrounds two or more adjoining movable bones, whose touching surfaces are covered with a layer of cartilage. The fluid is secreted by the synovial membrane that lines the inside of the joint capsule. The combination of this thick fluid and the smooth, rubbery cartilage allows the bones within the joint to glide smoothly past each other.

In healthy joints, the synovial membrane is thin, the cartilage that covers the bones is smooth, and a thin film of synovial fluid covers the bone surfaces. If anything disrupts any of these factors, arthritis can result. Arthritis may occur suddenly or it may come on gradually. Some people feel it as a sharp, burning or grinding pain. Others compare the pain to a toothache. Moving the joint is usually painful although sometimes there is only stiffness. Of the many different types of arthritis, we will discuss its most common form -- osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis involves deterioration of the cartilage that covers the end of the bones; it is a degenerative joint disease. An injury or a defect in the protein that makes up cartilage may cause it. But more commonly, it is related to the wear and tear of aging. The once-smooth surface of the cartilage becomes rough, resulting in friction. As the cartilage begins to break down, the normally smooth sliding surfaces become pitted and irregular. The tendons, ligaments, and muscles holding the joint together become weaker. The joint itself becomes deformed, painful, and stiff. There is usually some pain but little or no swelling. However, fractures become an increasing risk because osteoarthritis makes the bones brittle. Furthermore, as osteoarthritis advances, bony outgrowths tend to develop. These spurs, which can be detected by x-ray, develop near degenerated cartilage in the neck or lower back.

Osteoarthritis rarely develops before the age of 40 but it affects nearly everyone past the age of 60. However, it may be so mild than a person is unaware of it until it shows up on an x-ray. It typically runs in families and affects almost three times as many women as men.

Arthritis can also be caused by bacterial, viral or fungal infection of a joint. Usually the infecting organism travels to the joint through the bloodstream from infection elsewhere in the body. Injury and even surgery can result in joint infection as well. Symptoms of infectious arthritis include redness, swelling, pain, and tenderness in the affected joint. This is often accompanied by systemic symptoms of infection such as fever, chills, and body aches.

A current theory links both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis to poor immune system function in which the body improperly identifies the cartilage and membranes as foreign objects. In the case of osteoarthritis, this dysfunction results in more rapid destruction of the joint by the aging process. Rheumatoid arthritis has been found to be a disruption in the processing of a single essential carbohydrate - galactose. Cell-surface carbohydrates such as galactose are called glyconutrients and they play an important role in the cells communicating properly with one another. Any disturbance in the process of supplying the proper types and amounts of carbohydrates to each cell can lead to a miscommunication between the cells. Proper cell-to-cell communication can avoid the mistake of incorrectly targeting good tissues as foreign bodies.

I'm sure that you have heard of glucosamine. In arthritic patients, glucosamine is a carbohydrate that is often found helpful. It is derived from N-acetylglucosamine, another one of the eight essential carbohydrates described in Harper's Biochemistry.

The following is a list of nutritional supplements, herbs, and recommendations for dietary changes that have been found helpful for people with arthritis. Remember to consult with your physician before adding any herbal supplements to your diet because some herbs may cause serious drug interactions.

Essential carbohydrates (glyconutrients)
Vitamin B-5
Primrose or salmon oil
Sea cucumber
Vitamin E

Very Important
Coenzyme Q10
Essential amino acids
Multienzyme complex
Folic acid
Vitamin B-12
Vitamin K
Vitamin C
Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B-3 and B-6

Cat's claw
White Poplar
Burdock root
Wild Yam
Brigham tea
Black Willow
Celery seed
Parsley tea
Oregon Grape Root

Dietary and lifestyle recommendations:
Include the following foods in your diet: asparagus, eggs, garlic and onions, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, oatmeal, brown rice, fish, fresh vegetables and non-acidic fruits.

Consume foods like rice, wheat and rye that contain histadine. It is excellent for the removal of excess metals from the body. Arthritis sufferers have high levels of copper and iron.

Eat fresh pineapple frequently. It contains bromelain that reduces inflammation.

Eat some form of fiber daily. Reduce the amount of dietary fat.

Avoid red meat, milk, dairy products, citrus fruits, salt, paprika, tobacco, caffeine, and white sugar.

Avoid peppers, eggplant, white potatoes, and tomatoes. They contain solaine, which may cause an increase in pain and discomfort

Take hot showers and baths to relieve stiffness.

Maintain a regular exercise program.

Spend time in the sunlight for Vitamin D.

For additional information on any information in this article, you may contact the author at

Related Tags: fitness, health, pain, arthritis, inflammation, knee, alternative, joint, osteoarthritis, swelling

Jerry Ryan, Ph.D. is a Natural Health Coach who teaches individuals and group classes on the scientifically documented benefits of natural health techniques. He is also an internationally published author and has been a guest speaker at such places as NIKE World Headquarters. For more information, his website is

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