Natural Arthritis Treatment
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is incredibly common. Today in Canada, approximately 20% of the population over 15 years of age has arthritis and this number is on the rise (1). Arthritis can affect people of any age (including children), but it is more common with increased age. Arthritis can affect your ability to do normal every day activities, including getting dressed, running errands, and doing housework. It can also prevent you from enjoying your hobbies and getting necessary tasks done at work.
There are several different types of arthritis (2); however, all forms include pain and inflammation of the joints. Different joints throughout the body can be affected, depending on the type of arthritis. You may experience arthritis on both sides of your body or just one. You may also experience arthritis in your spine. The symptoms of arthritis may be present all the time or they may come and go. You may be able to identify specific triggers that lead to more pain, such as specific motions or activities. Some types of arthritis can lead to degeneration and physical damage to the joints, resulting in long lasting pain and disability. Other types of arthritis are autoimmune in nature (meaning your immune system is attacking your joints). It is important to determine which type of arthritis you have, so that it can be appropriately treated.
Common Signs & Symptoms of Arthritis
Other symptoms that may occur with the joint pain and stiffness could include:
Redness at the affected joint
Swelling of the affected joint
Sensation of heat or warmth in the joint
Skin rashes or red scaly patches on your skin
Decrease in appetite
Small, firm bumps on elbows, hands, or fingers
Naturopathic Treatment for Arthritis
Naturopathic treatment for arthritis can differ depending on the type of arthritis you have. Treatment is initially focused on ensuring strong foundations of health are in place. This often involves an investigation into your diet to identify triggers that may be leading to pain and inflammation in your joints. These triggers can be different for everyone and may even include foods that are considered to be healthy. Lifestyle modifications are also an important foundation to arthritis treatment. Modifications may include discussions on sleep, stress management, and exercise habits. Proper sleep is important to ensure joints are able to heal from the day's activities. High stress can increase inflammation within the body and may trigger flares in pain. Exercise is important to ensure the joints are receiving adequate blood flow, which brings the healing components of the immune system and takes away any wastes or toxins from the joint. Exercise also prevents further deterioration of the joints. It is ideal if a level of exercise can be maintained without increasing pain.
There are a number of other options for reducing inflammation and pain caused by arthritis. Supplements of specific nutrients or herbs in the form of tinctures or teas may be used. Dietary changes can substantially reduce pain and inflammation. Hydrotherapy in the form of hot or cold compresses may be used as needed help to relieve pain. There are also a number of topical treatments that can be utilized, which may be anti-inflammatory and soothing in nature.
If the type of arthritis you have is autoimmune in nature, different therapies may be used to help calm the immune system and prevent further joint damage. There are a number of herbal treatments, supplements, and dietary considerations to address this. Treatments are selected for each individual based on efficacy, patient preference, and safety.
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