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As with so many other diseases today, diseases involving joint breakdown are skyrocketing. No longer is it an “old person’s disease”.  We are experiencing premature joint breakdown at younger and younger ages. Is it just genetics, or are there reasons, possibly our lifestyle, that are contributing?


While you can have a genetic propensity for arthritis or other degenerative joint diseases, there are lifestyle changes that can protect your joints. As we are now understanding epigenetics more, we realize we have more control of our genetic expression than previously assumed. That’s good news, because it means we can implement things now, to try to thwart it.


Cartilage is a special material that provides a cushion for your joints, including between the vertebrae in your spine, so that bones don’t rub together and wear out. Some types of cartilage contain thick layers of collagen fibers (joints), while some types contain thin layers (other areas of the body). The thicker ones keep your joints moving.


Lifestyle factors such as physically demanding jobs – contractors, brick layers, concrete workers, and electricians, amongst other like jobs, lead the risk categories. Other occupations that increase the risk of degenerative joint diseases include jobs with exposure to chemicals, and jobs involving repetitive movements, especially those involving the weight-bearing joints.


Other risk factors include smokers, those who consume excess alcohol (what determines “excess” is widely debated), stress of nearly all types and lack of sleep. Lack of sleep contributes to breakdown in the immune system, thought to contribute to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Injuries, past and current can also spark joint deterioration.


Another startling cause of arthritis appears to be ascorbic acid. Vitamin C, as a whole food source is required for collagen repair. But what is sold is not true vitamin C, but the “marker” referred to as “ascorbic acid”. As a fractionated piece of the vitamin C complex, it can steal cartilage from joints, pre-disposing the person to premature collagen breakdown. Eventually, that can lead to degenerative disc and joint diseases. Make sure your vitamin C comes from a food like acerola cherries or rose hips.


While preventing joint breakdown by avoiding those risk factors are the best choices for your joints, there are other things that we can do to help stop joint breakdown. Acupuncture is a good solution for degenerative joint diseases. It helps increase the micro-circulation into the tissues, reduces swelling and inflammation, and reduces pain.


While I consider acupuncture and nutritional therapy to be quintessential to helping arthritis or any joint degenerative condition, no matter the type, there are other things people can do for themselves to at least take the edge off.


© 2019 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.

Stopping Joint Breakdown

Doctor of Oriental Medicine

Licensed Acupuncturist

Doctor of Naturopathy

Clinical Nutritionist

Master Herbologist



Dr. Holly A. Carling

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Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience.  Dr. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Dr. Carling considers herself a “professional student” – she has attended more than 600 post-secondary education courses related to health and healing. Dr. Carling gives lectures here in the U.S. and internationally and has been noted as the “Doctor’s Doctor”. When other healthcare practitioners hit a roadblock when treating their patients nutritionally, Dr. Carling is who they call. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’ Alene clinic.  Visit Dr. Carling’s website at to learn more about Dr. Carling, join our e-mail list and read other informative articles.  Dr. Carling can be reached at 208-765-1994 or and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.