Arthritis: Not So Cut and Dry

Whenever I get ready to teach a class, and write the article, such as this one, that generally precedes it, I stick my research hat back on and see what has changed in our understanding of the topic at hand. While doing that for this article, at one point I closed my laptop and started to laugh! With the exception of the main health focus over the past two years, I cannot remember any health topic swinging so far from one end of the understanding spectrum to the other!

We used to think that osteoarthritis (OA), in particular, was simply something that will happen to you as you age, an inevitability. That it was just a wear and tear of joints – it just simply happens. Now we know better. We now know that it is a complex set of tissue breakdowns that can occur at any age, with just as complex of reasons for it.

We used to think exercise worsened joints, now we know the right type of exercise is essential for prevention, maintenance and repair. We used to think inflammation was the bad guy (and runaway inflammation can certainly appear that way), now we know it’s an essential part of the repair process; and as such, we used to think NSAIDS and corticosteroids were the best for our joints, we now know that they disable the repair process. We used to think arthroscopic surgery and joint replacements were the best options, but the newest research is revealing that to not be the case. Joint replacements, although they offer relief and once you’re bad enough become a necessity, leave the mechanism responsible for causing the deterioration in the first place unaddressed.

We used to think that OA involved just the cartilage, now we know it involves the joint bones, ligaments, tendons, synovium (membrane containing the lubricating fluids), nerves and the hormones that are all involved, and other tissues as well.

Not everyone with OA has symptoms, and not everyone with symptoms of OA has arthritis. The complexity of symptoms can mean different conditions, and there isn’t even a general consensus from country to country what it actually is. I remember in my early years as a nurse, it was cut and dry: if your joints hurt, you got those dreaded nodules, but wasn’t red and inflamed, it was called OA. If it was the above, plus stiffness and inflammation, it was Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Boy, have those days changed!

©2022 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling

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.

Medical/Health Disclaimer:

The information provided in this article or podcast should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this article or podcast. Readers/listeners should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the author, but readers/listeners who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

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