Joint pain is another one of those common conditions that people tend to assume is unavoidable as they age. There are a surprising number of ways we can treat joint pain without surgical intervention and the answers may be simpler than you think. There are, of course, many reasons for joint pain, and while there are several situations in which some degree of surgical intervention may be warranted, there are many more instances where that approach is overkill and may even result in an exacerbation of the condition. Although the body’s ability to effectively regenerate cartilage is debatable, we have seen many patients with poor prognoses get out of pain entirely, using acupuncture and by adopting healthy lifestyle habits.
One of the first things we ask patients to do is make sure they are drinking enough water and consuming enough good quality fats; this mean no margarine, vegetable oils or trans fats! We also typically recommend supplemental nutrition consisting of collagen and other whole food supplements that will aid in reducing inflammation in the joints as well as providing the building blocks to repair connective tissue. Having these nutrients in your system will ensure that your body has what it needs to keep your cartilage, the tissue in joints that cushions and glides, healthy and hydrated.
Often when patients receive imaging results that show a decrease in joint spacing, we assume that this is because the cartilage in that space has been eroded. Although this is sometimes true, it is also often the case that these tissues are simply dried out and malnourished from lack of activity and nutrients. In a well-nourished body, the natural cycle of compression and expansion that happens with movement creates a pumping effect that draws in moisture and nutrients to heal connective tissue which themselves receive very little, if any blood supply. So, in whatever capacity is possible, it is important to keep your joints moving, in ways that do not cause pain. There are countless low impact activities that can achieve this, some great examples are cycling, water aerobics or tai chi. One of my favorite ways to help people through joint pain is acupuncture. Joint pain is one of the most commonly studied uses for acupuncture. It has been shown to not only decrease the pain, but also activate healing mechanisms in local tissues. Acupuncture decreases inflammation and increases blood flow to local tissues, helping to take the pressure off of angry tissues while also bringing in nutrients to activate the healing response. It has also been shown to decrease the activity of nociceptor, or pain, pathways in the nervous system while also easing muscle tension. So, whether you are currently experiencing joint pain or would like to learn more about how to keep your joints healthy for life, we can help!
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