Joint pain can be simple or complex, and often, perplexing! Joint pain can appear out of nowhere: one day you are fine and the next you are limping for no apparent reason. It can come from obvious injury, or it can manifest itself slowly, increasing year by year, an insidious and ever-growing inconvenience that incrementally chips away at your quality of life. No matter how your joint pain manifests, the good news is that most joint pain is very treatable, especially if the source can be identified so that the correct treatment can be applied.
There are basically four types of joint pain: autoimmune, “wear and tear”, injury, and diet related. Autoimmune joint pain includes Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Psoriatic arthritis, MS, Lupus, and Fibromyalgia. Strong anti-inflammatories like corticosteroids, and immunosuppressant drugs are typically used in the management of autoimmunity. However, these medications have serious adverse long-term side effects, and should be avoided if possible.
“Wear and tear” joint pain is due to repetitive activity often through sports or physical labor, leading to bursitis (bursa inflammation) or tendonitis (tendon inflammation). Bursas are fluid-filled sacs that cushion between the bones and tendons, and inflammation usually shows up in the shoulders, hips, and knees. Tennis elbow and Achilles tendonitis are good examples of tendonitis. Depending on the level of inflammation, bursitis and tendonitis are usually the simplest to treat.
Increasing numbers of clinical studies highlight the benefits of acupuncture in providing both relief and speeding up healing in the treatment of joint pain, including a recent study in Hong Kong where researchers demonstrated improvement of osteoarthritic knee pain in just 6 treatments for a two-week period. Most often referred to in natural aging, osteoarthritis is a slow, progressive degenerative joint disease that involves strong heredity factors that result in joint deformity and stiffness. The common “bone on bone” prognosis is a result of the severe progression of osteoporosis, which eventually erodes away the cartilage. When too advanced, joint replacement surgery is the only alternative.
Finally, many types of joint pain are both caused and worsened by inflammatory foods, including sugar, omega 6 fatty acids found in high amounts in vegetable and seed oils, refined carbohydrates, gluten, and dairy. However, any food allergy or sensitivity can be a cause of increased inflammation and joint pain. Since all autoimmunity is connected to “leaky gut” or intestinal permeability, autoimmune joint pain is particularly susceptible to the impacts of diet. Other foods, such as nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes and peppers) can cause inflammation in the joints that lead to pain, weakness, and joint instability. Did I mention that joint pain can be complicated to treat? Yet here at Vital Health we combine the fine art of targeted nutrition with the power of proven results in acupuncture to help you achieve both recovery from acute or chronic joint pain, and recovery of the quality of life that you deserve.
©2021 Darcy Greenwald, M.S.O.M., L.Ac. and Vital Health