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Joint Diseases

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Alternative Approaches for these Joint diseases: arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, and gout.

Degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis and autoimmune diseases which affect the joints are painful and sometimes debilitating.

While some joint diseases are considered to be the “normal” wear and tear of joints and bones due to aging, other joint diseases are due to the body’s immune system attacking healthy joint tissue for a variety of reasons.

The most common joint diseases are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, gout, and osteonecrosis.

While the medical community usually treats joint diseases with pharmaceutical drugs, there are scientifically proven ways to treat joint diseases naturally.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint disease

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of joint disease. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia states that osteoarthritis is a normal part of the aging process.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between bones at any joint in the human body wears away or breaks down. This causes the bones to grind together without any protective cushioning. Sometimes the grating makes an audible sound, called crepitation.

Osteoarthritis can be extremely painful, causing the joints to swell and become stiff. The muscles and ligaments surrounding the joints can weaken. This can increase fall risks and other injuries.

Aging, repeated movements, injuries, and obesity are the leading causes of osteoarthritis

Some cases of osteoarthritis are occupational. Any job which involves repeated movements such as kneeling, lifting, or climbing ladders all day can increase the risk of occupational osteoarthritis.

Sports injuries and accidental fractures can also increase the risk of osteoarthritis later in life.

Obesity definitely increases the risk of osteoarthritis due to the extra weight placed on hips, knees, and foot joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune joint disease

Rheumatoid arthritis involves the joints and surrounding tissues, but it is different than osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune joint disease in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue.

RA can affect children as well as adults, and women more than men.

While the medical community is unsure of how rheumatoid arthritis is caused, this joint disease has been linked to infection, hormonal imbalance, and genetic factors.

The symptoms and progression of rheumatoid arthritis can be crippling

Perhaps the flagship symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is joint pain and stiffness in the presence of extreme fatigue. It is painful to move, yet if the affected person does not move, the stiffness and pain become worse.

With time, the joints become deformed and completely dysfunctional. Dry eyes, numbness, and skin nodules may occur as the disease progresses to other parts of the body.

Eventually, even vital organs such as the lungs and heart may be involved.

Fibromyalgia is a disease in which everything hurts, including joints

Fibromyalgia is more of a complicated syndrome than a simple disease affecting one part of the body. Many of the soft tissues are involved in fibromyalgia, including the joints.

Fibromyalgia affects mainly women and possibly may be caused by emotional trauma, long term sleep deprivation, or an abnormal response to pain.

Chronic fatigue syndrome, clinical depression, chronic pain, and an under-active thyroid are often associated with fibromyalgia.

People with fibromyalgia sometimes report that it hurts to be touched. Although fibromyalgia is not technically a joint disease, it feels like the pain shoots from the joints.

Weather changes, activity, and stress can trigger the pain in fibromyalgia.

Most people with fibromyalgia have difficulty sleeping due to discomfort.

Other symptoms of fibromyalgia can include heart palpitations, brain fog, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches, and numbness.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease affecting joints and other parts of the body

Systemic lupus erythematosus, commonly referred to as SLE or lupus, is yet another autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue. Joint pain and swelling is the most common symptom of lupus, and arthritis may occur with lupus.

While the cause of lupus remains a mystery to the medical community, the disease can be triggered by pharmaceutical drugs.

Patients with SLE often experience joint pain, swelling, and arthritis all over their hands as well as in their knees. They get tired easily, lose their hair, get sores in their mouths, develop a skin rash, experience chest pains, and in general, feel horrible.

A lupus patient can also have serious issues with his heart, digestive system, lungs, eyes, or central nervous system. Many lupus sufferers are sensitive to sunlight.

Gout is arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in the blood

Gout can be either acute or chronic. In acute gout, arthritis is found usually in one joint. With chronic gout, multiple joints may be involved. There are repeated episodes of arthritic pain and inflammation.

Gout is caused either by either an overproduction of uric acid or difficulty removing it from the body. When there is a buildup of uric acid, the uric acid crystallizes in the joints, causing pain and swelling. These uric acid crystals also form kidney stones.

Gout is most often found in men and older women, alcoholics, diabetics, obese people, and in people with kidney disease.

Gout can also be triggered by diuretics and certain pharmaceutical drugs.

Gouty joints are crushingly painful, very tender, feel warm to the touch, and turn red with inflammation. The pain may last for several days, and fever may be present.

Patients with chronic gout may develop lumps around the joints called tophi.

Osteonecrosis is a bone disease that causes joints to deteriorate

Osteonecrosis means, literally, “bone death.” The disease is caused by a lack of blood in the bones. Bones are living tissue and must have a rich supply of blood.

Without nutrients and oxygen from the blood, bones become brittle and collapse. The joints protecting the bones also deteriorate, leading to arthritis.

Common causes of osteonecrosis are diseases such as sickle cell disease, diabetes, and atherosclerosis. Also, osteonecrosis is often associated with long-term steroid use, radiation treatments, and excessive alcohol consumption.

Osteonecrosis patients suffer from chronic pain which becomes excruciating as the bones and joints deteriorate and collapse. Limited range of motion and limping is quite common.

Treating joint disease naturally starts with a healthy diet

Losing weight and maintaining a lean and healthy lifestyle is crucial for preventing and managing all joint diseases. Since being overweight is one of the main causes of joint diseases, weight loss should be considered the first step in stopping or treating joint disease.

To lose weight safely, follow these tips from WebMD:

  • Plan to lose no more than 2-3 pounds per week or 8-10 pounds per month
  • One pound of body fat is 3500 calories. Cutting 500 calories per day from the diet will result in a one-pound weight loss per week. 
  • Cutting 1000 calories from the diet will result in a two-pound weekly weight loss
  • Burning 500 calories with an hour of vigorous exercise is another way to lose one pound per week. 
  • Activities burning 500 calories in an hour include jogging at 5mph, playing racquetball, cross-country skiing, and high-impact aerobics. 
  • Joint disease sufferers may need to consider low impact exercises such as swimming, walking, cross-training, tai chi, or yoga
  • Never eat less than 1200 calories per day, or the body goes into starvation mode and begins to store fat in preparation for a perceived “famine”
  • Reduce or eliminate all starches such as grains, potatoes, legumes, and anything containing flour
  • Reduce or eliminate refined white sugar and salt
  • Eat mostly skinless chicken breasts, egg whites, fish, 95% lean meat, vegetables and fruit, and non-fat dairy products if tolerated
  • Eat three meals and one or two healthy snacks every day
  • Drink at least a half-gallon of water daily. Dehydration may be behind many chronic joint diseases. Water is a key factor in lubricating the joints and supplying healthy “shock absorbers.” 
  • Eliminate coffee, black tea, and sodas. These drinks act as diuretics and rob the body of water
  • Eliminate or severely restrict the intake of alcohol

Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the College of Medicine, University of Arizona, states that managing arthritis and other joint diseases definitely starts with a healthy diet.

Specifically, a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids such as wild-caught salmon, ground organic flax seeds, eggs, and walnuts is beneficial to people with joint disease.

Ginger and turmeric have been clinically proven to support healthy joints.

Also, Dr. Weil recommends up to nine cups of fresh fruit and vegetables in a wide variety of colors every day.

For rheumatoid arthritis, Dr. Weil suggests a vegan diet.

Ronald Lawrence, M.D., Ph. D. is a leading expert in the field of geriatrics, sports medicine, and pain. Besides the above recommendations, he adds the following suggestions for people with joint disease:

  • Poor diet, environmental toxins, excess alcohol, chronic stress, birth control pills, and pharmaceutical drugs can all contribute to a variety of joint disease. Eliminate or reduce contact with these substances
  • Eat food high in Vitamin C and boron, such as raw nuts, avocados, fruits, and vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and onions
  • Take joint-supporting supplements: glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and MSM
  • Physical therapy, massage therapy, and applications of heat and cold may also help with the pain associated with joint disease
  • Orthotics and chiropractic treatments may help in some cases
  • Stress-relief techniques such as relaxation, meditation, and journaling may help with conditions such as fibromyalgia

Herbalists recommend a variety of herbs to support the joints and reverse joint disease

Traditional herbalists, such as the late master herbalist Dr. John Ray Christopher, have suggested many herbs to aid the person suffering from joint disease.

In addition to a very healthy diet and lifestyle, the following herbs and foods may be considered for joint diseases:

  • Osteoarthritis- chaparral, mullein, apple cider vinegar, cayenne, lobelia, sarsaparilla, alfalfa, yucca, boneset
  • Rheumatoid arthritis- burdock root, apple cider vinegar and honey, pectin, chaparral, cayenne
  • Fibromyalgia- “superfoods” herbs such as wheatgrass, barley grass, and alfalfa, skullcap, “detox” herbs for the colon, liver, kidneys, and blood
  • Lupus- pau d’arco, blessed thistle, boneset, stinging nettle, chaparral
  • Gout- blessed thistle, burdock, birch, stinging nettle, kava kava, lemon balm


Sources for this article include:

Pubmed.gov, “Osteoarthritis.” A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia, September 26, 2011

Pubmed.gov, “Rheumatoid Arthritis.” A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia, February 2, 2012

Pubmed.gov, “Fibromyalgia.” A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia, February 14, 2011

Pubmed.gov, “Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.” A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia, February 14, 2011, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001471/

Pubmed.gov, “Gout.” A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia, June 28, 2011

Pubmed.gov, “Osteonecrosis.” A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia, June 4, 2011

WebMD.com, “Lose Weight Fast: How to Do it Safely,” by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

Sheknows.com, “Top 10 Calorie Burners,” by Michele Borboa, MS

Prevention.com, “Ask Dr. Weil: A Diet for Arthritis,” by Andrew Weil

Livestrong.com, “Foods High in Boron and Vitamins,” by Corinna Underwood

Healingwell.com, “Learn to Prevent Arthritis, Not Just Live With It,” by Ronald M. Lawrence, M.D., Ph. D., and Martin Zucker

Herballegacy.com, “Arthritis”

Herballegacy.com, “Rheumatism”

Herballegacy.com, “Fibromyalgia”

Herballegacy.com, “Lupus”

Herballegacy.com, “Gout”

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