What is Arthritis?

Wear and tear, like death and taxes, are one of the few certainties in life. While a certain amount of regeneration of tissues occurs all the time, sustained mechanical stresses, traumas, toxicity and neuropsychological triggers (like depression, anxiety etc.) can create levels of tissue damage that can only heal through scarring and other processes of repair. Arthritis is one such condition.


First it must be pointed out there are two different types of Arthritis that are often confused by people as being the same thing.



The first is the wear and tear type of Arthritis that results from trauma, chronic postural faults or repetitive strain. It is commonly known as Osteoarthritis  or Degenerative Joint Disease.


The second is a genetically inherited type of auto-immune reaction, more commonly seen in young people, where the body turns against its own joints and creates an immune response to destroy them.  This type is known as an inflammatory arthritis and examples include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis among others.


In the first type, a joint is injured or stressed and as a result becomes sensitive and unstable. The brain recruits local muscles to spasm around the joint protectively and it also engages inflammatory mechanisms. If the insult to the joint is not resolved adequately, the muscle spasms will remain indefinitely, adding a chronic muscle strain to the clinical scenario. Further, by not healing adequately, the brain will then start depositing scarring and eventually calcium into the ligaments in an attempt to thicken and strengthen them (resulting in permanent joint stiffness and decreased mobility). Eventually, continual deposition of calcium causes fusion of the segment. So you can see how arthritis of this type is fundamentally a process of self defense and stabilisation against continual forces of joint sprain. Basically your brain is trying to protect you from yourself.


Everyone will get this type of arthritis- the question is how much and how bad. Most people think of this type of arthritis as a disease and cringe when told their “disc is worn out” as if something alien or evil has happened to their body, or that something has “gone bad”. The fact is that arthritic reaction to wear and tear is a normal, healthy, and natural process of self defense and nothing to be afraid of. You need to understand what triggered such self defense mechanisms, what continues to perpetuate it, and then how best to rehabilitate it and minimise further deterioration.


It should also be noted that other factors can play a significant role in the onset or perpetuation of this type of arthritis. It is well known for example that an accumulation of acids within the body will occur through chronic medication use; emotional disorders as well as poor diets: such as those high in processed foods (which use acids as preservatives); carbonated drinks (the carbon dioxide leads to the formation of carbonic acid); grain (wheat, rice, corn etc); and excessive meat consumption that all lead to a net acid body profile. When we sleep, the dehydration and inactivity that sets in at that time leads to a precipitation of those acids out into the tissues and joints, which is why many arthritic people feel achy in the morning, in spite of the fact they have had some rest. Once they rehydrate and raise their body temperature through movement, these acids dissolve back into the body fluids and the pain decreases again. Going on a detox is one way of eliminating these excessive acid build ups and can have a drammatic influence on the chronic pain of many elderly or otherwise arthritic people. We have a comprehensive program for detoxing that involves multiple therapies that will quickly restore the alkaline balance  of your body and alleviate symptoms of arthritis.

You need to learn how to live with and manage arthritis. Since it is not really an illness, there can be no cure. In the second type of Arthritis, since we are dealing with an inflammatory auto-immune disease, a cure aims to influence the whole immune system rather than just the joint itself, since the body is creating an immune response into otherwise normal tissues, mistakenly believing them to be foreign matter. That’s why sufferers of Rheumatoid types of arthritis are often put on powerful corticosteroid medication. Modern research is looking into modifying gene expression, but clinical application is still in its infancy. There are however, also therapies that can aid even in these serious and debilitating types of arthritis. Acupuncture can improve the pain sensitivity; our naturopath can assist with supplements and herbs to minimise inflammation and aid in joint repair, while energy healingtherapies available at the centre can improve those non-visible blockages that inflame and perpetuate sensitivities.








In the pictures above, you can see how a spinal disc in youth (fig #1) is moist, shiny, and has well defined outer and inner structures; with a clear central nucleus. The moderately worn disc of middle age (fig #2) has become discoloured, is more “dry” (i.e. less elastic and cushioning) and there is some invasion of the centre by thickened outer fibres, with the centre (nucleus) becoming lumpy rather than smooth and gelatinous. Finally, severely worn discs (fig #3) show total disruption, invasion and tearing of the internal fibres; there is thinning and elongation of the disc region, irregularity of the bone edge and spurring (bone formation) occurs along the edges.


So what can be done to alleviate it?

Understanding is the most important thing. Knowing why a joint has deteriorated to the point of stiffness, thinning of cartilage and inflammation will help you avoid those activities in the future and modify your routine to heal more effectively. As you minimise the aggravating factors you will already feel better. Also, one of the keys to rehabilitating arthritis is to encourage movement and use of the joint, but not so much that it stresses the structure too much. This is particularly important in auto-immune types of arthritis where active treatment can only really be performed when a joint is dormant (or not actively inflamed). Gentle exercises that encourage mobilisation and strengthening of support structures play an important role. Please visit our exercise sections for different routines.


Chiropractic adjustments of the nervous system help to normalise reflexes, stimulate joint receptors and break defense behaviour and posturing; they stimulate circulation and synovial fluid production within the joints and break excessive scarring and adhesions; they align the joint surfaces in an optimal way; and they stretch and stimulate muscles and reset or re-calibrate excessive contraction. Arthritis sufferers are actually among those who most benefit from Chiropractic care. To alleviate stiffness and improve blood flow, heat can be of benefit, particularly moist heat (such as a hot bath), since moist heat penetrates more deeply than dry heat. Epsom salts (Magnesium Sulfate) as well as some essential oils act as muscle relaxants so are a useful addition to any bath. Creams and liniments that improve circulation in arthritic joints may also be of benefit. We sell a special cream that is not available in shops that has very good pain-relieving qualities. Please phone the clinic for more information.



In addition, there are natural alternatives to painkillers and muscle relaxants, some of which have been subjected to rigorous clinical trials and shown to be as effective as anti-inflammatory drugs, but without the toxic side effects. Some examples include herbal supplements such as turmeric, arnica and the bromelains; joint nutrients such as glucosamine and chondroitin, which when combined with MSM have been shown to have a beneficial effect on auto-immune types of arthritis as well as the wear and tear type; specific minerals such as high potency bioavaliable magnesium; as well as homoeopathic remedies. While many of these supplements are available in shops, we caution that their quality is often poor, their potency unreliable, and since they are available “off the shelf”, their effectiveness is questionable. However, top quality supplements are available at our clinic, where we stock only the most potent practitioner-only prescription products from the most reputable producers. They are always far better value for money than the ones you buy in a shop. So please speak to our naturopath if you have any questions.


While arthritis can be a debilitating and frustrating condition, one thing is certain: every arthritis sufferer can improve with the right treatment, guidance and support. Why not call and make an enquiry today?

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