What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease, is more common than and differs from rheumatoid arthritis. OA is caused by aging and wear and tear on your joints that eventually breaks down cartilage. When the cartilage between your bones is reduced, your bones can then rub together, causing pain, swelling and stiffness. You may also experience bone spurs (extra growth of bone) at your joints, and the ligaments and muscles around your joints may weaken. With some, symptoms remain mild and can disappear at times, while others experience a worsening of symptoms with damp, cold weather. Having a job that requires repeated stress on the joints can put you at risk for OA, as can obesity, genetic predisposition, or having a preexisting condition such as a bleeding disorder, another type of arthritis, or a disorder that blocks the blood supply around a joint.
While there are no blood tests that can diagnose OA, X-rays can indicate a loss of joint space and in advanced cases bone spurs and degeneration may also be apparent.
As for conventional treatment, OA can be treated with analgesics and anti-inflammatories, although high-dose, long-term use can damage your liver or kidneys. Corticosteroids can be used, but only in severe cases and for a short time as they can damage cartilage and remove minerals from the bone, further weakening the joint. Artificial joint fluid can be injected into the knees to relieve pain for 3-6 months, and surgery may be recommended for severe cases.
How can natural medicine treat osteoarthritis?
Natural health care is excellent for treating osteoarthritis. Acupuncture and TCM can help reduce the pain, swelling and stiffness. Diet modification such as chondroitin supplementation can be very helpful and limit your symptoms greatly. Physiotherapy or chiropractic (especially with cold laser therapy) may help improve joint mobility and reduce pain, as can massage therapy.
Contact us for a FREE consultation on how natural therapy can help you prevent and manage osteoarthritis.
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