Is Your Joint Pain Getting Worse?
Wow, this summer flew right by! September is Arthritis Awareness Month in Canada, so I thought it would be great to discuss this. Arthritis is an extremely common health concern that I treat at my clinic, and there’s lots of natural treatment options to help patients manage this condition naturally.
Arthritis is a broad term that includes several different types of arthritis:
– Infectious Arthritis
– Lupus Erythematosus
– Psoriatic Arthritis
– Rheumatoid Arthritis
I wanted to focus on osteoarthritis, since it’s the most common type of arthritis by far. Osteoarthritis (OA) is commonly thought of as a “wear and tear” form of arthritis and it affects 1 in 10 people! Osteoarthritis is different from other forms of arthritis because it does not affect any organs in the body. Osteoarthritis can occur in any joints in the body – the following joints are the most commonly affected:
With osteoarthritis, you can experience one or more of the following symptoms:
– Decreased range of motion
– Decreased mobility
– Loss of flexibility
– Bone spurs
– Clicking or cracking sounds
Osteoarthritis is primarily an issue with the joint cartilage. With “wear and tear” and as we age, our joint cartilage is continuously being remodelled. Cartilage is always undergoing the simultaneous processes of degradation and repair. When cartilage breakdown increases or cartilage repair cannot keep up, osteoarthritis ensues. Researchers have found that osteoarthritis is a distinct condition from cartilage breakdown due to aging.
There are four stages of osteoarthritis; each stage depends on the degree of cartilage breakdown and narrowing of the joint space. Each stage is described below:
Stage 1: Normal joint space.
Stage 2: Joint space starts to narrow and bone spurs begin to form.
Stage 3: At least 50% joint space narrowing and multiple bone spurs.
Stage 4: 60% loss of cartilage, joint space significantly narrowed, and very large bone spurs.
There is currently no cure for osteoarthritis and many pharmacological therapies are aimed at reducing pain and inflammation. Doctors often prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs for OA; as arthritis progresses, other options are used, such as corticosteroid joint injections and surgery. It’s important to note that long-term use of pain medications for OA can also have negative effects on your health over time.
There’s currently no drugs or medications that work to preserve the joint structures (cartilage, ligaments, tendons, etc.) and prevent further deterioration of the joints. As a Naturopathic Doctor, we have many natural treatment options that can achieve the following:
– Improve cartilage production
– Reduce inflammation
– Manage pain levels
– Improve joint lubrication
– Reduce cartilage breakdown
Some of the natural therapies that we can use to help manage arthritis can include:
Glucosamine – glucosamine is a natural compound that is used to stimulate the production of the building blocks for cartilage. Glucosamine has been shown to enhance the production of joint fluids, increase cartilage repair, while also slowing the degradation of cartilage.
Chondroitin – chondroitin is another compound that is commonly combined with glucosamine to inhibit cartilage degradation while stimulating the building blocks for cartilage production. Chondroitin also has anti-inflammatory actions.
Fish Oil – while omega-3 fatty acids do not help with cartilage production, they can help by reducing joint and cartilage inflammation. Fish oil has been shown to reduce joint pain and improve joint function in patients with osteoarthritis (1).
Collagen – Collagen supplementation has a high affinity for cartilage, which makes it a great option for joint pain and arthritis prevention. A study by Lugo et al. showed that collagen supplementation reduced measures of pain and stiffness and improved physical function in patients with osteoarthritis (2).
These natural treatments have been well-researched for their ability to improve joint structures and manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis. There are many other herbal medicines, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that we will use to treat osteoarthritis. We can also use natural anti-inflammatories to manage arthritis pain and improve joint function. When needed, we can incorporate acupuncture into our treatment protocols, as this will offer the most direct pain management for patients.
If you are suffering from chronic joint pain, please don’t hesitate to contact our Naturopathic clinic for an appointment so that we can get you started on a natural treatment plan!
Yours in health,
Dr. Michael Morsillo, H.B.Sc., N.D.
Newmarket Naturopathic Doctor
16655 Yonge St., Newmarket, ON
905-898-1844 ext. 135
1) Hill CL, March LM, Aitken D, et al. Fish oil in knee osteoarthritis: a randomised clinical trial of low dose versus high dose. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 2016; 75: 23-29.
2) Lugo J, et al. Efficacy And Tolerability Of An Undenatured Type II Collagen Supplement In Modulating Knee Osteoarthritis Symptoms: A Multi-Center Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrition Journal 2016; 15 (14).