The Truth About Arthritis: With more than 100 different types, almost anyone in any age bracket can be impacted, says Dr. Paul Stallone.
Jan 30, 2016 12:54PM
● By Dr. Paul Stallone
Arthritis is a term we hear about almost daily. This term is used for any condition affecting joints and surrounding tissue. We hear about it on many pharmaceutical commercials promising relief. When grandma has difficulty walking up the stairs, we hear her say it's because of her arthritis. While we expect and sometimes ignore these encounters with arthritis, there's actually more to this symptom and its treatment. Many of us will accept the pain and stiffness as part of the aging process, however, with more than 100 different types of arthritis, almost anyone in any age bracket can be affected.
With the numerous types of arthritis, only two are well known: osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Both can cause intense joint pain, but they are each caused by different factors. OA generally develops in the knees, hips and hand joints that are chronically overused. Severe cases are usually presented in patients who've performed a repeated task over many years like with sports or certain hobbies. People that have a long history of being overweight are at greater risk for developing severe OA and could be diagnosed at a younger age. Regardless of the cause, the cartilage that separates the end of the bones eventually wears away.
Without this support, the bones rub together, causing pain, inflammation and even bone spurs. Many will ignore the warning signs and continue with their lives, creating more damage in the process. Most conventional treatments involve pain relievers and/or anti-inflammatory treatment to silence the pain, allowing us to continue to cause more damage. Eventually, a joint replacement may be recommended, as the pain and total integrity of the joint may be completely compromised.
Even though they both affect joints, an autoimmune inflammatory disease is responsible for causing RA. Basically, our immune system attacks the joints, eventually destroying the supportive tissue. More than one joint can be affected simultaneously. The chronic inflammation can create swelling, pain, deformations and stiffness, and reduce movement and functionality of the joint. As with any autoimmune disease, RA can develop in any age group for no apparent reason, and the severity can vary dramatically. Some will have the mildest of symptoms for decades with the disease never progressing. Conventional treatment can be invasive and aggressive. Many will be prescribed an immune suppressant. This course of treatment will suppress the immune system so that it no longer attacks healthy tissue, but with a weakened immune system, you're at greater risk for infections and other serious complications like cancer. Though very rare, some RA sufferers even undergo amputations.
Western medicine usually consists of symptom management while the disease is allowed to advance. The handling of arthritis is no exception. However, arthritis treatment with a naturopathic physician is completely different. Alternative medicine does involve treating symptoms like pain, but more importantly, the root cause of the disease is thoroughly addressed. Even as complicated as RA may seem, alternative options are available without the extreme side effects that accompany pharmaceuticals.
One option for joint pain is regenerating joint injections. Unlike cortisone injections that offer brief pain relief, these treatments actually address the joint damage. Permanent pain relief is accomplished by strengthening and tightening ligaments and tendons. Restoring the joint's overall stability is a permanent solution, not a Band-Aid approach. Almost anyone with joint pain is a candidate for these treatments. In place of prescription medication, natural supplements can help arthritis sufferers systemically. A customized supplement plan can eliminate pain and inflammation, and for those with RA, can address an overexcited immune system. It all starts with just one consultation with an experienced naturopathic physician.
Paul Stallone, NMD, founded the Arizona Integrative Medical Center, located at 8144 E. Cactus Rd., Ste. 820, in Scottsdale. He combines natural/alternative/conventional treatments to best fit and benefit each individual patient’s needs. For more information, call 480-214-3922 or visit DrStallone.com.