The Healthy Way

Monday, August 18, 2008

Treating Arthritis

Q: Dear Elena: I have very bad arthritis in my arms. Could you recommend some natural treatment options.

A: Arthritis is any pain that occurs in a joint. The two main forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Others include juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, Reiter's syndrome, gout and pseudogout. Treatment focuses on alleviating pain, preventing further degeneration and maintaining or improving joint mobility. Assuming you have osteoarthritis, the following can be useful for you.

Therapy for hand osteoarthritis should be individualized for the patient. Risk factors, type of osteoarthritis, level of inflammation, pain level, severity, disability, quality of life, should all be considered along with the patients wishes.

Patients should be educated about joint protection and given an exercise regimen.

Heat application (e.g. hot pack, heating pad, paraffin wax) and ultrasound are helpful for management of osteoarthritis of the hand. Tara O'Neil, owner of Escapology Spa often treats arthritis sufferers with specifically designed treatments. She uses a paraffin wax which is applied directly onto the skin. "The paraffin is a blend of hot wax and mineral oil which has great healing properties for arthritic pain and disability. The superficial heat will help ease discomfort and improve circulation. As well as helping to ease arthritic pain, you will find this treatment to be a very relaxing experience. Tara combines the paraffin treatment with an arm and hand massage or a leg and foot massage, which further enhances the benefits from this treatment.

Arthritis can often be improved by addressing the causes of inflammation before permanent damage has occurred. Changing ones diet often is helpful. Some patients sensitive to the Solanaceae otherwise known as Nightshade family vegetables do best in avoiding them. Symptoms often improve if one eliminates potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and tobacco from one's daily use. Use of natural anti-inflammatory herbs such as curcumin, boswelia, resveratrol-containing grape vine extract as well as anti-oxidants such as green tea extracts are very effective. Devil's claw herb extract either as fluid extract or dried herb is extremely effective in treating Osteoarthritis. Glucosamine Chondroitin is often used as an arthritis treatment to provide joint nutrition with great results. Fish oils are important to control inflammation. As always it is essential to keep the digestive system working at optimum levels and avoid any bacterial dysbalance.

For severe disease, I use homeopathic injections specifically designed for arthritis. They can be injected into and around the inflamed joints in place of traditional corticosteroid injections in to the joint often offered by medical professionals.

All The Healthy Way articles:

Dr. Elena Krasnov is a registered Naturopathic Doctor and Clinic Director of the Toronto Naturopathic Clinic. Submit your questions online here