As we age, our joints begin to ache with the strain of use; if we don’t do anything about it (and sometimes even if we do), we develop osteoarthritis in our knees, ankles, hips and hands. There are myriads of treatments available from the allopathic medical world, but no real solutions short of surgery, and there are no guarantees about the surgery, either. Allopathic pain relievers are available over-the-counter, and they work for the most part. However, they come with serious side effects, and most people are totally unaware of the risks they take when they grab one of them. OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatories carry the same side effects as their prescription counterparts – stomach upsets, bleeding, liver dysfunction, cardiovascular problems, stroke, and tolerance levels – only these are not as well publicized as the ones for the prescription drugs. The OTC drugs are also precursors to prescription drugs; continual use builds up a tolerance for the medication, and to find relief you either take far more of the OTC drug than you should, or you move on to the prescriptions.
There are alternatives to allopathic pain relievers for joint pain; some are long-term, some are short-term, but they will provide pain relief from your aching joints without serious side effects.
It’s actually a misnomer to call these short-term solutions; you can use these vitamins and supplements for your entire life if you need to. They are classed as short-term because they provide relief quickly, without having to make major life-style changes.
Calcium is a necessary mineral, not just for bones but for life. Your muscles require calcium for proper function, as well as some metabolic processes. Calcium is also necessary for bone growth and strength; when the body does not receive enough calcium, either through diet or supplements, it takes it from a readily available source – your bones. This leads to osteoporosis if the calcium deficit is not addressed. Most people require 1,000 – 1,200 mg of calcium daily; this is readily available from fortified cereals and juices, or you can take a supplement.
Vitamin D is necessary for many metabolic processes; it’s also required to properly absorb calcium. You can’t properly absorb calcium unless your body has enough vitamin D to form vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is the form of vitamin D allowing your body to absorb calcium. So, keep your vitamin D3 levels up, either through diet or with supplements. The common dose of vitamin D3 is 400 iu, but alternative practitioners recommend 1,000 to 2,000 iu a day, to keep your body functioning as it should.
Ginger has long been used in Chinese and Indian medicine as an anti-inflammatory treatment. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties cause the Chinese and Indian practitioners to use it for arthritis joint pain. If you require hard, scientific evidence before using an alternative therapy, there is a limited amount of study evidence in support of ginger. However, if you are willing to rely on hundreds of years of empirical evidence, give ginger a look. Ginger is a blood-thinner, so if you have circulatory issues or are planning a surgery, be sure to discuss it with your practitioner first.
The active ingredient in this spice is curcumin. The Chinese and Indian practitioners have long recognized its anti-inflammatory capabilities, and have successfully used it as a treatment for arthritis joint pain and stiffness. There is scientific support for the claims, but no human trials as of yet, so you’ll have to decide whether or not to give it a try.
Omega-3 Fish Oils
Omega-3s are an essential fatty acid, necessary for healthy cells and many metabolic processes. Omega-3s also are used in the production of chemicals in the body controlling inflammation, in the blood, joints, and tissues. Omega-3s are classified as essential, because we cannot live without them, and we cannot make them in our bodies. They are available from walnuts, soybean oil, canola oil, eggs, and coldwater fish such as salmon and tuna. They are also available in supplements. As the supplements are made from real fish, pesticides, mercury, and PCB contamination is something you need to consider. Look for supplements promising pure oil with no contaminants. Be sure the supplement contains both DHA and EPA oils. One to three grams, but no more than three grams, a day is the recommended dose.
Arnica is an old treatment, used as a topical for joint injuries, bruises, muscle strains or sprains and soreness. It has no side effects, and works as well as any OTC topical available.
SAMe is a naturally-occurring chemical in the body; it improves your mobility, rebuilds cartilage, and is known to ease symptoms of arthritis, fibromyalgia, tendonitis, chronic lower-back pain, and depression. SAMe is available in supplements, but be sure your intake of the B vitamins is adequate when you use it.
These therapies are long-term because they involve lifestyle changes, and take a longer time to provide relief than those listed under the short-term list. These therapies will provide lasting relief for a lifetime, and may allow you to reduce dosages or stop drug therapies altogether it. Losing weight and keeping it off is a lifestyle change, as it involves changing you’re eating and exercise habits, and the way you think about things.
This one is the hardest to achieve, but will provide the longest-term relief. One pound of weight-loss reduces the pressure on your knees by four pounds. The more weight you lose, the better your joints will like it.
Oh, there’s that dirty word again – exercise. It seems totally counterintuitive, but exercise will actually help your joints feel better. Certainly not at first, but as you exercise more your joints will get relief from the activity. You need to tailor your exercise program to your fitness condition, but if you keep at it you will not only assist your weight-loss goal, but you’ll feel better.
This is also becoming something of a dirty word. Mostly because everybody has a different opinion on what eating well means. If you accept the allopathic idea of a healthy diet, you may find yourself gaining weight instead of losing it, and developing blood sugar issues along the way. Think about it: in the late 1950s and early 1960s, America had an obesity average of about eight percent of the total population. Enter the government and the AMA, NIH, and just about every other alphabet combination going, and before you know it, we have not only an obesity epidemic, but a diabetes epidemic as well. As more and more women were encouraged to enter the workforce, the American diet became dependent on processed and pre-packaged foods.
As work hours increased, and physical activity time in schools decreased, we all got fatter, even if we followed the government’s recommended guidelines. Fat became the villain, and sugar became evil. Truth number one: Fat does not make you fat. Fat is higher in calories than the other food groups, so you do have to keep it in mind if you’re watching your calorie intake, but buying foods labeled as low-fat is a sure-fire way to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Why? Because when they take out fat, they have to put something else in, to make it taste good, and the something else is not something your body recognizes as a satiety control. Fat triggers your hormones to control your intake. Take it out, and you eat way too much at one sitting. Truth number two: Sugar is not evil. True sugar will metabolize faster in your body and consequently shoot up your blood sugar, but not as fast as a drink sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose is a form of sugar; it’s found naturally in fruits. High-fructose corn syrup is a high-sugar form of corn syrup that is much cheaper than regular cane sugar.
Consequently, food manufacturers use it instead of sugar to reduce their production costs. Cola doesn’t make you fat either, if it’s made with real sugar. You’ll gain weight from the carbonation causing you to retain water faster than you will from a true sugar-sweetened drink. If you eat a natural diet, composed of fresh fruits, lean meats and chicken, wild-caught fish, fresh vegetables, and non-wheat breads, your weight and joints will both thank you. This diet also includes true sugars – honey, agave, or stevia. Even cane sugar is ok, in moderation.
Living without Pain
You can live a life without constant pain; you will have to make changes in how you eat and how you exercise, but in the long run you’ll be better off. There are natural therapies that can give you short-term relief as you work on your long-term goals, and they’ll do it without unpleasant side effects for the most part. Life is short, and you don’t have to live it in pain.
About the Author
Churchill Otieno, holds a degree in Communications and Public Relations. He is an accomplished independent researcher, experienced, professional writer based in Chicago, IL past Mombasa, Kenya. He is also an author and publisher for ConsumerHealthDigest Joint Pain Center. He has an additional credentials in health and wellness. He has been writing articles on health for more than two years with interest on bone, joint health, arthritis, osteoarthritis etc.
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