Arthritis is a major affliction for many individuals across a range of ages. Although this condition is often associated with age, it can become evident in individuals as early as their mid twenties, and can be based on both genetic and lifestyle factors.
It should be noted that there are two main types of arthritis, and that while the manifestation of these conditions may be similar in symptomology, the causes are slightly different. Natural remedies for arthritis tend to address both the symptoms and the causes, and this can bring greater relief as well as physical healing.
Osteo arthritis is bone based, and while it is still prevalent in joint areas, it is the result of wear and tear on the connective tissue that causes it to break down and become inflamed. The pain and swelling that result is more closely related to how the bones are meeting in the joint area, versus the actual condition of the connective tissue itself.
While osteo arthritis does have genetic risk factors, it is more frequently a lifestyle event. It can be common in many former athletes, especially gymnasts, or people who engage in constant repetitive motions for work. Further contributors to the manifestation of osteo arthritis include:
- Excessive and intermittent pressure on joints
- Poor nutritional habits
- Frequent dislocation of specific joints
- Over calcification or mineralization in the bones
Rheumatoid arthritis is more specifically linked to genetic factors, although lifestyle contributors can also influence the severity of the condition. This disease specifically refers to severe inflammation in the connective tissues that can be accompanied by either an overabundance or lack of synovial fluids to cushion the joints. In these cases, the malformation that may be seen in appendages is swelling of the connective tissue, whereas with osteo arthritis it can be a combination of swelling and overabundant bone growth.
Rheumatoid arthritis does tend to run in families, and although the genetic link is evident, it is thought that environmental and lifestyle conditions can exacerbate or trigger the disease. The manner in which the body reacts is similar to an autoimmune issue, in that as the connective tissue begins to break down, the body generates an overly active histamine cascade to the affected area. As more joints begin to show wear, the body essentially goes into chronic immune response that also destroys parts of the surrounding tissue.
Although both forms of arthritis are different, they still directly impact the musculo-skeletal system, with particular ferocity focused on the joints. Although the use of NSAIDs are often advised for pain management, there can be long-term side effects from these drugs, and they also do not address the healing factor.
Conversely, the use of natural remedies can not only offer relief from pain and stiffness, but can also support the body’s innate healing ability. This can be particularly helpful for people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, since it also lessens the auto-immune reaction and can help to generally balance the physiology.
Epsom Salt Bath for Arthritis
Soaking in Epsom salts can provide considerable relief and healing for arthritis sufferers. This type of bath can be full body, but it can also be prepared to soak just a single affected area. As a result, many individuals find that this can be an easy way to address discomfort in specific joints, without having to take the time to draw a full bath. However, individuals who experience full body pain will also benefit from the relaxation that an Epsom salt bath afford, since this can also help to reduce an overactive immune response.
There are several major reasons why Epsom salt baths are effective.
- Hydrotherapy – being in water reduces the pressure that gravity puts on the bones and the joints. Even within the confines of the bath tub, the reduction of this pressure also eliminates some of the irritation that causes arthritis to become chronic.
- Heat – the bath water should be warm but not hot, as this will help to pull inflammation to the surface and reduce the pain that is felt. The heat also stimulates circulation, which helps to nourish the affected areas and encourages white blood cells to redistribute back into the bloodstream.
- Minerals – Epsom salts are high in magnesium, which aid in the softening of connective tissue. The minerals are absorbed through the skin and the overall effect is to ease stiffness and locking in the joints.
The Benefits of Therapeutic Turmeric
Although this spice is most commonly known for giving the color to curry powder, it is also a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory herb. The main way that is reduces inflammation and pain is through increasing cell metabolism and circulation throughout the body. This can offer symptomatic relief to individuals, but also supports the body’s healing function through balancing the immune response to the irritation.
Weight Loss and Exercise Keep People in Motion
Pressure on the joints can be a leading risk factor for arthritis, and obesity or being overweight can contribute to the deterioration of tissue because of this. Even losing as little as ten pounds can have a profound impact on the progression of the disease. Further, better nutrition can also help to ease symptoms, as reactions to processed or hard to digest foods can also trigger an auto-immune reaction.
While exercise should be included in any healthy weight loss program, it is also important for people with arthritis, since it raises the circulation and the internal temperature of the body. This can ease stiffness, but can also allow the body to strengthen the affected areas through use. Better muscle tone can also reduce the impact on joints, since this provides better overall strength and postural alignment.
The Importance of Glucosamine
As a supplement, glucosamine is often used to replace what is missing in the body and can be contributing to the manifestation of arthritis. Glucosamine is a proteinaceous sugar that is naturally produced in the body, and individuals who suffer from arthritis tend to show lower levels of this amino. However, supplementation replenishes the missing stores, and can also aid the body in the natural healing process.
Physical Therapy and Arthritis
For the same reasons that exercise can be beneficial, physical therapy can also have a positive impact for people with arthritis. This can be especially helpful for individuals whose condition has progressed to a point of severe impairment, since a skilled physical therapist can facilitate movement in a way that is healing and not harmful. This can also include practices such as cranio-sacral manipulation, and pool based physical therapy.