Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Causes, Prevention, and What You Can Do

Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Causes, Prevention, and What You Can Do
Julie Doherty Naturopathic Physician Hackham, SA

An Accredited Member of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society, Julie Graduated with distinctions from S.A. College of Botanic Medicine and Natural Therapies Pty Ltd. Professional Qualifications include: Naturopathic Doctor, Herbal & Homoeopathic Practitioner: Diet and Nutritional Medicine: Remedial & Therapeutic... more

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, all involving some disorder or inflammation of the joints.

Two of the most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These two common forms of arthritis affects thousands of Australians; the next most common form is gout, this being caused by crystals of uric acid collecting in the joints.

Osteoarthritis causes swelling, pain, and stiffness, in many cases causing deformation to the joints. The areas of the body most commonly affected are the hips, knees, spine and hands. The cartilage that is between the bones of the joints, known as shock absorbing cartilage becomes rough and worn. The bones therefore rub together and wear when the joints are flexed. Muscles and ligaments are also weakened. Women appear to be a more risk than men.

Rheumatoid arthritis also affects more women than men. During an attack on the tissue, tendons and ligaments of the joint become inflamed. Feet and fingers are the usually the first parts to be affected, then the wrists, knees, shoulders, ankles and elbows. Symptoms include swelling, stiffness and pain in the joints, red, shiny skin over the joints, with lack of flexibility, general feeling of stiffness and restricted movement. Sometimes there is numbness in the hands; this is can be carpel tunnel syndrome. Often with Rheumatoid arthritis there can be loss of weight, appetite, fever and feeling generally unwell.

Even though the exact causes of arthritis are generally unknown, over the years it has become clearer as to what these might be, no matter whether you are a woman or a man: Age, weight, diet, sporting injuries, impaired immune system, engaging in habits that cause harm to your body and lack of mobility play a role as some of the underlying causative factors.

As a Naturopath, Here's What I Recommend

Self Help - Diet 

  • Foods to include: A wholefood diet with a large proportion of vegetables, fruits such as apples, kiwi fruit, bananas, pears, rockmelon, watermelon, lentils, beans and quinoa, yogurt of either sheep or goats. Chicken, fish and eggs in moderation appear to do no harm and provide variety in your diet.
  • Foods to eliminate: Dairy, red meat, wheat and gluten as these, along with processed foods are the most common cause of allergies.  Eliminate acid forming foods such as oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, rhubarb, tomatoes, salt, sugar (use honey instead of sugar). Eliminate all deli meats, processed meals, soft drinks and minimize consumption of alcohol.
  • Foods that help to prevent and reduce pain, and may help with some restoration and healing. Turmeric, ginger, galangal, alfalfa, apple cider vinegar, cod liver oil, flaxseeds/flaxseed oil, green vegetables, almonds, walnuts and brazil nuts.
  • Filtered water: drinking 8 - 10 glasses of filtered water a day helps to flush out the toxins, rehydrate your joints, supporting healthy kidney and liver function.
  • The most important thing when it comes to diet is to have a diet that keeps your body in an alkaline state, so in making your diet 75 - 80% Vegetables, Fruit, Nuts and seeds, 20 - 25 % animal protein is what is known as an alkaline diet. It not only benefits conditions such as arthritis, but also prevents other diseases such as cancer, heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney, and liver problems.

Self Help - Hydrotherapy

Swimming and bathing take the weight off joints, while warm water relaxes muscles and relieves pain. By adding half a cup of Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) to your bath water, this aids in detoxification, so eliminating toxins that are not to be a causative factor to many areas of ill-health, including arthritis. Adding sea salt or dried seaweed (Nori sheets found in the supermarket), this is known as Thalassotherapy.

Thalassotherapy is the therapeutic use of the seawater, marine products like algae, seaweed, and marine mud, and even the marine climate to promote health, wellness, and beauty. The name comes from the Greek words Thalassa ("the sea") and therapia ("treat"), coined by Frenchman Dr. Jacques de la Bonnardière in the 1860s. It was traditionally a cure for people with joint problems and injuries, and yes, the French health care would pay for a visit. More recently the emphasis has moved to relieving stress, losing weight, and addressing aches and pains.

Many people go to day spas, or spa retreats to receive this therapy. However, like most things, you won't find major benefits by just doing it now and again, the focus here is on engaging with this self-help in the comfort of you own home, where 2 - 3 x week will give you amazing results and you will feel the benefits.

When you immerse your body in warm seawater combination, the body absorbs the minerals it needs, such as the trace elements of magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium, and iodide through the skin. This gives major healing benefits within your body.

Self Help - Cremes or Lotions

Over the years with supporting my clients health with this painful condition, I formulated my Just for You by Julie range of skin, hair and body care, a specialized crème including blend of herbs and essential oils reduces pain and supports healing and repair of muscles, tendons and ligaments that have been injured or overused. The essential oils and herbs included are, coconut, arnica, hypericum, comfrey, guaiacum, clove, turmeric, eucalyptus, cayenne, chamomile, rosemary, tea tree, wintergreen, and peppermint. You can order this crème following this link.

Self Help - Exercise

The four most beneficial exercises for arthritis, no matter what type are:

  • Stretching: Have you ever watched a cat or a dog when they go to get up? They more often than not don't just take off; they stretch each limb and muscle, then gradually begin walking. It is important that we do the same thing each morning before getting out of bed, or when getting out of a chair. Stretch your legs, shoulder rotations, stretch your arms, your neck, your fingers and your toes. Remember the nursery rhyme - bend and stretch, reach for the stars; this is a great little tune to hum or sing to while you stretch.
  • Yoga: It has become very popular in order to restore and maintain flexibility, relieve pain, and improve both your body and your mind. This can be done in the comfort of your own home. You can find them on YouTube or buy a DVD, and also there are books available with simple yoga poses you can do. If you want to do this with other people, you can find them in local paper or on Facebook, or just google a yoga class that will be nearby.
  • Walking: You know the old saying, "If you don't use it you lose it." Walking definitely helps not just with arthritis, but it also helps your heart, your lungs, your bowels (it helps to prevent incontinence) and of course your mind. Getting out in the fresh air and seeing all the wonder in nature is just great for your health and wellbeing.
  • Swimming: So you are going to say - "But I cant' swim or I am not a very good swimmer," well it doesn't matter! Any movement in the water is going to benefit your flexibility and movement, while not causing any further harm or pain. This is particularly important especially if your arthritic condition is chronic, being that you have been suffering from it for a great deal of time. It is important to start with tiny steps, so going to your local beach or pool is a great place to start. Just walking in the water, if you can up to waist deep, is helpful for you.

Self Help - Eliminating Harmful Habits

Harmful habits such as smoking and taking drugs, even prescribed medications, can lead to further health problems. Excessive drinking of alcohol, soft drinks, and even processed fruit juices can cause health problems. So if any of these are a problem for you, it is important that you begin a process of elimination beginning with the most harmful one first, replacing that with a healthier alternative, do that for a month, then go to the next one.

For example, if you are going to give up smoking, replace this with a 30 minute daily walk. Then if you want to cut out soft drinks, replace this with herbal teas and water.

Becoming well, no matter what your health concerns are, is about learning to love yourself, understand yourself, and be kind to yourself. Understand your body, what makes it feel better, and what makes it feel worse.

If you want to conquer harmful habits, you will find my book, Why Can't I Give Up Smoking? helpful.

You can download your copy by following this link.

What happens when you want to book a consultation?

If you are looking for support to follow through with the changes you need to make, finding it all a bit overwhelming, not quite knowing where to start, then an online Naturopathic consultation is recommended. Before prescribing any treatments or remedies, you will need to fill out an intense questionnaire that you will be able to download by following this link 

How the consultation process works

On receiving your completed questionnaire, you will then receive an invoice with your online consultation fee. Once this fee is paid your consultation process begins.

I'll review your health history and current health concerns or lifestyle changes you have provided. I will look at what appears to be the underlying causative factors. This will give the necessary information to provide the best suitable treatment regime for you. If further information is necessary I will communicate via email.

I will provide you with

  • Review and recommended changes to commence improving your Health immediately
  • Self-help strategies for improved nutrition
  • A Personalized Menu and Dietary Plan to follow with links to recipes
  • Initial steps for lifestyle changes
  • Consult review email with all the suggestions that have been during your consultation
  • Individual Herbal or Homeopathic medicines may be suggested. (These will be at an additional cost to your consultation fee.)

To begin your consultation process click here.