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Yours in Health: Osteoarthritis and how to manage pain

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Arthritis or degenerative joint disease is the breakdown and wear of the cartilage in between joints. Symptoms of arthritis can start with stiffness and decreased range of motion, swelling and pain. Symptoms of arthritis will usually subside with movement and become worse with overuse. If you suffer from arthritis here is a list of management tools to help alleviate pain.

Movement and exercise are important and should be done in moderation. Overuse injuries can put increased wear on a joint, however daily movement and motion is important in helping to increase range of motion and vasodilation, or increased blood supply. A stretching or recovery routine can help with lessening pain. Active and static stretching along with foam rolling can help tremendously with tight muscles that may be contributing to arthritic pain. An example of active or dynamic stretching is a runner’s lunge where the body weight is used in an active movement versus sitting and passively stretching a muscle like the hamstring.

Diet is also very important when it comes to managing arthritis, and being able to clean your diet of inflammatory foods is vital. Decreasing alcohol is a great place to start, as alcoholic beverages can cause stress to the liver resulting in inflammation in the joints.

Nightshades like eggplant, peppers, white potatoes, tomatoes and paprika might also contribute to inflammation. While there is little scientific evidence that truly proves these claims, nightshades have an alkaloid layer called solanine and many holistic providers believe individuals may be sensitive to solanine, resulting in the attack and degeneration of joints.

Vitamin supplements such as turmeric, curcumin and vitamin D can also help decrease joint inflammation. Proteolytic enzymes (chymotrypsin, pepsin and trypsin), which are secreted by the stomach and the pancreas, help with protein digestion. The “Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine” reviewed 10 clinical studies revealing that individuals who supplemented with proteolytic enzymes, specifically bromelain, effectively reduced joint pain, stiffness and swelling.

Additionally, cherries are packed full of bioflavonoids which help decrease joint inflammation. According to the “Global Journal of Health Science,” omega-3 fatty acids help to relieve joint pain as much as analgesics. Flax, olive oil and fish contain the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Platelet-rich plasma regenerative therapy is a new alternative treatment for arthritis and chronic tendinosis. PRP is a therapy where a patient’s blood is centrifuged and the platelets are reinjected into a joint space. The growth factors then help to proliferate cellular activity. The goal of PRP is to decrease inflammation in a joint, improve the function of a joint, and slow down damage to cartilage tissue or even repair it. While more large-scale research is needed on this new break through therapy, Dr. Carlye Luft, NMD, has seen wonderful results with PRP in her Big Sky office.

Dr. Andrea Wick is a chiropractor and applied kinesiologist. She graduated from Life University in Marietta, Georgia, and now practices at Healing Hands Chiropractic  in Big Sky. She has a passion for holistic health care and being active in the outdoors.

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