When we think of healthful lifestyle choices we generally consider requirements for a healthy diet and regular vigorous exercise. We want to be sure we're eating a wide variety of foods from the p ...View Article
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Take Control of your Joint Pain, Naturally
Dr. Niele Maimone, DC
Joint pain is not an inevitable sign of aging, nor is it always a sign of a condition like arthritis. Instead, joint pain is most often a sign of chronic inflammation or hormonal imbalance. When a person learns to solve these underlying problems, most find their joint pain and stiffness significantly improve, or disappear altogether.
What's inflammation got to do with it?
The healthy immune system triggers the inflammatory response to deal with sporadic threats like injury or infection. But in many, the inflammatory response is constantly on a low "simmer." This chronic, low-grade inflammation prevents cell regeneration and repair and gradually tears down tissues - including those in your joints.
Chronic inflammation can be caused by a diet that's too high in refined carbohydrates and sugars and too low in essential fatty acids. A high-carb diet promotes prolonged high levels of insulin, which disrupts cellular metabolism and spreads inflammation. Undiagnosed food allergies or sensitivities also contribute to inflammation when those foods are eaten. Many people with chronic inflammation also suffer from digestion problems due to an inflamed digestive tract.
Stress is also an issue. Cortisol, the hormone released in response to stress, works as an inflammatory agent. Sustained stress - the kind most of us experience - can cause inflammation to spread like wildfire.
Joint pain and hormonal imbalance
Many of our female patients first report joint pain when they are approaching menopause. The hormone shifts that occur during this transition, especially fluctuating estrogen levels, can impact how our joints feel. Because estrogen normally has an anti-inflammatory effect in the body, falling estrogen levels also exacerbate the symptoms of chronic inflammation.
For women whose joint pain is related to hormonal fluctuations, phytotherapy can gently and effectively support hormonal balance and, for some, help lessen joint pain. Phytotherapy works by using specific herbs/plants to create balance within the body.
The natural approach to joint pain
There's a lot you can do to relieve your pain, starting with solving the underlying cause. A few simple dietary changes, like reducing refined carbohydrates and sugar, can make a dramatic difference in your joints. We recommend eating more fruits and vegetables, which contain natural anti-inflammatories, and adding a high-quality multivitamin to fill in any nutritional gaps. An elimination diet or lab tests can help identify any food allergies or sensitivities.
For our patients with joint pain, we recommend a high-quality omega-3 fatty acid supplement. Essential fatty acids are very effective at fighting inflammation, but it's almost impossible to include sufficient omega-3's in the average diet. You can increase your omega-3 intake by eating wild, not farmed, fish caught in the United States; these will be low in toxins and mercury.
Lifestyle changes like stress relief and moderate exercise can help regulate cortisol levels and reduce your inflammatory burden. A gentle but regular exercise program will also help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent excess wear on your hips and knees.
Explore natural therapies. Class IV Laser pain relief naturally breaks the inflammatory cycle and releases endorphins (natural pain killers) offering immediate relief to aching joints. Natural Medicine, Chiropractic, Acupuncture and Massage Therapy also can be useful in natural pain and inflammation reduction.
We've had great success helping people solve the causes of their joint pain. If you suffer from chronic pain it is worth your while to spend some time figuring out which of any number of factors are contributing to your pain - and which combination of therapies will help heal it. The good news is - you can do it without drugs, and you don't have to give up any of the activities you love!
Dr. Niele Maimone, DC of Align Healing Center in Danville, CA has been active in natural health & wellness for over 10 years. For more information or to set up a consult call 925.362.8283 or visit www.alignhealingcenter.com.