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If you have deep, achey pain in a joint that doesn’t go away with time it’s likely some form of arthritis.  Lower back pain can be arthritic in nature (as opposed to muscle) if it behaves similarly– deep, achey, doesn’t seem to ever go away entirely; and you have a history of physical impact to your body.

Most people associate arthritis with the elderly.  But did you know it can affect younger people as well?

The word arthritis translates to “joint inflammation.”  There are several forms of arthritis, the two most common types being rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Diagram of a synovial (diarthrosis) joint.

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an auto-immune disorder, where the body’s white blood cells attack the synovium of synovial joints.  Synovium is the inner lining of a synovial joint— encased joints like in the spine, hips, knees and shoulders.  The synovium produces synovial fluid, which lubricates the inner joint as it moves.

People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis will have  bouts of severe joint swelling, redness, heat and pain.  It is an awful condition that can can severely impact mobility.  So far, drugs are the only treatment for RA.  It is believed to be a genetic disorder.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is described as joint pain and inflammation from wear and tear of the cartilage.  It is usually found in people who have suffered repeated joint trauma, like football and basketball players.  Marathon runners can develop it in the knees and hips as well.  OA is found in the weight bearing joints of the feet, ankle, knees, hips, lower spine and neck.

When repeated trauma impacts a weight bearing joint, over time it creates tiny fissures in the cartilage, which thins the cartilage and exposes the bone underneath.  From there, the bone forms bone spurs called osteophytes.  Radiologists describe these changes (disc degeneration plus osteophytes) as spondylosis of the joint.

Both types of joints can be painful, with RA being more acutely painful.  The symptoms are pain, joint stiffness and reduced range of motion.

TREATMENT:

In both cases, eating a low-inflammation diet will be helpful:  reduce sugar intake including high fructose corn syrup; limit carbohydrates to 150 grams per day; emphasize protein and fat, especially fish with high Omega 3 content; nut oils (walnut, almond, Brazil nuts), virgin olive oil, and raw plants (green leafy salads, lightly steamed vegetables).   Raw milk and butter from  grass fed cows is also good to add to your diet.  A teaspoon of coconut oil a day is also good.

Eating a  bone broth soup every day will give your body the constituents for rebuilding cartilage:  Visit your local butcher and ask for the large beef and pork joints.  They can saw these in little pieces in the back and give them to you in a bag; they price them pretty cheap; too!

Add a couple of pieces into a tall pot; fill half-way with water; add salt.  For extra bone-building strength add some eggshells (from cracked RAW eggs– You want the inner shell membrane to be intact; with boiled eggs the nutrient-rich membrane sticks to the egg).  Bring to a strong boil; reduce heat to low and cook for 60 minutes.  Steep out the eggshells, and drink the soup.  Eat any pieces of tendon stuck to the bones, and eat the bone marrow as well.  You can add spinach to the soup the last minute of boiling for more variety. (chicken and turkey carcasses and whole fish bones work well, too).

The calcium and cartilage nutrients you get from this bone broth can help your joints feel better.

In regards for temporary relief, heat works best with chronic pain and stiffness.  Apply a hydrocollator pack to your joint.  Cover with several layers of terry cloth towels to avoid skin burn.  Leave on for 10-15 minutes for deep heating.  Heating is not advised for rheumatoid arthritis when it is in a flare-up, hot and acute phase.

As far as medical care, joint replacement is a more drastic option but can effectively reduce pain while preserving some joint functionality.  There are also experimental procedures that involve culturing cartilage cells in a lab and injecting them into the joint space, hoping that they will bond to existing cartilage and thicken, but results are mixed at this point.

If you don’t have arthritis, do things that will help prevent you for getting it.  Build up your joint strength with the diet mentioned above, and avoid repetitious trauma to the weight bearing joints (activities that involve jumping and landing on a hard surface).  Strengthen surrounding ligaments of your knee and hip joints with exercises like weightless squats, knee bends, and simple uphill hiking.

Your joints are the most neglected part of your body; we often take them for granted.  But when one is injured or develops arthritis, you will realize very quickly how important they are to your happiness and well-being.  Don’t wait until it is too late; strengthening and nurturing your joints should be a definite part of your fitness routine.

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