The Milk Diet

Arthritis and Joint Pain

Learn how to live without this debilitating disease! People in non-western cultures who eat diets low in animal fat and protein have much lower incidences of all types of arthritis!

While most arthritis sufferers are being told that they will need to “learn to live with it,” Drs. Goldhamer and Marano of the TrueNorth Health Center in Penngrove, Calif., are helping patients learn to live without it.

Arthritis is a general term which means inflammation of one of the joints in the body. We have all experienced inflammation at one time or another. The most common cause of inflammation is injury. Suppose you lose your footing and fall. During the fall you injure your ankle by twisting it. As a result, your ankle becomes inflamed. The injured area becomes red and hot, it swells up, and you experience pain. Fortunately, the symptoms associated with acute inflammation are part of the healing process. The increased blood flow to the area brings with it extra white blood cells, results in swelling and pain, and limits mobility, which prevents further damage. This process allows your body to heal itself quickly.

Because there are many different causes of inflammation, there are many different kinds of arthritis. The initial inflammation resulting from trauma or other injury, such as the one described above, is not the big problem. Continuous inflammation- the kind that goes on for years- is what leads to the very debilitating problems of arthritis, and it can result in permanently dysfunctional and deformed joints.

Osteoarthritis

The most common form of arthritis is called Osteoarthritis. This is what most people mean when they say, “My arthritis is bothering me.” The other name for Osteoarthritis is degenerative joint disease, which is a pretty good description of what happens-the joints degenerate.

Osteoarthritis is seen most frequently in the joints that are most used and abused. It is considered a disease of “aging,” but certainly it is not caused by getting older. Whether you develop Osteoarthritis or not depends, to a large degree, on how you live your life. In fact, Osteoarthritis is not just for the aged. By age 30, 35% of people are beginning to show some signs of osteoarthritic changes in their knees, and by ages 70 to 79, at least 85% of people have diagnosable Osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis can take place in any joint. As you would expect, carpenters tend to develop Osteoarthritis in their wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Tailors tend to develop it in their hands and fingers. People who are obese tend to have inflammation in their ankles, knees, and hips.

Typically, Osteoarthritis affects a single joint or just a few joints. The early stages of the process are painless. But in time, the pain begins to develop into a deep ache. Many people with Osteoarthritis feel some stiffness after resting and upon waking in the morning. But this stiffness usually lessens after the person has had time to move around a little.
 
Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis belongs to a group of ailments that are called antigen/antibody diseases, or immune complex diseases. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system malfunctions and damages the joint tissues. Inflammation of the joints leads to cartilage destruction. Rheumatoid arthritis is found in between 1% and 4% of the population.

All of your joints are covered by a layer of smooth cartilage which allows your joints to move easily; this lets your body move and distribute its weight evenly. The rheumatoid arthritis process causes the degeneration and destruction of this cartilage. Once this happens, the bone itself begins to erode and the joint becomes deformed.

Rheumatoid arthritis is usually seen in the peripheral joints-especially the hands, elbows, knees, and even the feet sometimes-and because it is a systemic problem, the distribution is usually symmetrical. If you have it on your right side, you usually have it on the left side, too, in the same joints. You have probably seen someone who has swollen and misshapen joints that do not bend properly. These severe changes are often the result of rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects approximately three times more women than men, and most often appears between the ages of 35 and 50. Rest, which is helpful in Osteoarthritis, does not seem to alleviate the pain of rheumatoid arthritis; the pain persists. In addition, morning stiffness is much more severe than in Osteoarthritis; it lasts a longer time. As a result, many people resort to taking some kind of medication to get past the stiffness and pain just so that they can button their clothes or tie their shoes.

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common types of arthritis. But there are other less common types, such as gout, lupus erythematosus, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, etc. There appears to be a genetic predisposition to rheumatoid arthritis, and the less common types of arthritis tend to have strong genetic predispositions associated with them as well.

Is there hope for relief?

People who suffer from arthritis usually seek some form of treatment to solve their problem. Unfortunately, arthritis of all types has a very poor prognosis under medical treatment. There is no cure for any of the types of arthritis, and medical treatment consists mainly of attempting to relieve pain.

Although medical treatment is not a viable solution, there is hope for those willing to develop a new awareness. New attitudes and behaviors toward arthritis can lead to the lessening, and sometimes the elimination, of pain.

Practical tips

Some of the steps you can take to alleviate the pain of Osteoarthritis are primarily mechanical and are relatively easy to implement.

Osteoarthritis can be caused or aggravated by poor body mechanics, so correction of poor posture and training in proper body use-such as the Alexander technique or similar techniques that teach proper body use-may be beneficial in relieving pain and stopping the progression of Osteoarthritis.

Do not overload or overtax your joints. Alternate your activities to use different parts of your body, and if possible take frequent rest periods during the day. You can apply heat packs or ice packs both before and after a session of use of an inflamed joint. This can be very helpful in reducing pain and stiffness. Ice and heat stimulate blood flow to the area, which brings in added oxygen and nutrients.

Beneficial exercise

Mild exercise that moves the joint, but does not aggravate it, can be very beneficial. Exercise prevents muscle atrophy around the affected joints. Muscles protect the joints, which is why it is so important to maintain the muscle strength around an arthritic joint. Exercise also helps circulate fluids in the joint capsule. There aren’t any direct blood vessels that go right to the joint surfaces, so oxygen and nutrients cannot get directly to the cartilage coating around the joints. Nutrients have to diffuse from the nearest blood vessels into the fluid that is in each joint. Exercise assures that there is plenty of motion of the fluid around the joints, so that the nutrients and the oxygen can get delivered. This allows the joints to repair themselves and prevents further degeneration.