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Do You Have Arthritis?
Here is the Latest on What Experts Know -- and Don't Yet Know

© 2021 Health Realizations, Inc. Update

Arthritis, the leading cause of disability in the United States, manifests in more than 100 different forms, the most common being osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia.

It's estimated that this painful disease affects one in five Americans, or a total of 46 million people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As the population ages, these numbers are expected to keep rising. By 2030, experts believe 67 million people will have arthritis.

Arthritis is Not an "Old-Age" Disease

Though arthritis is more common in older people (and women), nearly two-thirds of people with arthritis are younger than 65. Arthritis can affect young adults, 20-somethings and middle-aged people. Even children can be affected; over 300,000 children have some form of juvenile arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

Because it affects such a wide group of people, and can cause debilitating symptoms, arthritis is fast becoming one of the nation's leading public health problems. According to the CDC:

  • Close to 19 million U.S. adults said their activities were limited by arthritis from 2003 to 2005.

  • More than 5 percent of the U .S. population has work limitations because of arthritis.

  • More than 30 percent of people with arthritis report work limitations due to the disease.

  • Arthritis results in 750,000 hospitalizations and 36 million out-patient visits every year.

  • Medical costs directly related to arthritis reached $81 billion in 2003, with total costs reaching $128 billion.

  • These numbers above have greatly increased and could double by 2018 as the baby-boomers more and more come of age for the highest levels of arthritis.
What Exactly IS Arthritis?

Each of the 100-plus forms of arthritis is unique in its exact cause and symptoms, but there is a commonality. Arthritis means "joint inflammation," and all arthritic conditions affect the musculoskeletal system and, in particular, the joints (where two or more bones meet).

In people with arthritis, the joints can become painful, stiff and inflamed, and joint cartilage and surrounding structures can become damaged. This can lead to weakness in the joints, instability and deformities that can make daily tasks -- from walking to cutting your food or typing on a computer -- very difficult.

Some forms of arthritis do not stop at the joints, however. Systemic arthritic conditions can affect your entire body and cause damage to any organ or bodily system, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels and skin.

Here is breakdown of the most common type of arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation:

  • Osteoarthritis: This is a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage that covers the ends of bones in the joint deteriorates, leading to pain and loss of movement because bone begins to rub against bone. (This is the most common form of arthritis in the United States).

  • Rheumatoid arthritis: This is an autoimmune disease in which the joint lining becomes inflamed due to the body's immune system activity. (This is one of the most debilitating types and appears most often in women.)

  • Gout: This painful condition is often due to a defect in body chemistry that affects small joints, particularly the big toe. (Gout occurs most often in men.)

  • Fibromyalgia: This condition involves widespread pain that affects the muscles and attachments to the bone. It is more common in women.

Treating Arthritis: What are the Options?

There is currently no "cure" for arthritis, but there are many ways to manage the condition and still lead an active life. To treat the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, pain-relievers (both over-the-counter and prescription) and anti-inflammatory drugs are often prescribed. As a last resort, doctors may also recommend joint surgery to repair damaged joints or replace them.

However, there are many natural methods to lessen the pain and other symptoms of arthritis, and to protect your body from damage.

While people with arthritis should rest their joints if they feel fatigued, too much rest can actually worsen the condition. A regular exercise program is highly recommended for anyone with arthritis, not only to help you maintain a healthy weight (a must to protect your joints) but also to benefit your joints directly. Your exercise routine should include:

  • Range-of-motion exercises: Yoga, stretching and dance can help increase flexibility, relieve stiffness and maintain normal joint movement.

  • Aerobic and endurance exercises: Walking, bike riding or using an elliptical machine can reduce inflammation in your joints and help control your weight.

  • Strengthening exercises: Strength traininghelps to keep your muscles strong, which will support and protect your joints.

Eating a healthy diet is also incredibly important to maintain your weight and benefit your overall health. Focusing on getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are naturally anti-inflammatory, may also help.

Beyond exercise and eating right, the following natural methods can help to relieve the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis:

  • Use hot or cold packs. Heat relaxes muscles, cold reduces inflammation and swelling.

  • Use supplements that help joints repair, stay lubricated, resist inflammation and enhance free movement and function.

  • Get regular massages.

  • Try relaxation techniques like meditation, prayer, guided imagery and relaxation CDs.

  • Consider alternative treatments. Biofeedback can help you to become more aware of your body's reaction to pain, and may help you learn how to control the reactions. Acupuncture, which involves inserting small needles into specific points on your body, can also help to relieve pain.

Finally, if you have arthritis pay attention to your body. If you feel fatigued, don't push yourself; and be careful not to strain your joints (such as to open a jar). Do things that will make your life easier (like using a jar opener or having someone open the jar for you) and whenever possible use your large muscles and large joints to perform daily tasks.

Above all else, remember that arthritis is a condition that you can manage. Staying optimistic and positive about the future will ensure that you stay in control of the condition and, studies have found, will help you experience less pain and make fewer visits to the doctor.


U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Arthritis Foundation

Dr. Bastomski's Comments

Besides the good advice the article has, a few other words of wisdom are in order.  Arthritis by definition is an inflammatory condition.  One of the most common causes of an inflammatory situation is eating an inflammatory diet otherwise known as the standard American diet or the SAD diet. Sad indeed because anywhere where fast food, sugar and chemical laced packaged food are imported to, those countries people suffer a significant rise in chronic conditions of all kinds including arthritis.  

If you have arthritis, from a diagnostic perspective the question is what are the root cause issues?  If for example you had a whiplash injury and you're left with neck pain years later at least we have a known trauma to account for why the neck is having pain issues.  What about the case of folks who have neck, back, shoulder, knee etc. pain with no significant trauma to account for setting it off?  In particular, I look at the situation of a patient having multiple joints / regions involved being a big clue that the situation is being caused by a systemic metabolic issue.   Even the neck pain situation described above remaining from an old whiplash injury, can have as one of it's significant underlying driving factors of why it is not healing, to be an inflammatory diet and lifestyle. 

There are multiple ways of trying to get at the root cause issues involved.  Most chronic conditions are caused by multifactorial reasons.  For example one's diet, the intake of food sensitivities, a disruption of one’s gut microbiome with resulting leaky gut causing an inflammatory state and the potential release into one's systemic circulation problematic microbes,- some of which rather enjoy hanging out in the environment that joints provide.   So, a two to three week detox type of diet where one eats only whole non packaged foods, and avoids foods that frequently cause issues - the top three being sugar, gluten and dairy - is an inexpensive way to do a good test to see if one's diet may be a significant source of their chronic inflammation.  If after this trial diet your joints are feeling better, then with a bit more experimentation, you can figure out how much you can deviate before triggering your pain again.  The only problem being that often a reaction to a food that one is sensitive to, does not make itself known immediately after eating it but rather can slowly show itself over the next two or three days.  Google modified allergy elimination diet for more information on this topic.  

If you do a two-to-three-week detox diet and no change in pain is noted, then a more sophisticated amount of detective work may be in order.  I would start with a good blood lab test that looks at the basics like checking on your blood lipids, liver, kidneys, blood cells, and sugar levels and to these tests add additional tests that are not necessarily routinely done to include more tests on sugar stability as 40-50% of our population are sensitive to sugar, blood iron, vitamin D, a closer look at the thyroid and a look at a number of generalized inflammatory markers like hsCRP and homocysteine.   Additional tests if indicated would include those that look at your gut microbiome makeup, a urine test that give feedback as to your vitamin, mineral, essential fatty acids and other metabolic factors and yet other blood tests that can assist in identifying your food sensitivities, toxic chemicals or metal or mold status and list can go on from there.   Point being that if you correct enough of the underlying factors that are causing you to be in a state of chronic inflammation then your body should then be able to go about its innate ability of repairing itself.

For those looking for relief without the desire to correct any underlying imbalances then it is well known that fish oil in sufficient quantity as in 2-4 grams per day of EPA/DHA and/or Turmeric (Curcumin) in a dose of standardized turmeric powder 400-600 mg three times per day can be helpful for joint pain.  



Please Note: Above comment statements are not written by Health Realizations, Inc. nor the opinion of

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