Integrative medicine practitioners can help people with symptoms from osteoarthritis.
What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, decreased mobility and decreased function of certain joints. Patients may find it hard to move around, or some joints may not have as wide a range of motion as they did before. What may start out as simple aches and pains can cause a severe limitation in someone’s mobility over time.
These symptoms may occur when the cartilage in between bones starts to break down and weaken over a long period of time. Cartilage is a soft connective tissue in between bones that is almost like a liquid. This soft tissue cushions the contact between bones so bones don’t grind together when they move. When this cartilage breaks down, it causes pain to develop.
In general, osteoarthritis affects the elderly after the cartilage in between bones begins to weaken. When there is less and less cartilage, the pain worsens over time.
What does integrative medicine recommend for someone with osteoarthritis?
Integrative medicine looks to heal patients in ways that are best for them. A treatment regimen may go beyond medical procedures or medications prescribed by a doctor when it comes to osteoarthritis.
Standard therapies for osteoarthritis include exercise that strengthens muscles around the joints affected by osteoarthritis. Light walking may help a patient’s knees, while yoga may help the back and wrists. A doctor may prescribe strength training as a way to improve mobility in the neck, shoulders, back and arms.
Workouts in a swimming pool can lessen the pain associated with osteoarthritis since the water of the pool makes the human body buoyant. In other words, the muscles and joints don’t feel the effects of gravity as much when they’re in the pool. This makes movement easier on the joints.
All of these exercises should occur under the close supervision of someone experienced in physical therapy. Medical professionals with expertise in osteoarthritis can show patients how to move without hurting the muscles.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications also come into play for osteoarthritis. A doctor may suggest acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as a way to alleviate the pain. These common pain relievers go by the names Tylenol, Advil, Alleve and more. One downside to taking pain relievers is that they may cause stomach pain. Pain relievers are part standard medical practice.
Physical therapists can analyze someone’s posture and try to correct it as a way to alleviate the pressure and weight people place on certain joints. Putting less pressure on joints could reduce the pain associated with osteoarthritis, and it could put put muscles and bones in proper alignment. A physical therapist can also recommend braces, orthotic devices and posture-strengthening furniture to help strengthen muscles, bones and joints. Physical therapists are a vital part of someone’s care team beyond a primary care doctor when it comes to osteoarthritis.
An elimination diet give people a chance to see what foods exacerbate osteoarthritis. Patients can spend two or three weeks gradually taking away one food from their diet and then adding it back in. Keeping a journal as to how the body reacts to these foods is vital to the success of an elimination diet.
People should try eating foods that are anti-inflammatory or promote overall wellness. Integrative medicine expert Dr. Andrew Weil believes eating foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, may reduce tissue damage associated with osteoarthritis. Fatty fish or nuts, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, may help reduce inflammation around the joints. That means eating salmon, walnuts or flaxseeds.
A registered dietitian or nutritionist is a good bet for following dietary guidelines for osteoarthritis. A dietitian shows people what foods are good in terms of reducing inflammation in the body and around the joints.
Integrative medicine recognizes that nutritional supplements may help alleviate symptoms of osteoarthritis. Weil suggests people eat ginger or turmeric for their anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger and turmeric are spices that people can buy fresh, ground or in a supplement form.
Other supplements that could help osteoarthritis include glucosamine, niacinamide and vitamin E. Glucosamine has been the subject of numerous medical studies, and medical science believes 1,500 to 2,000 milligrams per day can bring about pain relief and a reduction in the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B-3, may help improve joint mobility with around 500 milligrams per day. Vitamin E might help reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis.
With integrative medicine, patients have a choice to embark on a healing regimen that works for them. If an individual discovers that a combination of diet, supplements and pain relievers work best for osteoarthritis, then that person should stick with those treatment methods. A doctor and a healing team are there to help patients overcome the limitations of this degenerative disease.
Thompson, Dennis, Jr. “13 Natural Treatments for Osteoarthritis.” Medically reviewed by Dr.
Meeta Shah, MD. Everyday Health, March 16, 2016. Accessed April 26, 2017.
Integrative Medicine at Crossroads. “Osteoarthritis/Degenerative Joint Disease.” Accessed April
26, 2017. http://www.integrativemedcrossroads.com/education/osteoarthritis.php
Weil, Andrew, MD. “Osteoarthritis.” Accessed April 26, 2017.