Functional Solutions For Functional Conditions

Pain Management for Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is arthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid (RA) arthritis involve inflammation of the joint. OA of the knee is the most prevalent form with risk factors including being over 50 years old, being female, obesity, previous joint injury (prolonged over-use of the joint), repetitive high impact sports, and family history. RA affects nearly 1.5% of the worldwide population and women are 2-3x more likely to develop it. RA is an autoimmune-related form of arthritis where the body’s own immune system (responsible for fighting foreign invaders, bacteria, viruses) starts fighting itself – in RA, the body attacks its own joints. Arthritis causes progressive erosion of the joint space and cartilage causing inflammation, swelling, decreased functioning, and pain in the area.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis:

  • Pain worse in the day, better with rest
  • Pain with motion
  • Morning stiffness of joint (shorter periods of stiffness are associated with OA, while longer durations are associated with RA)
  • Progressive deformity of joint

Symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis:

  • Symmetrically affects joints (i.e. will affect both hands and not just one)
  • Morning stiffness for longer periods of time
  • Joint swelling and pain
  • Onset is over weeks to months
  • May also present with fatigue and lack of appetite
  • Progressive deformity of joint

The Naturopathic approach:

A functional and naturopathic perspective involves treating the underlying or root cause of disease and supporting the body’s healing while preventing further damage, discomfort, or exacerbation of disease. To treat and manage pain it is important to remove any obstacles or triggering factors that may worsen symptoms. For instance, osteoarthritis is worsened by obesity and joint injury – our naturopaths work with you to remove offending factors while supporting weight loss (thus removing any stress upon the joints). As rheumatoid arthritis has an autoimmune component, our naturopaths recommend dietary, lifestyle, and physical treatment options to help decrease pain and reduce systemic inflammation*. Acupuncture in the joints affected help to promote pain reduction, improve functioning, and decrease inflammation and swelling.

*Inflammation is a natural and normal result of the immune system doing its work. When the body has an injury, the immune system responds by creating inflammation as a way to promote healing of the site. After the area has healed the inflammation will subside on its own. In autoimmune related diseases, the body is triggered (by benign events) to create inflammation, swelling, and pain all over the body.


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