Before looking at natural solutions to osteoarthritis, it’s important to understand what this condition is and how it affects us. Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative disc disease in the spine, is one of several different types of arthritis that is typically chalked up to old age. In reality, it affects all ages and both genders equally. It is not genetic, but is instead a product of body imbalance. It affects all areas of the body, but the biggest impact is on the spine. Typically the onset of body imbalance is the result of past trauma, accidents, and injuries. Mixing body imbalance with repetitive stress and gravity is what furthers the progressive process of osteoarthritis.
Before getting in to the natural solutions for degenerative disc disease, let’s also look at the conventional approaches. The condition is typically diagnosed with either x-ray or mri. These imaging tools show if the disc space has begun to deteriorate and if the bone has begun to remodel. The primary conventional treatments for this range from over the counter pain medication, prescription pain killers, physical therapy, injections, and surgery. Let’s look at each of these solutions.
Medication: Pain killers are given to relieve pain symptoms and inflammation. Basically, they manage the symptoms and to help you get through daily activities. Since the cause of body imbalance isn’t addressed, the condition typically continues to progress over time and get worse. Not to mention the harmful effects of daily NSAID use on the liver.
Therapy: Therapy is geared toward strengthening muscle groups in areas of dysfunction. This can give good therapeutic benefit, but the results are typically temporary unless the structure that the muscles attach to are also improved.
Injections (ESI): Epidural steroid injections may also be administered. Typically they come in a three pack. The results usually last a little less each time. Again the results are typically temporary because they don’t get to the cause of the degeneration in the first place, which is body imbalance.
Surgery: Sometimes if degeneration is severe enough from what imaging and case history show, a surgery may be necessary. Typically cervical (neck) and lumbar (low back) fusions are the most common areas to undergo this. The is one of the most invasive procedures the body can go through, and unfortunately the outcomes show a large percentage of people don’t get better and many times get worse than before. This approach has better results when structural or sagittal balance is restored before a surgery and maintained after.
Now don’t get me wrong, all these methods can give relief of pain, especially in acute situations. The problem occurs when acute solutions are continually given to treat long term health conditions. That’s when the problem tends to get worse.
So what are some natural solutions to osteoarthritis?
Diet: Research shows the chronic inflammation is corrosive of connective tissue. The discs are made of connective tissue, so body imbalance mixed with chronic inflammation speeds up the process of degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis. Chronic systemic inflammation is produced mainly through eating a diet full of high glycemic carbs like grains and bread, and is connected with insulin resistance and blood sugar imbalances. Eating leans meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds (paleo) will help control this tremendously.
Addressing body imbalance: The spine is 24 moveable segments that all move and function together. Where this system breaks down is where our 12-15lb head meets the 2 oz. top bone in the neck, called the atlas vertebrae. When this system breaks down and the head goes off the center of gravity, the body adapts below, promoting stress and uneven wear and tear throughout the spine. This process mixed with gravity and repetitive stress is what causes the disc degeneration and osteoarthritis to get worse. An upper cervical doctor can locate and remove the cause of imbalance with a very gentle non-invasive corrective procedure to restore head/neck alignment. This will add balance to the body and help stop the further progression of osteoarthritis. Now go get your head on straight!