A-Z of treatments and self-help for arthritis

It is important to bear in mind there is no one supplement or treatment that will cure you of arthritis, it takes a collection of things, time and dedication.

The 3 point strategy (number one is paramount)

1) change your diet dramatically (tinkering with it will not be enough)

2) consider having treatments to synergistically enhance your nutritional therapy

3) learn as many self-help techniques as you can

When you decide which treatment you are going to have – phone the practitioner and ask them some questions about how they work, their experience and do they specialize in a particular condition. Give the treatment a chance – and only try one practitioner at a time. For instance if you have acupuncture and at the same time have osteopathy who knows which one is working best for you. However the self-help techniques and nutrition should be done at the same time as your treatment choice.

An A-Z of the treatments and self-help strategies you could choose from to help your arthritis condition –

ACUPUNCTURE used for thousands of years to treat a number of conditions. The World Health Organization WHO, have stated that acupuncture is very effective at treating a number of conditions, especially painful conditions. It is the ancient art of using extremely thin needles, in fact minute compared to the needles used for injections. The difference is, it’s a metal tube that needs to deliver a liquid like a vaccine and remove blood for testing.

The principle of acupuncture – meridians (energy lines) run down the entire body connecting acupuncture points, hundreds of them. After tongue analysis, pulses diagnosis and a case study the acupuncturist uses his skills by selecting a number a points were the needles are inserted, 99% of the time painlessly. How it works is not 100% clear but it works. The energy lines are unblocked so there is free flow of chi (life force), or the strategic placing of the needles in a particular acupuncture point stimulates the nervous system that then relay messages to the brain. The brain then sends signal back to a particular the part of the body.

Besides treating pain, acupuncture is affective in the treatment of a number of conditions.We use this treatment extensively at the clinic.

BOWEN TECHNIQUE Has the ability to re-align and balance the body, the treatment consists of a series of gentle moves on skin or through light clothing, with the client usually lying on a treatment couch, although it is possible to be treated seated. It can result in a deep sense of relaxation, allowing the body to recharge and balance itself, helping to reduce inflammation and pain. It can be used on newborns to the elderly, being described as a gentle technique.

It is not massage, it is not acupressure, and it is not chiropractic. No manipulation, no adjustments, and no force are used. The practitioner uses fingers and thumbs to gently move muscles and tissue. In between treating each set of muscles, the practitioner leaves the room. NO I have not experienced this treatment first hand.

CHIROPRACTIC is an extremely popular and well known practice in the USA, used in other countries too, but to a less extent where Osteopaths are more prevalent. Chiropractic is a health-care system that specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of conditions particularly affecting the spine. Treatments consist of a wide range of manipulative techniques designed to improve the function of the joints, relieving pain and spasm.

DRUG THERAPY The types of pharmaceutical medication you might be prescribed does depend on your on your condition, the severity of the pain and your doctor and what you decide to take from the number of over-the-counter medications available. This can range from NSAIDs non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, to steroids or immuno-suppressant drugs. NO I have not experienced this treatment first hand.

ESSENTIAL OILS are used in aromatherapy – extremely big in Europe. The practice of using aromatic oils dates back centuries and was used in most civilizations around the world.

The essential oils are so concentrated that only a few drops are needed and diluted into a carrier oils or water or lotion or cream or liniment etc. There are so many different oils that can treat a number of conditions successfully.

Essential oils work on two levels the active plant compound absorbs though the skin and into the blood stream within 30 minutes affecting every part of the body. The other way is through their wonderful aromas, that stimulate the olfactory sensors in the nose – a direct line to the brain, affecting both the physical and emotional. There are oils for inflammation and pain.

The treatment with an aroma-therapist involves a case study so they can decide with oil they will blend into your massage oil. Then you will receive a relaxing massage that in its self will help to ease aches, pains and stiffness, all the while the oils start to take effect. You will be advised not to shower until the next morning, as the oils continue to be absorbed after the massage. We use this therapy extensively at the clinic.

FELDENKRAIS METHOD “Movement is life. Life is a process. Improve the quality of the process and you improve the quality of life itself” — Moshe Feldenkrais.

The Feldenkrais Method is recognised for its demonstrated ability to improve posture, flexibility, coordination, self-image and to alleviate muscular tension and pain. The effectiveness of the Feldenkrais Method is in its ability to access the nervous system’s own innate processes to change and refine functioning.

Feldenkrais is based on principles of physics, biomechanics and a complete understanding of human development. As a form of somatic education, the Feldenkrais Method uses gentle movement and directed attention to improve movement and enhance human functioning. This allows increased ease and range of motion, improved flexibility and coordination, and a re-discovery of efficient, graceful movement.

“Functional Integration” movements are tailored to each person’s individual learning needs. The person remains fully clothed, usually lying on a table or sitting or standing in certain positions which are sometimes supported by various props such as pillows, rollers or blankets. This hands-on form of kinesthetic communication conveys the experience of comfort, pleasure and ease of movement as the person learns how to reorganize their body and behavior in new and more expanded functional motor patterns.

NO I have not experienced this form of treatment.

GOOD NUTRITION IS THE FOUNDATION to your recovery – then if you want add treatments and learn self-help techniques. It’s a 1-2-3 program to change your condition.

You can find on Amazon a book called END THE FOOD CONFUSION by Sonia Jones ND it will give you a good overview.

HERBALISM This is a treatment where the practitioner uses medicinal plants. Medicinally, an herb is any plant part or plant used for its therapeutic value. There is European herbalism, Ayruverdic from India and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and so many others from almost every country in the world.

Herbal medicine is the art and science of using herbs for promoting health and preventing and treating illness. It has persisted as the world’s primary form of medicine since the beginning of time, with a written history more than 5000 years old.

Currently, only about 15% of drugs are derived from plants. In contrast, herbal medicines are prepared from living or dried plants and contain hundreds to thousands of interrelated compounds. Science is beginning to demonstrate that the safety and effectiveness of herbs is often related to the synergy of its many constituents.

The primary focus of the herbalist is to treat people as individuals irrespective of the disease or condition they have and to stimulate their innate healing power through the use of such interventions as herbs, diet and lifestyle. We use this treatment extensively at the clinic.

INDIAN AYRUVERDIC Ayurveda is applicable to every living thing, as implied by its name, the science of life. Vedic sciences attribute life – the things such as air, wind, fire, the earth, planets, stars, etc. are all thought to possess conscience like living beings.

Everything that exists in the vast external universe (macrocosm), also appears in the internal cosmos of the human body (microcosm). The human body consisting of 50-100 million cells, when healthy there is harmony, self-perpetuating and self-correcting just as the universe is.

The ancient Ayurveda text, Charaka, says, “Man is the epitome of the universe. Within man, there is as much diversity as in the world outside. Similarly, the outside world is as diverse as human beings themselves.” In other words, all human beings are a living microcosm of the universe and the universe is a living macrocosm of the human beings.

Traditional Ayurvedic Medicine, (Ayurveda), the traditional medical system of India and Nepal, is the third largest herbal medicine system in the world today. Ayurvedic doctors treat more than 80 percent of the people on the Indian subcontinent and go through extensive training that can last as long as 12 years. NO I have not experienced this form of treatment first hand.

JUICE THERAPY Vegetable juices can be extremely healing, encouraging the body to detoxify. Made at home and drank immediately. Use varying mixtures – carrot, beets, pumpkin, cabbage, celery, parsley and other herbs, cucumber, fresh ginger, lemon, coriander etc.

You can add up to 25% fruits to your vegetable juice like apples, pears, papaya, pineapple, berries – black, blue or strawberries, etc should be taken liberally.

Some arthritis sufferers have a big problem with the deadly nightshade family – tomatoes, potatoes and peppers, they can prevent collagen repair, cause inflammation and pain. A radical change in your lifestyle can do wonders for your arthritis condition..

KINESEOLOGY Applied kinesiology (AK) is a form of diagnosis using muscle testing as a primary feedback mechanism to examine how a person’s body is functioning. When properly applied, the outcome of an AK diagnosis will determine the best form of therapy for the patient. Since AK draws together the core elements of many complementary therapies, it provides an interdisciplinary approach to health care. Some can tell you which foods are weakening you and which foods are not.

LOW LEVEL LASER or COLD LASER THERAPY A quick simple therapy for tissue healing, inflammation, pain relief, and wound. Known as LLLT dramatically reduces musculoskeletal pain and inflammation as well as promoting tissue repair wherever the laser beam is applied. This is not a heat treatment, the effects are photochemical. One of the primary actions is on mitochondrial production of ATP, therefore potentially affecting any eukaryotic cell in the body. LLLT has undergone over 1000 published laboratory studies and is already proven successful on randomized double blind controlled clinical trials (RCT’s). These trials include osteoarthritis, tendinitis and other sports injuries, back and neck pain, diabetic foot and venous ulcer wound healing. We use this therapy extensively at the clinic.

MASSAGE is an effective and pleasant way to manage arthritis pain. Many people have experienced varying degrees of relief from pain. Massage therapy is a proven way to improve muscle and joint movement. Massage therapies for arthritis break the cycle of so much pain allowing for better sleep, which in itself helps with pain management, allowing for less medication.

The use of massage in the treatment of arthritis continues to grow as the efficacy of the treatments is validated. The use of massage in the treatment of arthritis is being acknowledged by the medical establishment as a less invasive method of therapy for chronic conditions. The benefitsof a good massage – deep muscle and tissue relaxation, reduces stress, releases toxins, increases the flexibility of muscles, improves blood circulations, lowers blood, pressure, reduces tension and pain, improves sleep, etc. We use this treatment extensively in the clinic to good effect.

NATUROPATHY and the sort of treatment you might receive will vary from country to country and where the practitioner’s passions, expertise and interests lie. Naturopaths use clinical nutrition, supplements, herbalism, maybe homeopathy and some use reflexology or joint manipulation or some other form of physical treatment. Naturopaths take a look at the fundamentals, what is weakening your foundations, what is causing your pain and inflammation – looking at the very things that are sustaining you or not as the case maybe. Then using many different tools available to them, to help you and most importantly educating you to look after yourself. Empowering you to manage your condition and in some cases people have actually managed to resolve their condition, with much perseverance.

OSTEOPATHY recognizes the importance of the link between the structure of the human body and the way it functions. Osteopaths focus on the body’s skeleton and joint function along with the underlying muscles, soft tissue and internal organs.

Osteopaths consider each person as an individual. Utilizing a highly developed sense of touch, they identify problem areas of the body. Using gentle stretching and mobilization techniques as well as manipulating joints, an osteopath works with the body to create the perfect conditions to facilitate the healing process.
Treatment usually consists of a combination of soft-tissue releasing techniques, and some specific adjustments affecting joints and soft-tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments). Advice is also given on self-help treatments.

Osteopaths usually start any treatment by releasing and relaxing muscles and stretching stiff joints, using gentle massage techniques, rhythmic joint movements and muscle release techniques. The osteopath may also carry out manipulation using short, quick movements to spinal joints. Osteopathy is a personal favorite of mine, a good comprehensive treatment.

PRESSURE THERAPY is acu-pressure, an ancient healing art that exerts pressure by the fingers to press certain points on the surface of the skin to stimulate the body’s natural self-healing abilities. When these pressure points are pressed, they release muscular tension and promote the circulation of blood and the body’s life force to aid healing. Acupressure uses some of the points that acupuncture employs.

Acupressure is an effective method for self-treatment. It is very safe to do on yourself and others, even if you’ve never done it before, so long as you follow the instructions and pay attention to the cautions.

A long with lifestyle and diet changes acupressure can be effective in helping relieve headaches, eyestrain, sinus problems, neck pain, backaches, arthritis, muscle aches, tension due to stress, menstrual cramps, lower back aches, constipation, and indigestion. There are numerous books on the market that explain the technique, location of the points and what each one relates to. There may even be DVDs.

QIGONG is an ancient Chinese health care system that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention.Qi pronounced chee means the life force. Gong pronounced gung means accomplishment.

Qigong practices can be classified as martial, medical, or spiritual. All styles have three things in common: they all involve correct posture whether moving or stationary, breathing techniques, and mental focus. Some practices increase the Qi, others circulate it, using it to cleanse and heal the body, and store it.

The gentle, rhythmic movements of Qigong reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality, and enhance the immune system. It has also been found to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive functions. It also creates a balanced life style, which brings greater harmony, stability, and enjoyment. Go to classes or get a DVD. NO I have not experienced this practice.

REFLEXOLOGY is considered a truly whole body therapy applied through the feet, the principles of the treatment work with the reflex areas in the feet and hands that correspond to all of the body’s tissue, glands, organs, in fact every part of the body, plus the mind and soul. It is a method of activating a healing response within the body. Stimulating these reflex areas correctly can help many health problems in a truly natural holistic way. A similar principle and action to acupuncture but without the needless.

Reflexology in skilled hands is not just a foot massage it is a serious therapy in the health field helping many conditions. The wonderful thing about reflexology is it can be learned by anyone and be given to anyone from babies to the elderly, with no need for any special equipment. Just using the hands, making it a very safe and simple but extremely effective therapy, that can be done anywhere and anytime.

Our body is constantly trying to achieve homeostasis, a Greek word for balance. Medical text books devote many pages to explaining how the body achieves this. Every second of the day hormones and chemicals are produced to either speed things up or slow things down. When we get cold the body shivers in an attempt to keep us warm, when the body gets hot we sweat to cool down. Certain foods and drinks elevate our blood sugar levels too high, the body responds by producing the hormone insulin to bring blood sugar levels down again. Then there are hormones that break down calcium in our bones and others that rebuild it again. Of course this is a mere fraction that goes on every slip second of every day. Reflexology stimulates responses in the body that help the body in its quest for homeostasis, this intricate balancing act.

The feet and hands contain thousands of nerve endings, stimulation of these sensory nerve endings send messages up the spinal cord to the brain. The brain then reads these impulses as potential problems in the corresponding part of the body which is related to that part of the hand or foot known as reflex zones. This is a very similar principle to acupuncture. The body then decides for itself whether a part needs stimulating or calming down. Reflexology actives the body’s own healing power. Classes are held at our clinic.

If you want to learn reflexology for home use – available on Amazon from the beginning of October 2009 a book called SIMPLY REFLEXOLOGY by Sonia Jones ND. This book makes it simple to learn.

SHIATSU is both a form of physical manipulation and a means towards the growth of body, mind and spirit, combining a finely tuned intuition, understanding of oriental diagnosis, posture and breathing. The unique quality of Shiatsu is that it emphasizes efficient bodily movement and perception from one’s true physical and spiritual center.

Shiatsu technique involves stretching, leverage and leaning your weight into various parts of the recipient’s body to encourage greater harmony of energy, circulation, flexibility and postural integrity. Many of the techniques are applied to the same system of energy channels or ‘meridians’ as used in acupuncture, although in Shiatsu each channel is felt to cover a greater area of the body. NO I have not experienced this treatment first hand.

TENS MACHINE or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation offers an excellent alternative to pain-killing drugs. It is a non-invasive, drug-free method of pain relief. It is ideal for the management of arthritis pain. Pads are placed on or near the area of pain. TENS uses soothing pulses that are sent via the pads through the skin and along the nerve fibers. The pulses (controlled by the user at all times) suppress pain signals to the brain. TENS also encourages the body to produce higher levels of its own natural pain killing chemicals called Endorphins.

ULTRA SOUND therapy has been known to benefit individuals suffering from arthritis. Ultrasound therapy uses high-energy sound waves (those above the range we hear) to help ease painful joints and muscles. Ultrasound treatment is done by a practitioner who guides the waves into the body from the head of the ultrasound machine. Results of using this method for arthritis pain relief will vary. Ultrasound waves are transmitted via a gel the conducting agent. Muscle tissue and ligaments are very receptive to this form of energy. We use this form a treatment at the clinic.

VITAMIN AND MINERAL THERAPY Undoubtedly help as there are natural supplements that reduce inflammation, reduce stress and pain, help repair, encourage detoxification and a whole host of other things too many to mention here. A long with a therapeutic diet, supplements are a powerful therapy, but over doing it is not the answer. Used in our clinic to enhance other therapies. We believe in prescribing the minimum to bring about change and using diet to the maximum.

WATER THERAPY or hydro- and hydrothermal therapy are traditional methods of treatment that have been used for centuries to treat disease and injury by many cultures, including those of ancient Rome, China, Japan and ancient Greeks. Water is an important ingredient in the traditional Chinese and Native American healing systems.

A Bavarian monk, Father Sebastian Kneipp helped to make the therapeutic use of water in the 19th century popular again. Hydrotherapy includes baths, saunas, douches, wraps, and packs.

If you are suffering from Arthritis, rheumatism, sciatica, aching joints, back pain, fatigue, insomnia, circulation, stress, muscular pain, stiffness, cramps or tension, hydrotherapy might help you. Having a bath tub or Jacuzzi or a bowl for a foot bath means you have access to hydrotherapy.

X-RATED Be aware of adverts that say this or that product that will cure arthritis. I wish life was that easy, it takes more than one thing to help manage or reduce or even reverse pain and inflammation. It certainly can be done but you need to do several things over time they will work in synergy to enhance your quest for a better quality of life and for some even cure their condition.

YOGA actually began more than 3,000 years ago in India. The word yoga is Sanskrit (one of the ancient languages of the East). It means to “yoke,” or unite, the mind, body, and spirit.

Yoga includes physical movement, and certain lifestyle practices. Training your mind, body, and breath correctly is fundamental. The physical part of the yoga lifestyle is called hatha yoga. Hatha yoga focuses on poses. A person who practices yoga goes through a series of specific poses while controlling his or her breathing. Some types of yoga also involve meditation and chanting. It can improve flexibility, strength, balance, and stamina. In addition, many people who practice yoga say that it reduces anxiety and stress, improves mental clarity, and even helps them sleep better. Classes and DVDs are available in your area I am sure.

ZERO TOLERANCE Every possible chemical should be removed from your diet, cleaning products, air fresheners, filter water, avoid products in plastic containers ESPECIALLY any fatty food for instance olive oil or peanut butter etc. Buy harmful-chemical-free personal care products certainly easier to find these day, buy eco-friendly laundry cleaning products. Look at every aspect of your life and see where you can remove chemicals, of course it will be impossible to avoid every single chemical in our world, but you can eliminate ALL the chemicals you possibly can.

The more you do the better you will manage your condition and even reverse the some of the symptoms.

Remember a three point strategy -

1) Change your diet drastically

2) Get some treatment

3) Learn as much self-help as possible