You often hear people complaining about the cold making their fingers stiff, or others having difficulty with their knees from manual labour jobs. This isn’t surprising. Arthritis is incredibly common with up to 3.85 million Australians suffering some form of the condition. While some people will experience only mild pain on occasion, it can also be so debilitating that sufferers have trouble walking and performing everyday activities.
There are three main types of arthritis:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
This is an autoimmune disease whereby the body’s own immune system attacks healthy tissue — namely, the joints — triggering inflammation, swelling and pain. Over time, this inflammation permanently damages the joints. It’s not known what causes this type of arthritis, but it’s more common among those who smoke and people with a family history of arthritis.
Rather than the body attacking itself, this type of arthritis is a result of the joints rubbing against each other and wearing down. It most often occurs in people aged over 40 and those who have had joint damage or repetitive work duties, such as squatting down.
This is caused by raised levels of uric acid in the blood and the liver’s inability to flush it out quick enough. As a result, crystals form around the joints, causing recurrent attacks of pain and swelling. Lifestyle factors are a major cause, including being overweight, having high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
While people tend to think medication is the one and only way to help alleviate symptoms, this isn’t the case. Kinesiology can also help in several ways:
- Balancing and realigning the muscles and joints
- Reducing inflammation
- Easing muscle tension
- Increasing mobility
- Improving immune function
- Improving circulation
- Assisting with a healthy lifestyle overhaul (e.g., diet and exercise)
- Helping people deal with the emotional stressors associated with arthritis.
Nicolie O’Neill, founder of O’Neill Kinesiology College, was one of these success stories. She suffered from arthritis for years with little relief.
“I got osteoarthritis in my hip when I was 33. I went to a chiropractor for 13 years and also saw a doctor for painkillers and anti-inflammatories. They told me I would have to have an operation,” she said. “At 46 I finally had reactive muscle balancing with Kinesiology. I only had two sessions, and I haven’t had that pain ever again.”
Other complementary therapies have also been shown to have success with arthritis. For rheumatoid arthritis, there is plenty of strong evidence behind fish oil. For osteoarthritis, there is evidence that ginger, rosehip, pine bark extract, acupuncture, and massage can be effective.
While there isn’t a diet that can ‘cure’ arthritis, what you eat has an enormous effect on arthritic symptoms. A so-called anti-inflammatory diet typically follows the Mediterranean diet with plenty of fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables, olive oil and limited red meat.
Along with diet, exercise can make a big difference. Good choices of physical activity include walking, tai chi, yoga, Pilates, strength training and water-based sports like aqua aerobics. These will help with flexibility, mobility and building strong muscles to take pressure off the joints. Plus, carrying excess weight places undue stress on the joints and can exacerbate osteoarthritis symptoms.
Arthritis can be very unpleasant to live with, but there are plenty of ways to help address your symptoms. If you are only just beginning to feel the effects of arthritis, now is the time to act. Book a Kinesiology session with a Kinesiologist near you >>