Joint pain symptoms can be debilitating and ruin the quality of a person's life. Joint degeneration is usually a one-way trip where the destruction speeds up and gets worse exponentially the longer it has been there.
Once a joint gets damaged, it can no longer move, glide, or function correctly. The dysfunction of the injured joint compounds the problem and the articulating surfaces of the joint grind themselves apart.
The number one reason people visit a doctor's office in the United States is because of back pain. By far, back pain trumps all other joint pain in the body combined. A lifestyle of sitting too many hours a day and a general lack of movement creates a host of problems in the spine, knees, feet, and wrists. Joint pain symptoms will continue to be prevalent in society as lack of movement increases.
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Joint pain symptoms happen for many reasons. Anything from a food sensitivity to cancer can cause joint pain, so you should always play it safe and get checked out by your doctor. That being said there are generally two common reasons for pain in the joints.
The first kind is called osteoarthritis, aka degenerative joint disease (DJD.) This arthritis joint pain is mostly from wear, tear, and injuries. The second kind is autoimmune arthritis. This pain occurs because the body is attacking its own joints and supporting structures.
It's important to distinguish between the two different kinds of arthritis, or joint pain. Treatment plans will vary greatly based on the real cause of the joint destruction. With degenerative joint disease treatment will be focused on realigning, supporting, and rebuilding the joint. With autoimmune joint problems treatment will be focused on suppressing inflammation and removing inflammatory triggers.
When joints get out of alignment they no longer glide across each other correctly. This misaligment causes the articulating joints to start inflaming, irritating and rubbing holes into the smooth cartilage surfaces.
This degenerative joint disease usually starts from an injury to the supporting structures around the joint. When ligaments get damaged from a trauma, they never work right again. The elasticity of the damaged ligament never fully returns. It’s similar to if you over-stretch a rubber band, the band will remain slack and won’t hold anything tight. Your damaged ligaments act the same way. Although they can hold your joint together, they won’t hold the joint tight. This causes what I call a “sloppy joint.” The bones now move too much when you use them.
Over the years the “sloppy joint” causes the bones to slowly grind away at each other until the bones deform. This can happen anywhere an articulation of bones touch. So joint pain symptoms can affect the neck, back, hip, shoulder, elbow, hands, feet, and especially knees.
Osteoarthitis is very common and almost all patients with joint pain symptoms have some degree of it. Almost all of their arthritis comes from old injuries that are coming back to haunt them. Injured ligaments and joints never really go away or return to 100% of what they were. The body adjusts to the malfunctioning damaged joint and compensates around it but the joint still remains misaligned. These poorly moving joints or subluxations stay jammed until the body eventually responds by fusing the joints above and below the injury. I see it constantly in the office. That little fender bender 15 years ago is now creating arthritic fusion in the neck and back, for example.
An x-ray is the simplest way to assess the degree of osteoarthritis in the joint. The telltale sign a person has osteoarthritis, and not another form of arthritis, is to count how many joints are involved.
If the arthritis is asymmetrical in its distribution it is most likely caused by old injuries. In comparison autoimmune arthritis will attack multiple joints evenly.
So if a patient has arthritis in just a finger or two, it is probably osteoarthritis or DJD. If they have it in all their fingers then it is probably caused by an autoimmune issue.
As mentioned above the second most common reason for joint pain symptoms is autoimmune based joint diseases. This happens because the body attacks its own joints. There are different triggers that cause autoimmune joint destruction, but they all have out-of-control inflammation processes in common. These can be caused by genetics, food sensitivities, and environmental toxin exposure. The joint degeneration can occur quickly and can completely disable a person.
The most common of autoimmune arthritises are rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and psoriatic arthritis. For some reason the body gets confused and attacks its own joints. Some of the worst kinds of arthritis attack the structures that surround the joint, such as the synovial capsule. This causes the joint to lose support and begin to destroy itself. This usually happens rapidly and a patient can actually see the destruction of a joint on x-rays within a year.
Although DJD is more common, autoimmune arthritis is much more debilitating. Because the damage in the body is widespread, doctors can't simply do a joint replacement like they can with DJD. Conventional management is generally anti-inflammatory drugs that do not address the underlying inflammatory trigger/s. Natural management would involve finding and removing the hidden triggers and eliminating them from a patient's lifestyle and diet. Common triggers are wheat, dairy, and environmental poisons like mercury, fluoride, or radiation.
The presentation of the joint damage will be symmetrical on the x-rays or MRIs. The damage will occur across multiple joints, such as every knuckle in your hand.
There will also be persistent and chronic swelling that will be hot to the touch. The inflammation in the joints will get worse depending on the diet.
This form of joint pain and arthritis can be debilitating. Removing common inflammatory foods like wheat, dairy, and animal products will generally help alleviate symptoms. Getting a food sensitivity test and avoiding the foods that your body reacts to will also help decrease inflammation in the joints.
One of the worst variations of degenerative joint disease is the variety that can affect diabetics. When a diabetic’s blood sugar levels go unchecked for too long, it strangles the blood vessels to the feet. When they lose proper circulation to their extremities, numbness sets in and the diabetic can’t feel their feet (called diabetic neuropathy.)
When a person can’t feel their feet, they can’t balance and are more prone to falling. This cascade of problems causes injuries and fractures the diabetic patient can’t feel. These people then walk around on the broken joint without knowing it and completely destroy it. These terrible joint deformities are known as Charcot fractures.
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