Saturday, June 25, 2016

Effectively Addressing Joint Pain

Dear Readers,

Todd Humphrey, Practice Manager of Vaughan Integrative Medicine, compiled the information in this article. He used to experience significant jaw pain related to TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder). After a number of sessions with Dynamic Reintegration’s Nancy Yow, who traced the pain to his left hip joint, he no longer suffers from jaw pain. The body is a stack of joints; if one joint is out of alignment you may experience pain anywhere above that joint as a result.

- Dr. Vaughan

Discomfort and pain in the joints is extremely common. Caused by injury or disease, joint pain – also referred to as arthralgia – is experienced as mildly uncomfortable to extremely painful. Conditions that lead to join pain include gout, infection (including some sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and gonorreha), strains, sprains, and other injuries. Another leading cause of joint pain is inflammation which can lead to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and bursitis.

The adult human body consists of 206 bones. Joints are the areas where these bones come in contact with one another and include cartilage, ligaments, bursae, and tendons. Injury or inflammation to any of these parts can result in pain. Symptoms and signs associated with joint pain can include:

  • joint redness
  • joint swelling
  • joint tenderness
  • joint warmth
  • limping
  • locking of the joint
  • loss of range of motion of the joint
  • stiffness
  • weakness.
Joints in body parts that contain include multiple bones and joints that are more active or bear body weight are more likely to experience discomfort and pain. Each foot contains 26 bones that provide structural support for the entire body. Each hand contains 27 distinct bones; the hands and wrists provide the body with flexibility and support to manipulate objects in different ways. The knee joint and the hip joint are the two strongest weight-bearing joints in the body. These joints account for the majority, but not all, locations of chronic joint pain.

Although joint pain can be common, in the most severe cases it is debilitating and interferes with daily living. Making the right choices can help reduce the risk of and effects from joint pain. Here are some suggestions to consider that will help maintain alignment and reduce straining the joints:

  • wear shoes with proper arch support
  • wear sneakers if you’ll be walking a lot
  • reduce the amount of time spent texting
  • hold your cell phone up instead of hunching over to read the screen
  • empty back pockets before sitting
  • take stretch breaks from computer use and game stations
  • be mindful of your posture when seated; don’t slouch or assume contorted positions on the sofa
  • learn to lift without straining your wrists
  • choose rolling laptop cases and rolling luggage (even for airplane carry-on items)
  • sleep on your back or on your side
  • lift heavy objects by bending the knees and the hips
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • incorporate yoga into your exercise routine to keep the body limber.
A primary contributor to joint pain is inflammation. While there are many anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications available, they target the symptom and don’t deal with the underlying cause of the inflammation. These pharmaceuticals and medications can sometimes add stress on the body by overtaxing the liver; by addressing the root cause of inflammation it’s possible to keep the entire body healthier. Each person’s physiology is different. To address the root cause, an elimination diet works as an empirical trial that can help identify foods that cause or increase inflammation.

Elimination Diet

An elimination diet requires that for two weeks, someone stop consuming a particular food group completely. For example, to identify sensitivity to dairy foods someone would eliminate all dairy for their diet for two weeks. Dairy elimination would include milk, all cheeses, yogurt, ice cream, coffee creamer, whey protein supplements – everything that is derived from milk. (Although eggs are often included as dairy on food pyramid charts, they are safe when eliminating dairy from the diet.) On the day after the two week elimination of dairy, consume one or more healthy servings of dairy foods. For the next thirty-six hours avoid dairy. All during the elimination phase of this empirical trial, someone should keep a daily journal about physical symptoms, moods – including irritability and lethargy, and any noticeable bloating, gas, and inflammation. When reintroducing dairy, continue to journal noticing if there are any significant physical changes for the next thirty-six hours. Here are some symptoms to watch for:
  • insomnia
  • fatigue
  • new or increased joint pain and/or inflammation
  • skin breakouts or rashes
  • headaches
  • bowel changes or GI pain
  • bloating
  • brain fog
  • sinus or other respiratory issues
  • excessive mucus in the throat.
If any of these symptoms occur, there’s a good chance that dairy is causing or contributing inflammation in the body and therefore increasing joint pain. The elimination diet empirical trial can be done for any food or food group. Most commonly, people do the elimination diet to check for symptoms related to diary, corn, wheat, and sugar. After eating any meal if someone experiences significant joint pain, doing an elimination diet on the foods in that meal would help them better understand what their trigger foods are and help them know what to avoid to keep from experiencing discomfort. For example, if after eating lasagna someone has stiff joints, a headache, and feels bloated, testing wheat (lasagna noodles), dairy (ricotta and mozzarella cheeses), and tomatoes would be appropriate.