Arthritis means “joint inflammation,” and it includes 100 different diseases and conditions that affect the joints, the tissues that surround the joints, and other connective tissue. It is a common condition that affects about 50 million adults in the United States, or nearly one in every five adults. The two main types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It is characterized by degenerative joint changes and is often referred to as wear and tear. There is a layer of smooth cartilage that covers joint surfaces and a system of ligaments and connective tissue that hold the joint in proper alignment. Through repeated injury or stress on the joints, these tissues can wear out. As the cartilage wears away, bone can rub on bone, which causes pain and decrease in function. Bone spurs can also form.
Inflammatory types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. In these types of arthritis, an inappropriate response of the immune system causes the body to attack its own tissue. When the synovium, or joint lining, is targeted, the joints become inflamed and swollen. Over time, this attack can cause destruction of the joint.
While many conventional treatments approach arthritis pain as the whole problem, naturopathic physicians recognize that arthritis pain is an alarm informing us of a deeper issue. Naturopaths work with you to not only relieve pain, but to also identify and address the causes of degeneration, modulate the immune system and inflammatory response, and regenerate damaged joints.