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Osteoarthritis: Falling apart at the seams

| December 15, 2010 8:00 PM

Arthritis is one of many degenerative diseases today that are increasing at alarming rates. We are literally falling apart at the seams.

Osteoarthritis (OA), affects approximately 27 million Americans. It is caused by the breakdown of the cartilage between the ends of bones, which normally cushions them and allows for freedom and fluidity of movement. When this cushion breaks down, bone on bone rubs together and creates inflammation and pain.

It generally starts as stiffness in the joints, especially in the fingers and the knees. Whereas we used to think it was limited to the joint cushions, we now know it can affect the entire joint - bone, ligaments, membranes, nerves, cells and other tissues. It may not actually be a problem of wear and tear. We now know it is a complexity of factors, such as environmental toxins, inadequate nutrition, food factors, mechanical misalignment, being overweight, loss of supportive structures and more.

Food factors is a complex problem within itself. Certain foods are known to break down cartilage or otherwise cause malnutrition. Even vitamins can cause joint damage. One of those is Vitamin C. Although Vitamin C is essential for cartilage formation, ascorbic acid, frequently sold as "Vitamin C," could actually increase joint damage. This is because Vitamin C, everywhere found in nature, is a complex that consists of other vital factors, not simply the ascorbic acid fraction. These other factors include ascorbinogins, copper, Tyrosinase, bioflavonoid complexes, and other factors that support oxygen transport in the blood, cell permeability and tissue strength. When these factors are missing, the body will strip them out of available tissue to complement the ascorbic acid so that it can work somewhat like its whole food/whole complex counterpart. This can result in joint deterioration. Vitamin C as found in foods or herbs such as acerola cherries, green peppers, rose hips, etc. are excellent whole food forms of Vitamin C.

Paul Dieppe, MD, University of Bristol, England, said "We've learned, that OA, rather than a passive 'falling to bits' of the joints, is an active form of joint disease that seems to stem from an out-of-kilter degradation and repair response of the matrix." It's "thought to be a mechanically driven, but chemically mediated, process that seems to be dominated by an attempt by joints to repair damage or abnormal biomechanics." In other words, there is damage to the joint and the body is trying to repair itself. Inflammation is a normal part of that repair process and that action causes pain. The problem arises when the body does not have the nutritional resources available to repair tissue, or insufficient immune reserves to help.

Acupuncture and nutrition are excellent options for supporting the body in repairing the damage to joints. It helps with swelling, inflammation and pain as it is supporting immune and repair functions. Stop falling apart at the seams and get some help today!

Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with over 30 years of experience. For more information visit, www.vitalhealthandfitness.com or call (208) 765-1994.

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