Accurately Diagnose Joint Pain: 7 Types, Causes and Treatments

Posted: December 19, 2008 in exercise, health, Nutrition Tidbits, physical therapy, Sports Medicine, Uncategorized
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By Sylvia Anderson, AHJ Editor — Published: December 18, 2008

A majority of people will experience joint discomfort at some point in their lives, and you may be one of them. Arthritis is perhaps the most common cause of joint pain, but not the only one. Fortunately, there are many effective ways to both prevent and treat joint-related aches and pains. Keep reading to learn the difference between Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Gout, Bursitis, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Osteoporosis and how to find relief for each.

Since there can be so many different causes for joint pain, receiving an accurate diagnosis is a crucial first step when looking to address your specific pain.

Arthritis

There are many different types of arthritis, requiring different types of treatment. A few examples include:

1. Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack your body’s own joints. Why this type of arthritis strikes some individuals and not others is unknown, and a cure is non-existent at this time. However, sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis (also known as RA) have been helped by supplementing their diets with vitamin E and fish oils, as well as herbs such as turmeric and Boswellia.

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2. Osteoarthritis: This condition involves the deterioration of the cartilage that cushions your bones, causing pain as bones rub together. The dietary supplements glucosamine and chondroitin have been used to help delay or reverse the loss of cartilage. Other nutritional supplements containing herbs such as Dandelion and Goldenrod are showing promise in pain-relief as well. Exercising and maintaining a healthy weight can delay the progression of the disease.

3. Gout: Sometimes referred to as metabolic arthritis, gout results from an excess of uric acid in the body, typically caused by too much fat and protein in the diet. Therefore, dietary changes are necessary in the treatment of the disease. Reducing your intake of alcohol, especially beer, may be helpful in decreasing the frequency and intensity of attacks. Natural remedies that have shown promise include eating cherries (or drinking cherry juice), and supplementing your diet with folic acid, vitamin C and quercetin. (Tune in next week for an article about to prevent gout!)

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis: Although arthritis is generally thought of as a disease occurring primarily in older people, it can occur in children as well. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is marked by limping, swelling of the joints, and lethargy. The cause of this form of the disease is not currently known.

Other Causes of Joint Pain

4. Bursitis: Bursitis results from the inflammation of small sacs of synovial fluid, called bursae. It can be caused by 4. injury or overuse. Applying ice to the area affected by the bursitis may help ease pain. In the case of repetitive stress injuries, avoiding the movement that caused the bursitis or modifying the situation to make it more ergonomically correct can help relieve symptoms.

5. Lupus: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune illness that causes inflammation of connective tissue, particularly joints, throughout the body. Swollen joints are just one of the symptoms of this autoimmune disease. While the cause is yet unknown, some sufferers have been helped by diet modifications and getting more omega fatty acids, as well as flaxseed.

6. Fibromyalgia: Unfortunately for those who suffer from fibromyalgia, researchers and scientists are still very much in the dark regarding this complex syndrome. Joint pain and stiffness can accompany the general fatigue and chronic pain associated with this poorly understood condition. Some alternative therapies include regular, low-intensity exercise and acupuncture, as well as dietary modifications such as adopting a vegan diet. One study showed significant improvement in subjects who eliminated MSG from their diets.

7. Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a weakening of the bones that can be accompanied by joint pain where the bones connect. It is thought to be highly preventable through exercise (strength training and other weight-bearing exercises) and dietary considerations (getting enough calcium and vitamin D).

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A Word on Exercise
Exercise can help delay the onset or relieve the symptoms in arthritis sufferers who are healthy enough to engage in it. Maintaining a healthy weight is important as well, as excess weight puts extra stress on the joints.

In all cases, early diagnosis and preventive treatment options offer the best hope of minimizing joint pain and damage down the road.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!

Chris

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