A Case of Joint Pain
By Marcel J. Hernandez, N.D.
Antonio was 50 years old when he walked into my clinic office last year. When I asked him why he had come to see me, he said that it was not so long ago that he was as loose and limber as a wet noodle. He was able to squat to weed the garden, stretch to get something off the top shelf in the kitchen and then play a few games of tennis without experiencing any difficulties. It seemed to him all of a sudden he was as stiff as a board. His ankles hurt, his knees were creaky, and his elbows and shoulders complained after a day of physical activity. He had not changed his diet or routines much in recent years and he asked me if he was just getting old. I told him that the answer wasn’t straightforward and we would have to examine the circumstances surrounding the joint pain.
Joint pain is most often described as a tenderness or discomfort when touched, swelling or inflammation of the area, a bruised feeling, or a limitation in range of motion. Each one of these symptoms can have several causes associated with it.
Antonio’s aches and pains could be from misuse or overuse. If the pain is isolated to one joint, injury would be a consideration.
Joint pain could be caused by arthritis, an inflammation of joints caused by the wearing down of cartilage. Bursitis, tendinitis, fibromyalgia, autoimmune disease (lupus), infectious disease (rheumatic fever, mumps, chicken pox, hepatitis) or some other undiagnosed condition could also result in joint pain. If pain is accompanied with a headache, tiredness, and a bull’s eye rash, you could be affected by Lyme’s disease. All of the causes of joint pain require specific and different therapeutic approaches, so establishing a correct diagnosis is the key to relieving pain and restoring balance. So the first step in the healing scenario is to se your favorite health care practitioner to help you find out what exactly is going on.
Your physician will be able to diagnose the problem with a physical exam, clinical history, possible X-rays, MRI, or bone scans and a urine test. A blood test would help determine if there was an infectious condition. Simple manual examination of the joint might yield useful information.
Except infections or Lyme’s Disease, joint pain is often alleviated with a few, easy naturopathic approaches.
Nutrition: Low allergy foods plus a gentle cleansing diet followed by an elimination/challenge plan may not only relieve joint pain but may also indicate which foods contribute to the pain. Your favorite health care practitioner can help you design a program right for you. Many people also benefit from a vegetarian diet as animal proteins have been found to trigger the joint pain associated with arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Nightshade family veggies (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers) are known to promote joint inflammation.
Hydrotherapy: Apply a warm compress to the affected joint for five minutes, followed by an ice-cold compress for three minutes. Repeat this three times in one session to soothe joint pain.
Massage with natural anti-inflammatory: Gently rub a homeopathic cream, like Traumeel or Inflammyar, onto the muscles directly above and below the sore joint.
Supplement Therapy: Supplements that may help joint pain are Vitamin C, bioflavonoids, calcium, Vitamin B-complex, proteolytic enzymes, glucosamine sulfate and homeopathic remedies. Again, work in concert with your health care practitioner to determine the right dosages for your specific condition.
It is important to understand that the information offered in this column is to promote understanding. You must see your physician in all causes of joint pain, especially if any of your symptoms are combined with severe headache, upset stomach, fever, or chills, or your joint is hot, red or swollen as well as painful.
Dr. Hernandez is happy to address your questions in this column. He may be contacted at HawaiiND@BigIsland.net.