Arthritis is that all too familiar, uncomfortable pain that sits in our joints. It can immobilize us, and at other times, make us feel older than we are. Arthritis affects the young, the old, and everybody in between. And while there are populations that are more prone to the disorder, all of its sufferers experience pain that ranges from mild discomfort to excruciatingly life limiting.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of conditions that affect joint health. Though different people experience different symptoms, the most common include limited range of motion, pain, swelling, and stiffness. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, you may also experience changes in skin color, fluctuations in temperature, and an increased susceptibility to other illnesses.

Types of Arthritis

There are well over 50 types of arthritis that fall into four main subcategories.

Degenerative

In this form of arthritis, the cartilage that sits between joints wears down and disintegrates. Because this tissue provides cushioning between the bones, its absence causes the bones to rub against each other. As this happens, further tissue damage ensues, creating more pain and greater limitations. Osteoarthritis is an example of this type of condition.

Inflammatory

Inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for example, creates a situation in which the body’s immune system attacks its joints rather than protect them. As these attacks increase in frequency and intensity, they can cause systemic distress that is accompanied by pain, weakness, organ failure, and early mortality.

Infectious

On occasion, bacteria can enter the joints, causing inflammation and pain. Infectious arthritis, known also as septic arthritis, is both treatable and curable, provided the source of infection is addressed as quickly as possible. If left untreated, this form of arthritis can become systemic and deadly.

Metabolic

Though the presence of uric acid in the body is normal and necessary, individuals who experience unusual buildups of the substance can experience forms of metabolic arthritis. Gout, for example, causes stabbing pain within the joints as the uric acid forms into sharp, crystals. This form of arthritis often waxes and wanes, but remains chronic.

Alternative Arthritis Treatments

Standard treatments for arthritic conditions range from medication to surgery. While each person must choose the treatment method that is appropriate for them, there are alternative forms of care that are worthy of exploration

Glucosamine

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance that provides protective cushioning between the joints. As we age however, glucosamine levels deteriorate making way for a host of arthritic conditions. By taking a glucosamine hydrochloride or glucosamine sulfate supplement, the destruction of tissue slows, pain decreases, and quality of life is restored.

Tai Chi

A program entitled “Tai Chi for Arthritis” was created in the late 1990’s by Dr. Paul Lam. By the early 2010’s, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended Tai Chi to individuals with arthritis. After engaging in this ancient practice, arthritic individuals are able to improve their strength, levels of fitness, and flexibility. These improvements increase joint health and in turn, help to decrease stiffness and pain, while increasing immunity and overall functioning.

Acupuncture

Opening the blockages within one’s chi through the use of acupuncture needles activates endorphins and a cascade of immunological reactions. Not only do the needles activate anti inflammatory substances within the body, but decrease pain sensitivity, as well as increase  naturally occurring pain relievers. Acupuncture in Miami is a tried and true method of treatment that can effectively manage your arthritic pain and improve your quality of life.


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