According to some very frightening statistics, more than 14% (32 million) of americans suffer from of arthritis. Arthritis is an auto immune disease that mostly affects the joints. Of the 32 million suffers, 16 million have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis primarily targets the joint cartilage with its second target being the underlying bones. Approximately 6.5 million have been diagnosed with rheumatoid (rheumatism) arthritis.
Osteoarthritis typically affects the hips, knees and thumb joints in those who have crossed the mid- life line. Wear, tear and injury on our joints creates the perfect opportunity for this painful disease to move in and take over our ease of movement causing the snaps, pops and creeks we hear so often when we stand up, and the unbearable pain that accompanies this dread of aging.
The American Rheumatism Foundation tells us that rheumatoid arthritis most of targets the hips, shoulders, elbows and wrists. This form of arthritis is found less often in knees, sacrum, heels and toes. The process of this disease is to destroy the cartilage and tissue in and around the joints. In the later stages of the disease, the destroyed cartilage is replaced by scar tissue fusing the bones together. Rheumatoid arthritis, unlike Osteoarthritis, targets individuals in their 30's and 40's and of this age group, most of those suffers are women. Typical symptoms of the beginning stages of rheumatoid arthritis are: fatigue, weakness, fever (low grade), anemia and poor appetite. As with all systemic conditions rheumatoid arthritis can progress from one joint to others.
Incredibly, the Arthritis Foundation estimates that arthritis suffers in America spend in excess of 5 BILLION dollars a year to battle the pain of this relentless disease. The normal route of treatment for most suffers are prescription drugs know as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs are very costly. According to a report by Dr. Kenneth D. Brandt, from the Indiana University School of Medicine, published in the New England Journal of Medicine Osteoarthritis sufferers did just as well with over-the-counter medicines as those who treated their disease with prescription NSAIDs. which produce some serious side effects.
Not only are these medicines expensive, they have been known to produce some devastating side affects. Its estimated that each your as many as 25,000 thousand people taking NSAIDs suffer GI bleeding (bleeding of the gastrointestinal tract) as a direct result of these drugs. These drugs are often times more dangerous than helpful. In a recent study in Norway, it was reported that the drug Indocin (a very strong NSAID) was found to accelerate the destruction of the hip cartilage far faster than a group not treated with this drug.
The evidence is everywhere of the terrifying side affects of these prescription treatments. In the Journal of the American Medical Association a recent report stated that physicians in Boston and New York had become aware of patients afflicted with liver disease shortly after being prescribed Voltaren, one of the most frequently used NSAIDs to treat arthritis. It was reported that patients developed hepatitis within four-to-six weeks of taking the drug, one of these patients died within weeks of starting Voltaren.
Even though reports have shown that over-the-counter remedies can be, and are most times, just as effective towards the treatment of arthritis they too can have some dangerous side affects. These anti-inflammatory and pain relievers (analgesics) have their share of danger. Several of these remedies (aspiring, ibuprofen and acetaminophen) have the same effects as the prescribed NSAIDs, they all block the action of prostaglandin's. Prostaglandin's are the chemical messengers involved in the inflammatory process, the major result of arthritis.
Prostaglandin has more than one role, it also maintains the lining of the stomach. Each year approximately 20 milling people take large dose of these over-the-counter treatments. Of those 20 million, approximately 20% develop serious gastric ulcers. Above and beyond those startling statistics, it is estimated that 10,000 of those arthritis sufferers will die as a result of these over-the-counter treatments. If the previous affects aren't scary enough, there's more. Kidney failure is also prevalent in patients who are taking these or other treatments associated with diminished blood flow to the kidneys. (This writer has personal experience with this. My mother died on Thanksgiving day in 1998 of kidney failure associated with the long-term treatment of arthritis and degenerative joint disease with these kinds of drugs.)
If you are elderly and suffer from some form of arthritis, you most likely suffer from malnutrition as well according to Dr. George Moore, an arthritis specialist. Dr. Moore, head of six arthritis clinics in southern California, says that the majority of patients seen at his clinics suffer the affects of malnourishment. These patients exhibit deficiencies in zinc, B vitamins and vitamin C. The Journal of the Academy of Rheumatoid Diseases published a report by Dr. Robert Bingham stating that 80-90% of all arthritis cases are correctable by nutritional supplements.
There are an amazing number of natural remedies that are very beneficial in the treatment of arthritis and the pain associated with this disease. I will list the most well known natural remedies followed by links for you to research these natural wonders for yourself.
- Amino Acid
The alternative treatments listed here are only a small representation of what is available. If you or someone you care about suffers from arthritis or any other chronic illness, please research the possibilities of additional treatments in addition to your standard allopathic care. There are many patients in America who have had the pleasure of educating their physicians in the benefits of natural and alternative treatments, maybe you can join those ranks.
All statistical data has been gathered from the book Amazing Medicines The Drug Companies Don't Want You To Discover University Research Publishers, Edited by staff, 1993 copywrite; chapter 13 pg. 167-180.
Natural Treatment Of Arthritis And The Pain Associated With It by Lonnie Catlin ND(c). copyright HHS/LDC 2000