Do you ache and creek and crack? Are you stiff? Do you feel weak at times? Does it take a little bit of time to get fully mobile in the morning or after prolonged sitting? Do you think this is normal due to your age? Well, I am here to tell you it's not.
Joint pain is something I see very often in my practice. Persistent joint pain, weakness, stiffness, fatigue, and immobility is not normal and can be improved or resolved.
Potential causes of joint pain:
Osteoarthritis: inflammation or swelling around the joints and tissues surrounding the joint. The cartilage can become literally worn down from overuse. It is also known as "wear and tear."
Bursitis: inflammation of the bursa or fluid filled sac that works as a cushion and gliding surface to reduce friction of the tissues. This can be caused by overuse, infection, diabetes, thyroid disease, gout, and tendinitis. Bursa are located next to the tendons on large joints.
Autoimmune: conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are caused by the body attacking the joints. Chronic inflammation and immune dysregulation are causes of these two conditions. Inflammation and immune dysregulation can be caused by toxins, leaky gut, and stress.
Mainstream treatments for joint pain are things like corticosteroid injections and immune biologic medications. Both of these treatment modalities aim to knock down the immune system and inflammation that is present. Steroid injections rapidly decrease inflammation and immune activation at the site.
Immune biologics decrease the functioning of the immune system as a whole. This is why it is important to notify your doctor of any underlying immune dysfunction symptoms like current infections, frequent infections, diabetes, TB, fungal infection risk, liver disease, etc as these medications increase infection risk due to decreasing innate immune function.
Anti inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, motrin and naproxen reduce down stream inflammation and therefore alleviate pain for a short time. Anti inflammatory medications are harsh on your stomach lining, liver, and intestinal membrane promoting leaky gut and more immune dysfunction.
Opiod medications block the pain message by targeting opioid receptors in the brain to block the feeling of pain. They are not treating anything but the symptom, are addictive, and harsh on your liver and other organs.
What is the functional approach?
As a functional medicine practitioner my goal is to treat the cause, not simply put a band aid on the symptoms. In my practice I work through 5 pillars: diet, exercise, sleep, stress, and hormone optimization. What that looks like internally is reducing toxic exposure, finding and removing toxins (mold, heavy metals, pesticides) through optimizing detoxification, food as medicine, stress management and gut health. Through this approach we are decreasing inflammation and optimizing immune function at the cellular level for long lasting results.
Therapies like PRP (platelet rich plasma) is also a well known, natural alternative therapy for joint and tendon repair and healing. Read more about how PRP works in this article.
If you struggle from joint pain, stiffness, weakness, or fatigue schedule a wellness consult today and start living again!