Arthritis relief, what can you do?

My Fit Over 50 was so excited to host a talk recently with Dr. Shawna Dingman about arthritis, how it can affect women as we age and arthritis relief. Dr. Shawna, chiropractor and owner of Elevate Women’s Health clinic, offered us some great information  and ways to support your health, especially if you have been diagnosed with arthritis. Thank you to everyone who attended our evening presentation with all of the funds being donated to Arthritis Research Canada.

In my professional acupuncture/pilates practice I have worked with many women who were told that they were suffering from Arthritis and there was not much they could do (except maybe taking anti inflammatory drugs) as it was just an inevitable process of aging. After years of training and experience I can tell you there is always something that can be done! As Dr. Shawna noted in her conversation with us, if we take care of ourselves and seek help from practitioners, we can often reduce and sometimes eliminate arthritic joint pain for good. 


What is arthritis and how can it affect women as we age?

Arthritis is defined as an acute or chronic inflammation in the joint, according to the Mayo Clinic, and can include swelling or tenderness in one or many joints of the body.  The main symptoms that you may experience are pain, swelling, stiffness, redness and a reduced ability to move the joint well. Yes it is often a diagnosis for the elderly or aging, but arthritis in different forms can affect all ages and genders.

There are a number of factors that can lead to the diagnosis of arthritis including genetics, age, weight, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle or poor lifestyle choices. Just because you are diagnosed with it doesn’t mean you can’t do some things to help reduce the inflammation and pain associated with it.

Arthritis doesn’t have a cure, but there are many approaches to treating it depending on which type you might have. Sometimes it affects one area of the body or joint, which is often the case of osteoarthritis or it may affect multiple joints, like the condition of rheumatoid arthritis. 

What can you do for arthritis relief?

It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to a diagnosis of arthritis and pain can be a great motivator to getting help. Here is an article to help if you have hip joint pain.

Most people need some help, so talk to your health care provider (traditional or western therapist) and ask them for support. If significant damage has been done to your joints there may be very little that can be done to repair them, but that doesn’t mean you should do nothing. Even if you don’t have any joint pain right now, it is vitally important that you do the work to keep your body strong and balanced while you can. See the video below for some help!

There’s not one simple list that is perfect for every body, this is where getting support from a practitioner, such as myself, will help.  Following the list below can be helpful to anyone at any age.

Here are a few easy ways that you can support the health of your joints everyday

**What does clean whole foods mean? KEEP IT SIMPLE/KEEP IT REAL

  1. Your food should come out of the ground and not be processed or packaged in an indistinguishable form.
  2. Try to eat as organic as possible, not only to reduce your exposure to pesticides but to also gain valuable nutrients that are often lost within the soil of conventional crops.
  3. If you eat animal products, reduce the amount you eat (half a palmful at most) and get it from a locally sourced reputable farmer or butcher.
  4. If you eat fish, aim for the oily ones (wild salmon, sardines), again a little can go a long way!

The many faces of Arthritis...

According to Arthritis Research Canada, over 6 million Canadians suffer from a form of Arthritis, which can be serious and in some cases even lead to life threatening complications like a heart attack or hip fracture.

There are over 200 conditions associated with Arthritis, but I will only touch upon some of the more common ones many people face daily.

  • Osteoarthritis – a breakdown over time of joint cartilage that protects the bones causing pain, swelling or stiffness.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis – an autoimmune disease where the body attacks healthy joint tissue leading to swelling, pain and joint deformities.
  • Psoriatic Arthritis – a chronic inflammatory joint disease associated with psoriasis
  • Gout -is an accumulation of urate crystals inside your joints creating redness, swelling and intense pain.
  • Lupus erythematosus – is an autoimmune disease that can affect your joints and many types of connective tissue creating pain and swelling of the joints.

Arthritis according to Traditional Chinese Medicine

In western medicine, Arthritis is considered a degenerative condition, affecting the joints and damaging cartilage, but because no two people are the same, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners will diagnose a patient’s joint pain based upon what symptoms are occurring within the body as well as around the pain site. Sometimes herbal medicine is used in conjunction with acupuncture to treat not just the arthritis, but the whole body.

Often arthritis is seen as a blockage in the joint (of qi, blood or body fluids) by an external pathogen such as wind, cold and damp. Called bi-syndrome, this blockage can lead to swelling, redness, pain, ache, stiffness, heaviness, limitation of movement or discomfort within the joint. I know it sounds a bit strange and you don’t have to understand what it means, that’s what your TCM practitioner will do, but it’s important to get of sense of your condition so that you can support your own health. 

Arthritis relief from a TCM perspective

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About the Author
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Cindy Willems

Cindy is the owner/creator of My Fit Over 50. She is a registered acupuncturist, certified Pilates instructor, holistic nutritionist and educator. She takes a holistic approach to achieving whole body health and she believes that it is important to keep challenging the body and mind safely and efficiently as we age. Cindy also has a busy clinic called Women's Health Centre in Toronto, Ontario.