OSTEOPOROSIS & ARTHRITIS
Osteoporosis, which means "porous bones," causes bones to become weak and brittle. In most cases, bones weaken when you have low levels of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals in your bones. A common result of osteoporosis is fractures - most of them in the spine, hip or wrist. Although it's often thought of as a women's disease, osteoporosis also affects many men. And aside from people who have osteoporosis, many more have low bone density.
Osteoporosis is often called the "silent" disease, because bone loss occurs without symptoms. People often don't know they have the disease until a bone breaks, frequently in a minor fall that wouldn't normally cause a fracture. Many people confuse osteoporosis with arthritis and believe they can wait for symptoms such as swelling and joint pain to occur before seeing a doctor. It should be stressed that the mechanisms that cause arthritis are entirely different from those in osteoporosis, which usually becomes quite advanced before its symptoms appear.
There are certain factors which might increase the risk of developing Osteoporosis, these are:
- Having a thin and small body frame.
- Being of the feminine gender.
- Belonging to the Caucasian or Asian race.
- Excessive alcohol and cigarette consumption
- Having a family history of Osteoporosis
- History of frequent fractures
- Lack of exercise
- Low estrogen levels
- Low doses of Vitamin D in the body
- Low diet in calcium
- Long-term use of medicines like- use of oral corticosteroids, heparin (a blood thinner medicine), anti-seizure medications.
- Malabsorption (nutrients are not properly absorbed from the gastrointestinal system) from conditions such as celiac sprue.
- Low estrogen levels (such as occur in menopause or with early surgical removal of both ovaries).
- Chemotherapy can cause early menopause due to its toxic effects on the ovaries.
- Amenorrhea (loss of the menstrual period) in young women also causes low estrogen and osteoporosis; Amenorrhea can occur in women who undergo extremely vigorous training and in women with very low body fat (example: anorexia nervosa).
- Chronic inflammation, due to diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic liver diseases).
- Immobility, such as after a stroke, or from any condition that interferes with walking.
- Hyperthyroidism, a condition wherein too much thyroid hormone is produced by the thyroid gland (as in Grave's disease) or is caused by taking too much thyroid hormone medication.
- Hyperparathyroidism, a disease wherein there is excessive parathyroid hormone production by the parathyroid gland (a small gland located near the thyroid gland). Normally, the parathyroid hormone maintains blood calcium levels by, in part, removing calcium from the bone. In untreated hyperparathyroidism, excessive parathyroid hormone causes too much calcium to be removed from the bone, which can lead to osteoporosis.
- Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. When vitamin D is lacking, the body cannot absorb adequate amounts of calcium to prevent osteoporosis. Vitamin D deficiency can result from lack of intestinal absorption of the vitamin such as occurs in celiac sprue and primary biliary cirrhosis.
- Certain medications can cause osteoporosis. These include long-term use of heparin (a blood thinner), anti-seizure medications phenytoin (Dilantin) and phenobarbital, and long term use of oral corticosteroids (such as Prednisone).
Bisphosphonates are the standard drugs used for osteoporosis. These drugs block resorption (bone break down) and so slow the rate of bone remodeling, but they cannot rebuild bone. In fact, because resorption and reformation occur naturally as a continuous process, blocking resorption may eventually also reduce bone formation.
Our Integrative Approach
The goal of osteoporosis treatment is the prevention of bone fractures by stopping bone loss and by increasing bone density and strength. While slight bone loss is a normal part of aging, other factors can speed mineral loss from the bones or impede natural bone repair and rebuilding. At the Center for Natural & Integrative Medicine, we offer unique, natural treatments for osteoporosis that not only prevent the loss of bone density, but also help to strengthen and rebuild bone. Our physicians focus on several aspects of osteoporosis—including dietary factors, exercise, nutritional supplementation, and natural hormone therapy — and outline measures you can take to strengthen your bones and avoid becoming another osteoporosis statistic.
Build Your Bones With Proper Diet
There is an established relationship between osteoporosis and diet. Your bones are a mineral bank for your entire body, storing most of the body's calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Poor diet leads to low mineral levels in the blood, and small amounts of bone are then broken down to free up these minerals and deposit them. Excess protein intake also increases the need for calcium, further draining crucial stores and contributing to bone loss.
Exercise Your Way to Stronger Bones
The single most important thing you can do to prevent or reverse osteoporosis is exercise. Stress or strain on bones stimulates the formation and growth of new bone. Regardless of age, people who engage in regular weight-bearing exercise have higher bone density. And the converse is also true - inactivity can make bones brittle.
We can instruct you in a personalized exercise program aimed at strengthening your bones, maintaining musculature, improving flexibility, and comfortably increasing your activity level.
Strengthen Bones With the Right Supplements
Our physicians have great success in preventing and treating osteoporosis using proper nutritional supplementation. Many people know that bone loss is associated with deficiencies in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. However, although bone strength begins with these nutrients, it doesn't end there. Lesser known nutrients that also play a critical role in bone health: zinc, copper, boron, manganese, silica, strontium, and vitamins C and K for starters may also be recommended. Ipriflavone, a compound, synthesized from soy, can help prevent loss of bone density and enhance bone formation, with the net result being a decrease in the incidence of fractures in osteoporotic women.
Natural Hormones Offer Extra-Strength Protection
Estrogen is widely recognized for preventing bone loss in women, but less well known are other hormones—progesterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), testosterone, and human growth hormone (HGH)—that are also intimately involved in bone remodeling. We are well-versed in the safe use of natural hormone replacement therapy to lower risk of osteoporosis, while at the same time offering protection from several other age-related conditions.
Arthritis is one of the most common of all physical complaints, affecting more than 20 percent of American adults. And for nearly 18 million of them, arthritis causes such pain and functional impairment that it limits their daily activities.
While often referred to as if it were a single disease, arthritis is actually an umbrella term used for a group of more than 100 medical conditions that collectively affect nearly 46 million adults and 300,000 children in America alone. While the most common form of arthritis -- osteoarthritis (OA) -- is most prevalent in people over 60. Arthritis in its various forms can start as early as infancy.
The common thread among these 100-plus conditions is that they all affect the musculoskeletal system and specifically the joints - where two or more bones meet. Arthritis-related joint problems include pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to joint cartilage (the tough, smooth tissue that covers the ends of the bones, enabling them to glide against one another) and surrounding structures. Such damage can lead to joint weakness, instability and visible deformities that, depending on the location of joint involvement, can interfere with the most basic daily tasks.
If you suffer with arthritis, your doctor has probably offered you little beyond pain-relieving medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin. These drugs send 100,000 people to the hospital every year, primarily for gastrointestinal bleeding, and COX-2 inhibitors are even worse. Vioxx was pulled off the market after it was linked to 160,000 heart attacks and strokes and 55,000 deaths. Celebrex (another drug in this class) is still being prescribed, but it’s also associated with serious cardiovascular side effects.
While you might get some short-term relief from NSAIDs, these drugs do have serious side effects. Acetaminophen (Tylenol), can cause serious liver or kidney damage.
There are more than 100 types of arthritis, rheumatic diseases types and conditions that are related. The following are some of the major genres of Arthritis:
Rheumatoid Arthritis - is a type of condition where the body starts attacking its own joints and soft-tissues. This type of arthritis mostly affects the joints of the hands and feet, though at times the shoulders, neck and the elbow are also prone to attack. Rheumatoid arthritis is synonymous with joint swelling.
Arthritis from wear-and-tear (Osteoarthritis) - is a combination or result of several factors playing on the body. Loosely termed as 'wear-and-tear' Arthritis, the condition often worsens with damage in the surface of the joints. Osteoarthritis, causes stiffness in the body, limiting action and resulting in pain too. This is the most common type of arthritis, to attack the knee and hip joints.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis- As the name suggests, the Juvenile rheumatoid Arthritis, or JRA, mainly affects children and adolescents. This auto-immune condition sees any of the joints of the patient affected. The knee is the most commonly affected area in this type of Arthritis.
Gouty Arthritis- is a result of the accumulation of crystals made of urate crystals inside the joints. Crystals formed by high levels of uric acid in the blood. An excess of urate crystals in the joint areas cause gouty arthritis. This type of Arthritis mostly affects joints of the big toe and the knee. Gouty Arthritis has effective treatments and is curable.
Pseudogout Arthritis - Very similar to the Gouty Arthritis, the Pseudogout is a result of excessive calcium deposits in the joints. Pseudogout is common in the knee joints.
Lupus Arthritis - Like rheumatoid Arthritis, the Lupus arthritis too is an auto-immune condition where the body's immune system itself causes damage to the joints. The Lupus Arthritis mostly affects joints in the wrists, hands, and knees.
Spondyloarthropathies - is an uncommon type of the disease, which occurs in conditions such as Reiter's syndrome, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and enteropathic arthritis. This type of Arthritis is associated with problems such as heel pain and back pain, apart from similar other conditions. This type of spondyloarthropathies is often related to the family genes.
Infectious Arthritis - Often conditions leading to infections in the joints cause inflammation leading to this type of arthritis called infectious arthritis. Other names for infectious arthritis include bacterial arthritis and septic arthritis is some common names for the Infectious Arthritis. Surgery is often used to treat this type of Arthritis.
Hemorrhagic Arthritis - At times, bleeding within the joint leads to inflammation of joints, or arthritic pain. Conditions like hemophilia, sickle cell disease, and pigmented villonodular synovitis lead to blood accumulation inside the joint leading to pain and swelling.
Treatments for Arthritis
Medications for Arthritis include, pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (e.g., Advil) and acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol). Hyaluronic acid products like Hyalgan and Synvisc are injected directly into the joint for providing temporary relief from pain and inducing flexible joint movements.
Heat and Cold, both conditions are at times used to treat arthritic pain.
Capsaicin cream is an ointment that relieves pain when limited joints are affected.
Hydrotherapy- involving relaxing in warm water, Mobilization Therapy- involving traction and massages help in relaxing stiff joints and Relaxation Therapy with the help of Physiotherapists.
In extreme cases surgery is required for repairing damaged joints for restoring normal functionality and pain. Doctors often recommend arthroplasty, arthroscopic surgery or bone fusion in such cases.
Our Integrative Approach
At The Center for Natural & Integrative Medicine, we offer unique natural treatments for arthritis that not only alleviate the symptoms of arthritis, but also help to repair the joints and rebuild cartilage.
Avoid Foods that Cause Flare-Ups
There is a strong connection between diet and inflammation, and for arthritis sufferers, inflammation means pain. Certain fats (processed vegetable oils, in particular) stimulate the formation of inflammatory chemicals, while others (the omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish and flaxseed) actually reduce inflammation.
We also evaluate our patients for food allergies, which are an often overlooked, yet powerful cause of flare-ups, particularly in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Get Regular Exercise
The last thing you may want to do when your joints are aching is exercise, but regular physical activity is a powerful therapy for arthritis. It strengthens the muscles that hold the joints in place and actually decreases pain and stiffness.
Our practitioners instruct each patient in a personalized exercise program aimed at strengthening the musculature around affected joints, improving flexibility, and increasing your activity level.
Nutritional Supplements Rebuild Cartilage and relieve pain
The reason we have such great success treating arthritis at the Center for Natural & Integrative Medicine is because we go beyond simply relieving pain to actually rebuilding cartilage. To do this, we use supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid and natural substances that provide the raw materials for regenerating cartilage.
We also recognize the importance of immediate relief of pain, and a number of supplements help in this regard. MSM, a natural sulfur compound, fish oil, turmeric (the yellow-orange spice in curry), Boswellia serrata (a tree resin), white willow (“natural aspirin”), and ginger all have potent anti-inflammatory actions and provide significant pain relief for aching joints.
By substituting these natural pain relievers, our practitioners can help you end your dependence on prescription drugs that can be addicting and have dangerous side effects.
We also offer a specialized therapy unknown to most conventional physicians, to treat chronic and severely painful joints. Prolozone is an innovative procedure that strengthens the tendons and ligaments which hold the joints in place, taking the stress off the joint and allowing it to heal. Hundreds of patients have experienced relief from sciatica, tendonitis, and persistent pain in the neck, back, knees, and other joints following a course of prolozone injections.
The Right Diagnosis and Treatment for Arthritis
Once the comprehensive review is completed for each patient, our doctors and our team of medical professionals will evaluate your diagnosis. At this point, our doctors will spend one on one time with you to interpret and explain your results. Together you will explore your goals and discuss your treatment plan options. These treatment plans can be implemented using multiple modalities such as medications, hormones, diet, supplements, behavior and lifestyle changes, and alternative therapies. Our doctors will prescribe a preventative and comprehensive treatment plan that is tailored to your needs and fits into your lifestyle.
Our doctors and our team at The Center for Natural & Integrative Medicine will regularly monitor your progress and track the effectiveness of your program making adjustments if necessary. Our goal is to support you and advise you every step of the way. We work in conjunction with your existing doctors.