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Osteo versus Rheumatoid and the Best Natural Treatments for Both

Joint pain is a common complaint that shows up at the doctor’s office every day. Arthritis is a general term meaning inflammation in the joints. Is it rheumatoid or osteoarthritis? What’s the difference and what are the best natural treatments?

About 50 million North Americans (approximately one in seven people) have some form of arthritis. In another 20 years, as baby boomers grow older and people live longer, close to 70 million people in Canada and the U.S. will have arthritis.

The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, and ankylosing spondylitis. Severity can range from mild to crippling and may even be life threatening in rare cases. Both osteo and rheumatoid involve painful, stiff joints with a limited range of motion, warmth and tenderness in the affected areas, and an increased intensity of symptoms upon arising in the morning. Both types are more common in women than men, but rheumatoid can develop at any age while osteo is more common in older adults in their 50s and 60s.

Symptoms of Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis can develop in children (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis), with early symptoms such as low-grade fever, muscle aches, and severe fatigue. In adults, the more severe forms can include painful lumps underneath the skin near the joints (rheumatoid nodules).

Osteoarthritis is limited solely to the joints and doesn’t affect the entire body. Lumps under the skin near the joints are also possible, but these are different from those that are seen with rheumatoid. Bone growths at the edges of the affected joints, called bone spurs, can occur with osteoarthritis but not rheumatoid. Osteoarthritis is the commonest form and is most often caused by wear and tear on the joints. In osteoarthritis there is basically a breakdown of the cartilage that provides cushioning of the joints.

On the other hand, rheumatoid occurs when the immune system attacks the lining of the joints and can affect the whole body. Rheumatoid is therefore classified as an autoimmune systemic condition and generally can cause much greater joint deformity than osteoarthritis. Although there are exceptions, rheumatoid tends to affect the middle joints of the fingers while osteo affects the joints at the end of the fingers and at the base of the thumbs. Rheumatoid tends to affect the joints symmetrically on both sides of the body while osteo usually doesn’t do that. Rheumatoid tends to start with the smaller joints in the hands and feet and spread to the larger bones as the disease progresses.

In osteoarthritis, the most likely joints to be involved are the ones that have been the subject of the most wear and tear. So the commonest sites for osteo are the spine, hips and knees. With osteoarthritis there tends to be stiff joints early in the morning but this stiffness gradually improves within 20 minutes of initiating movement. With rheumatoid the same thing happens but stiffness takes longer to resolve (usually 45 – 60 minutes).

Causes of Arthritis

  • Family History and Previous Injury: A family history of arthritis appears to play a part in the disease, but the exact mechanisms are still a mystery. The wear and tear of aging and previous joint damage or injury is specifically associated with osteoarthritis.
  • Hydrochloric acid deficiency:  Another potential cause of osteoarthritis, and of rheumatoid arthritis, is a deficiency of hydrochloric acid produced by the stomach. Released in digestion, this acid helps us to absorb the minerals we need for healthy bones and joints. Mineral deficiencies can either cause or worsen just about any type of arthritis. Calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, silicon, sulfur, boron, strontium and numerous other lesser-known minerals are involved in bone synthesis, breakdown and repair. These minerals can be inhibited from being absorbed if one uses antacids and stomach acid-suppressing drugs like the PPIs (proton pump inhibitors). The longer one uses antacids, the likelier the arthritis.
  • Fluoride: We have all been brainwashed by public health authorities about the importance of fluoride for dental health. If you look at the actual research, you’ll find studies indicating that fluoride, at levels as low as one part-per-million in drinking water, can cause osteoarthritis by breaking down collagen, the mesh-like protein in bone and other connective tissue.
  • Vitamin D deficiency: A deficiency of vitamin D may cause loss of cartilage and degenerative bony spur formation, which are linked to an increased risk for osteoarthritis progression. Vitamin D is anti-inflammatory, so deficiency can also be part of the cause in rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, any autoimmune disease can be worsened by vitamin D deficiency.
  • Food Allergies: These may be a hidden cause of chronic inflammation in joints and are linked with the immune system dysfunction that occurs in rheumatoid arthritis. It is a well-known fact that fasting for extended periods of time (juice or water fasting) improves arthritis symptoms. Food allergies are also linked to leaky gut syndrome – a condition in which damage to the gut lining allows large protein molecules to be absorbed. The immune system then treats the molecules as foreign substances and makes antibodies that can attack the joints, leading to inflammation. Known food allergies and foods that are ‘pro-inflammatory’ such as red meat, synthetic fats (margarine), genetically modified oils (canola, corn, soy), as well as sugar, caffeine, and wheat, to name a few, may worsen or cause symptoms and should be eliminated. Members of the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants, and tobacco) might have to be eliminated by some sensitive individuals.
  • Mercury: Another cause of immune system inflammation is mercury. This toxin is increasingly found in higher amounts in fish and seafood, as well as dental fillings, which can leak mercury vapour into the body on a daily basis. Mercury also acts like a magnet for fungi like candida. An overgrowth of candida can also be linked to rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Fungi and Parasites: Yeast, fungi, and their mycotoxins initiate many autoimmune diseases involving joint inflammation. Parasites and unfriendly bacteria compete with us for nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, and secrete waste products into the gut and bloodstream capable of causing various allergic or autoimmune reactions.
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