Posted by Dr. Alexandra Carson-Engle on Jun 26, 2019 6:22:32 PM
Poor joint health is a common problem with causes that vary as wildly as its treatment options.
A commonly misconstrued fact is that all discomfort is the same and should be treated equally. In reality, this over-generalization can have damaging effects on a patient’s improvement. The first step to determining a patient’s course of treatment is getting to the heart of the matter.
Inflammation requires a different approach than nerve health. An autoimmune concern will be treated differently than chronic degenerative tissue. By understanding the different approaches to providing optimal joint health, we can determine the best course of action for ensuring it.
Poor joint health can be narrowed down to four leading causes. While they can all be distinctly differentiated, some are so closely related that they require an in-depth analysis of the patient’s lifestyle. Aspects such as exercise habits, diet, and stress can carry a significant impact on a patient’s physical health.
Autoimmune issues may be a factor in poor joint health. In this case, inflammatory mechanisms can modulate joint health, but to get to the real cause of the matter, you will need to address the patient’s immune deregulation. Masking the patient’s symptoms with medication is only a temporary solution. Without addressing the autoimmune trigger, you’re left with consistently recurring health problems and reliance on traditional approaches to mitigate it.
Inflammation is another cause of poor joint health. Diet and stress are two large contributing factors to inflammation, while trauma, such as a sprained ankle, can cause acute inflammation. This is an example of two very closely related causes of sub-par joint health, but each bearing a very different mitigation plan.
Nerve damage is the most common cause of poor joint health, with the highest number of causes and solutions. In this case, once the root of the issue is determined, it’s relatively easy to assemble a course of action for the patient.
There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is the body’s natural response to damage or acute illnesses. People can also experience inflammation as the result of underlying issues which are not so easily remedied, such as an autoimmune disorder, chronic illness, or inability to heal whatever has caused acute inflammation, or long-term exposure to environmental toxins or irritants.
Acute inflammation is more noticeable. It’s the result of the body dedicating a high number of its resources to heal itself from an injury or strain. In this case, no course of action is required because the inflammation is a natural part of the immune process.
Acute inflammation can be divided into trauma triggers and non-trauma triggers. In the case of a trauma or injury, you’re attempting to increase the patient’s joint health without reducing the inflammation that’s there to increase blood flow and remove waste from the area.
With non-trauma acute inflammation, your primary concern is to calm the nervous system and reduce the patient’s response to the discomfort. This is usually the result of an over-stressed nervous system responding negatively to a significant amount of stimulus. The patient’s body is making us aware that something is going on that needs to be addressed.
Calming the inflammation is the most significant component to manage it. If the discomfort has persisted well past the beneficial time frame for its stimulus, there is something deeper that needs to be examined. This is usually related to nervous system hyper-sensitization, caused by poor adrenal health, toxicity, or other stressors present within the body. There may be emotional aspects involved, as well.
Ongoing discomfort will set in when acute healing is subpar. Nutrient deficiencies or a poor diet, lack of sleep, and excessive stress are common contributors to reduce the ability to overcome inflammation. When this occurs, we need to reactivate the body’s immune system, which is mostly done through physical stimulus.
Unlike with acute inflammation, discomfort is not a beneficial stimulus. It is persistent and exists as a side effect of the patient’s and not as a signal that the patient’s body has an issue that needs to be addressed.
In this case, anything that can be used to decrease the body’s discomfort signaling would be a go-to. This includes topical capsaicin creams, herbal rubs of essential oils, and any proven option for healthy inflammatory support.
Individuals in need of support for their nervous system respond well to heat and the dilation of blood cells. Common causes include entrapment, irritation, or compartment issues. Sometimes their immune system may also be attacking the patient’s nerves. The reasons one could experience nerve issues are nearly endless and can even include emotional components.
Sciatic problems are an example of nervous system issues that have strong emotional and physical components that need to be addressed. Once a patient works through their overall stress and emotional state and tends to their physical weaknesses—in this case, glutes, anterior core, and postural issues—the sciatic nerve tends to calm itself. Optimal nerve health can be supported through heat application or a homeopathic approach, such as hypericum or hypericum oil applied topically.
Conventionally, we have been too quick to jump to maskers that work well to relieve symptoms but won’t provide any lasting solution. Once a patient’s entire situation has been examined, it’s often easy to connect the cause of the discomfort to lifestyle choices, undue stress, or more deeply seated clinical issues that can be alleviated with a proper treatment plan.
The primary way to ensure optimal joint health is determining the underlying factor(s). Discomfort doesn’t exist without reason. It’s always trying to tell you something or accomplish something within the patient’s body. Decoding that message is the key to creating a plan that will get the patient on track for optimal joint health.
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