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If you suffer from Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis, recent research offers you new hope.

New research published in the Journal Pain Practice, August 2017 indicates that it is inflammation and especially neuroinflammation (inflammation of the nerves) rather than degeneration that is the cause of arthritis, especially osteoarthritis.

Inflammation is an immune response critical for healing. During this process, white blood cells are activated to break down and ingest damaged cells, thereby clearing the area for the laying down of new tissue.

The problem is that constant, long term irritation (greater than 6 weeks) from external forces (e.g. excessive physical loading) and internal forces (e.g. chemical / nutritional and psychological /stress/depression) can cause over-stimulation of your immune system so that it begins to breakdown undamaged or healing tissue, thereby impeding healing.

Nerves are like the communication and power lines in our body. They serve to give feedback to the brain (and spinal cord) as to what is happening from both inside and outside the body and then they provide the conduit for impulses to the body’s tissues (e.g. muscles) so that the body can respond.

Like power lines, they need to be able to mobile and to move as your body moves so that they don’t get tugged, caught or pressed on. If they do, then the result will be adverse reactions such as pain, pins and needles, numbness and even loss of power.

Nerves, in particular, can have a magnifying effect on the pain experienced with inflammation. Not only do they become over-sensitive to stimuli, but they also become restricted in their mobility. This leads to nerve tension, irritability, soft tissue tension (e.g. connective tissue, muscle), joint restriction and stiffness and faulty postures and movement patterns, further perpetuating the problem.

Not only that, but your brain which initially acts as a receiver of pain then after about six weeks can become a transmitter of pain beginning and perpetuating the cycle of chronic pain.

However, what this new research means for you is that if you can reduce the inflammatory process, you may be able to limit and perhaps even turn around this destructive process.

How do you do that? Here are some tips.
  1. If your pain is consistently from certain physical postures, positions, movements or activities you need to
  2. Avoid or at least change the way that you perform these behaviors so that they become non-painful.
  3. Unload the structure which is hurting with tape, bracing, sling, crutches, etc. to the point that stress has been alleviated.
  4. Apply a cold pack for 10-20 minutes (check the skin every 5 minutes for adverse skin reactions) and repeat at least 6 times a day for 3- 5 days. The emphasis on cold packs is especially important towards the end of the day.
  5. Depending on the severity and the irritability of the tissue (how much stimulus causing how much pain for how long it lasts), dictates how much movements is possible. The key is to keep movement pain-free, easy and not stressful for at least 1-2 weeks to remove inflammatory chemicals and aid healing.
  6. Specific neural mobility techniques and exercises may have a profound effect on increasing nerve mobility and reducing nerve irritability and inflammation.
Nutritionally you need to:
  1. Eat complex carbohydrates and low GI foods. Reduce your intake of simple, refined carbohydrates such as anything with white flour and white sugar. Refined carbohydrates cause the hormone insulin to spike which causes inflammation.
  2. Reduce Omega 6 fatty acids such as animal fats as these are pro-inflammatory and increase Omega 3 fatty acids (oily fish, flaxseed 3 to 4 times each week) as these are anti-inflammatory. The ideal ratio is 4-2:1. The current western diet is about 20:1
  3. Avoid trans-fats that contain hydrogenated oils such as many fried foods, pastries, cakes, biscuits, and margarine. These are inflammatory.
  4. Reduce the intake of your food which creates an acidic environment inside your body by reducing your intake of sugar, red meat, and animal products, alcohol, coffee, soft drinks) and increasing your intake of vegetables (especially greens) and filtered water (2 liters per day).
  5. Avoid any food which gives an inflammatory or allergic reaction. How do you know? Listen to your body. Any time you feel lethargic, irritated, foggy, tired or sleepy after a meal? Do your nails tongue, hair, teeth, eyes, skin, lips, mouth, muscles and stools have any adverse changes?
  6. Eat high-quality protein (>0.8 gms/kg per day).
  7. To reduce inflammation and improve healing take a daily probiotic and fish oil 6-9 gms/day, 1 ½ teaspoon or 8 capsules or 1 quality krill oil capsule.
  8. For natural pain relief take quercetin 600-1000mg/day Rutin, Bromelain, Curcumin.
Psychologically you need to:

Better manage stress so that you have a sense of control, of being in the moment, are sleeping well and are well connected with other people.

It is beyond the scope of this blog to go into detail with management strategies. Suffice to say that if you are feeling stressed, out of control, not coping and or things are affecting adversely your everyday life then seek help from your GP or a qualified psychotherapist.

Whilst arthritis can be painful and debilitating, this new research offers you hope.

In particular, the concept of reducing nerve inflammation through nerve mobility techniques may provide a powerful treatment for restoring joint health.

If you are having or have had treatment for arthritis, ask your health professional to assess and treat your nerve mobility. It may just be the key to getting you better.

If you would like any help with any aspect of Getting Better, Staying Better and Living Better, please don’t hesitate to call us here at Bodywise Health on 1 300 BODYWISE (263 994).

We would love to help you get back to living freely and without pain.

Wishing you the best of health and life.

Michael Hall
Director, Physiotherapist
Bodywise Health
For more information on how Bodywise Health can help you to overcome your pain, please call Bodywise Health on 1 300 BODYWISE (263 994).
Please note:
  • Rebates are available through your private insurance extras cover;
  • For complex or chronic conditions, you may qualify for the EPC (Enhanced Primary Care Program) allowing you to receive 5 allied health services each calendar year with a referral from your GP. For more information, please call Bodywise Health now on 1 300 BODYWISE (263 994).