Do you struggle to get out of bed in the morning because of stiffness? Do your knees ache? Maybe the simple task of writing a letter is just too painful. These aches and pains are not normal and should never be overlooked.
Arthritis is often in the headlines and gets a lot of attention as the primary reason for most joint pain. However, there are many other possible causes of your muscle pain, joint stiffness, and joint popping. These other contributors may not get as much press, but they can be just as common in contributing to joint pain.
Our joints, unfortunately, can be quite susceptible to both damage and inflammation. They can also be affected by something as ambiguous as hormonal imbalances in the body. Because of the different possible causes, there is no one size fits all prescription for joint pain. Simply put, not all joint pain is created equal. But, finding the root issue is truly the first step towards freedom and pain relief!
- Hormonal changes (thyroid, adrenal, menopausal, etc.)
- Stress and anxiety
- Carpal tunnel (wrist joint pain specifically)
Getting a Diagnosis
When you are unsure of the cause of your joint pain, it is wise to make a trip to your doctor or practitioner’s office for blood work and a physical evaluation. But before you go, it is wise ask yourself these questions to help diagnose the problem.
- When did the pain start? Did anything specific happen in your life happen during this time period like an injury or change in job or family life?
- Does the pain change with the weather or seasons?
- Is there anything causing significant stress in your life?
- What is your family’s health history?
The answers to these questions can help point your doctor in the right direction in diagnosing the problem. Many times we overlook or are unaware of possible causes that may be quite clear to our doctor or practitioner.
Knowing if you have underlying health issues that are affecting your joints is important to prevent unnecessary treatments and drugs. True healing cannot occur by only medicating the symptoms. Plus, you may see other health problems resolve when the true problem is corrected.
For example, if you have a thyroid issue, then you don’t want to address the joints, but rather the root thyroid problem. In this particular situation, isolating the joint pain with treatment isn’t a long-term solution. It would only inhibit healing where the body truly needs it: the thyroid.
Again, doctors and other health practitioners are trained at interpreting both your symptoms and lab work. This is why it is important for you to be very clear about everything you’ve been feeling, both emotionally and physically. Stress alone is known to be a common culprit of joint pain. If lowering your stress is the answer, then why waste your money on expensive drugs?
It might even be helpful to keep a pain symptom chart for a few weeks.
- Does pain occur after a particular activity?
- When did the joint stiffness first occur?
- Did the pain come suddenly or over time?
- Has the pain intensified or moved to any other joints?
Once you know the true cause, it is time to weigh your options and minimize any joint damage. In most instances, a doctor will offer you some sort of prescription medication to remedy your ailment. However, most prescription drugs for modifying joint pain also hail a plethora of harmful side-effects, including:
- Low white blood cell count (increasing your risk of infection)
- Serious birth defects
- High blood pressure
- Bone marrow toxicity
You can take other more natural, safe and effective treatment steps to remedy joint pain. Below, I will help you navigate through the possible contributors to joint pain and their natural remedies.
Hormonal Changes and Joint Pain
Hormonal shifts and fluctuations in the body can contribute to joint pain. If the hormonal imbalance isn’t addressed, then the side-effect of joint pain can be quite common. This is because as we age, hormone levels can drop. This is especially common in women. Hormone induced joint pain can be caused by:
- Low thyroid function (hypothyroidism)
- Adrenal fatigue
Hypothyroidism and Joint Pain
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid is not producing an adequate amount of thyroid hormones for the body, which can cause:
- Weight gain
- Intense fatigue
- Sensitivity to cold
- And even intense joint pain
It can often be difficult to distinguish between pain associated with hypothyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis. This is again is why getting a proper diagnosis is so important.
However, pain relief can be relieved once the thyroid is in proper balance again. There are naturally sourced prescription thyroid medications called Amour and Nature-throid. You may have to specifically request these natural replacements since the synthetic versions are typically prescribed.
Others with a more mild thyroid condition find great relief from thyroid boosting supplements. These supplements generally contain iodine and l-tyrosine, which are both important for thyroid function. My favorite supplement is Europharma’s Thyroid Care. However, there are several other wonderful formulas on the market. Check your local health food store for their recommendations.
Adrenal Fatigue and Joint Pain
One of the most under-diagnosed yet common health issues today is adrenal fatigue. Although it is becoming more accepted amongst medical professions, some doctors have stated that there is no such thing as adrenal fatigue. I strongly disagree. Adrenal fatigue is a result of an overstressed body. Some have even deemed it The Stress Syndrome.
When your body is under prolonged or chronic stress, your adrenals will continuously produce cortisol and adrenaline. Going long stretches without sleeping and using caffeine as a source of energy are also contributors to adrenal fatigue. This constant release of stress combating hormones eventually leaves the adrenals depleted and fatigued. This in turn causes a state of constant fatigue.
In persons with adrenal fatigue, weak muscles can also result. Many of the muscles affected are in the legs. The basic job of these muscles is to stabilize our joints. When our joints aren’t held stable, pain results.
Resolving adrenal fatigue is not a quick fix. You must be dedicated to both eating well and finding ways to safely combat the stress in your life. The basic steps in overcoming adrenal fatigue are:
- Lowering carbohydrate intake
- Eliminating white sugar completely
- Eliminating caffeine intake
- Increasing protein intake
- Getting adequate sleep (8 hours a night minimum)
- Taking a quality multivitamin and adrenal supplement (I recommend Europharma Adrenaplex)
- Finding a safe and effective stress outlet (prayer, meditation, yoga, etc.)
- Exercising, as well, is essential!
I personally battle adrenal fatigue and suffered many of the symptoms, including joint pain. I am now pain free and have far more energy. It is worth taking the time towards recovery!
Menopause and Joint Pain
Studies have found that lower levels of estrogen in the body can aggravate joint pain. This is especially common during menopause as estrogen levels begin to plummet. Some women have pain relief once they’ve completed menopause and their hormones have settled. However, many women have found substantial relief with natural hormone replacement therapy and estrogen mimicking supplements.
Since estrogen increases the risk of certain cancers, it is always best to follow your doctor’s guidelines closely and take the lowest dose needed to reduce your symptoms. Bio-identical hormones are becoming quite popular and are much safer than the synthetic versions. Bio-identical estrogen creams and patches are the most common forms of administration.
Many women have also found relief by taking estrogen-like supplements such as black cohosh and flax. These supplements do not actually contain estrogen, but have substances that act like estrogen in the body. These can be purchased at your local health food store and are far less expensive than bio-identical estrogen.
Gout and Joint Pain
Technically referred to as a form of arthritis, gout affects millions of people leaving them miserable and in severe pain. The good news, however, is out of all the joint issues, gout seems to be the easiest to treat!
Gout is inflammation in the joints from an accumulation of uric acid crystals. It can cause intense pain and inflammation and often affects the big toe. Treating gout naturally involves:
- Avoiding uric acid producing foods
- Consuming foods that neutralize uric acid
Foods high in purines break down into uric acid in the body thereby increasing the occurrence of gout. Common foods with high purine levels include:
- Red meat
- Organ meats
If you’re battling gout, then try to avoid these foods are eat them very sparingly.
Instead, beginning consuming more water to flush out the uric acid to reverse gout. Increase consumption of cherry juice, as well. Cherries contain compounds that block the reabsorption of uric acid and instead increase uric acid excretion via the urine. They also contain anthocyanins, which are anti-inflammatory. I’ve seen amazing results when people eliminated uric acid producing foods and begin drinking cherry juice on a daily basis. It is simple, inexpensive, and extremely effective at treating joint pain caused by gout!
Carpal Tunnel and Joint Pain
Carpal tunnel is a painful condition that primarily affects the wrist. It is typically brought on by years of repetitive movement and affects women three times more often than men. There is also a less common, yet similar syndrome in the ankle called tarsal tunnel.
Carpal tunnel joint pain is caused by inflammation or pressure on the medial nerve. This nerve controls sensation to the thumb and first three fingers. Over times it can progress to severe pain, numbness in the fingers and thumb, and an inability to grip objects.
Carpal tunnel can be properly diagnosed using several physical tests. Once diagnosed, a wrist-brace or even surgery may be suggested.
However, many have found pain relief from natural supplements and vitamins in quelling the pain of carpal tunnel. Acupuncture is also a great alternative that can bring significant relief.
Some of the most common supplements for carpal tunnel include:
- B6 – Studies have found a possible correlation between B6 deficiency and carpal tunnel. A typical dose for carpal tunnel is 50 mg 2-3 times a day. (1)
- Arnica – A homeopathic used typically for trauma, swelling, and bruising. Arnica has also shown to improve carpal tunnel swelling and pain. Follow the dosing directions on the bottle.
- Systemic Enzymes – These enzymes help tremendously with tissue swelling. It may take a few weeks to see results so stick with it. A great brand to purchase is Wobenzym.
- Topricin – This is a topical cream formulated with safe, homeopathic ingredients that address the root of the pain. It doesn’t just mask the pain like most menthol based creams.
- Curamin – The base of this product is curcumin, which is the active component of the herb turmeric. The makers of Curamin use a specialized extraction process making their curcumin 20X stronger than your typical curcumin product. They also blend it with other anti-inflammatory ingredients like boswellia making it quite possibly the best natural anti-inflammatory on the market. I have personally heard the testimonies from happy customers. The formulator of the product personally told me that a double dose could be used in the beginning to put out the fire of inflammation. After 3-7 days, you can begin weaning down to a maintenance dose that works for you.
Although joint pain is really quite common, it doesn’t have to be normal. You aren’t doomed to suffer from joint pain! Finding balance in your body with the use of natural supplements and a healthy diet can prevent and even quell that unnecessary joint pain.
Do you suffer from joint pain? What do you think is the contributor to that pain? What steps do you plan to implement in eliminating that pain?
Amanda Box is a Traditional Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.
com/ for contact info.