Arthritis refers to a range of musculoskeletal conditions where the joints become inflamed, which may result in pain, stiffness, disability and/or deformity. These symptoms can often have a significant impact on a person’s everyday life.
In 2014-2015, 3.5 million people or 15.3% of Australians had arthritis. Of these people with arthritis, 58.9% had osteoarthritis, 11.5% had rheumatoid arthritis and 34.8% had an unspecified type of arthritis (NB it is possible to have more than one type of arthritis). Many people think that arthritis is a part of growing old but this isn’t true; 2 out of 3 people with arthritis are aged between 15-60 years old.
Arthritis is often referred to as a single disease. In fact, it is an umbrella term for more than 100 medical conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system.
Below I’ve listed the most common ones:
- Osteoarthritis – a progressive disorder of the joints caused by gradual loss of cartilage, resulting in the development of bony spurs and cysts at the margins of the joints
- Rheumatoid arthritis – a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and deformity of the joints
- Gout – a disease in which defective metabolism of uric acid causes arthritis, especially in the smaller bones of the feet
- Ankylosing spondylitis – an inflammatory arthritis affecting the spine and large joints
- Juvenile arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) – an inflammatory disease caused when the immune system attacks its own tissues, with symptoms including fatigue, joint pain, rash and fever
- Scleroderma (also called Crest Syndrome) – a long term autoimmune disease that results in hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues.
Other types of arthritis include:
- Adult-onset Still’s Disease
- Back Pain
- Calcium Pyrophosphate Deposition Disease (CPPD)
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Chondromalacia Patella
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
- Cryopyrin-Associated Periodic Syndromes (CAPS)
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Developmental-Dysplasia of Hip
- Familial Mediterranean Fever
- Fifth Disease
- Giant Cell Arteritis
- Infectious Arthritis
- Inflammatory Arthritis
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JD)
- Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)
- Juvenile Scleroderma
- Kawasaki Disease
- Lyme Disease
- Mixed Connective Tissue Disease
- Myositis (inc. Polymyositis, Dermatomyositis)
- Palindromic Rheumatism
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
- Pediatric Rheumatic Diseases
- Pediatric SLE
- Polymyalgia Rheumatica
- Psoriatic Arthritis
- Raynaud’s Phenomenon
- Reactive Arthritis
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
- Rheumatic Fever
- Sjögren’s Disease
- Spinal Stenosis
- Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
- Systemic Sclerosis
- Temporal Arteritis
- Wegener’s Granulomatosis
As the population ages, the number of people with arthritis is growing. Recent research suggests that by 2050, 7 million Australians will suffer from some form of arthritis. So with these numbers dramatically increasing, what are the contributing factors?
What are some of the contributing factors?
The top three contributing factors are:
- Lack of Omega-3 consumption
- Gut health and leaky gut.
The latest research suggests that initiation of autoimmune conditions like arthritis can stem from the gut. The two major mechanisms that are responsible for this are:
- Leaky gut
- Lack of beneficial bacteria, or an overgrowth of pathogenic or bad bacteria.
Recent studies are discovering links between certain types of bacteria and conditions such as arthritis.
Other factors that contribute to arthritis are:
- Being overweight or obese
Additional body fat can strain the joints. Accumulated fat itself can also cause problems to joints that are already sensitive and partially damaged. Fat does more than just sit on your body, as it’s an active tissue that creates and releases hormones and chemicals. Some of these promote inflammation and can contribute to worsening arthritis all over your body.
- Not being physically active
- Toxicity due to some of our environmental factors and genetic factors – read more here
- Low immune function due to other medical conditions
- A poor diet.
What can help?
Instead of just looking at the inflamed and painful joints, we must look at the whole body. By doing this, we can see that what we feed the body will affect the health of it too. So if we feed the body food that will not nourish it, it allows ill health in the body such as fatigue, tiredness and general un-wellness to manifest. These are all symptoms of arthritis. However, if we do the opposite and start to nourish the whole of our bodies, the symptoms will diminish.
Below are some tips to implement straight away:
- Avoid the modern SAD diet (Standard Australian/American Diet) and eat an anti-inflammatory diet full of nutrient dense foods from nature
- Manage your stress levels
- Make sure you get enough movement and sunshine daily
- Connect with nature
- Good quality sleep – watch this video to understand how important quality sleep is
- Becoming informed. Read, listen to podcasts and audio books, and keep learning.
- Work with an integrative doctor
- Surround yourself with a support system – family, friends, loved ones and health consultants.
You can also watch this short video here as Cyndi discusses arthritis, contributing factors, the microbiome and the types of food in your current diet.
Check out Part 2 of this blog to find out three all-natural foods you can begin adding to your diet to help reduce arthritis symptoms.