What is Arthritis?"Arthritis" is derived from two Greek words, "arthro" (joint) and "itis" (inflammation) and basically, that is exactly what it is: joint inflammation. A related word, "rheumatism" is actually not a separate condition, but an older term for essentially the same general condition when it affects a number of areas of the body simultaneously. "Rheumatism" means, "resembling rheumatic fever," a disease that causes crippling joint inflammation.
One of the most misunderstood aspects of arthritis is that it is believed to be an age-related disease only. In fact, according to Arthritis Australia, of the estimated 3.8 million Australians who suffer from a type of the disease, 2.4 million are of working age and juvenile arthritis is not uncommon.
Types of ArthritisOf the more than 100 types of arthritis, some of the most commonly found forms of the disease include:
- Ankylosing spondylitis: This primarily is felt in the lower back.
- Gout: Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid, which leads to crystal deposits in the joints.
- Lupus, or Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease, one of whose symptoms is joint inflammation.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is another autoimmune disease. Unlike lupus, which can display a number of other symptoms, rheumatoid arthritis affects the joints only.
Natural Treatments for ArthritisThere are no known allopathic (pharmaceutical) or natural cures for arthritis, but a number of natural treatments have been shown to relieve the painful and debilitating symptoms of the disease:
- Herbalists prescribe a variety of anti-inflammatory herbs, including rose hips, Devil's Claw, willowbark and many others.
- Naturopaths often recommend anti-inflammatory herbs as well as supplements such as glucosamine sulfate, which is high in antioxidants that seem to be particularly effective in the treatment of arthritis.
- Osteopathy includes gentle, yet effective manual manipulation of the affected areas that is said to help relieve inflammation, increase blood flow and help improve mobility.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) does not look at arthritis as a specific disease, viewing it as an imbalance to be corrected through herbal treatments, accupuncture and other therapeutic techniques.
While it cannot be cured, arthritis can be controlled and relief can be found through natural and conventional treatments. If you or someone you know is suffering from the symptoms of arthritis, contact a health professional in your area immediately. Early intervention is the best way to prevent mild arthritis from developing into something more severe.