This is a favourite subject of mine, both because of the results we see in the clinic and from my personal experience.
Joint pain is a symptom of many conditions and the first thing to do is to clarify the cause. It could be a structural issue resulting from an imbalance in moving that ends up stressing a joint after an accumulation of years. It could be from a nutritional deficiency, especially a depletion of minerals. Alternatively, it could be the result of excess congestion or toxicity in the body, clogging the joint and causing it to inflame. Autoimmunity could play a role. It can also be the side-effect of feeling devalued about that part of the body (from new body-mind research).
How to proceed?
The good news is that almost all kinds of joint pain respond well to diet, appropriate body work and relaxing rest, even while pursuing tests to differentiate the cause. In fact, sometimes the tests are no longer needed after the program below.
Starting with food, something over which most of us have some control, we sometimes recommend doing a trial “elimination diet.” This means avoiding the classic items that tend to aggravate joints and then adding them back in to discover which ones are specific to you. These includes wheat (the worst!), nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, etc), dairy, meat, bad fats (fried food, chips, etc.), chocolate, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, eggs, citrus fruits and additives.
Basically, the diet focusses on clean grains, veggies, fruit, light proteins, adequate pure water, moderate fruits and healthy fats for one to three weeks. We see amazing results and many people are motivated to stay on this regime when they become pain free. You don’t believe me, try it! You might find many other bothersome symptoms disappearing too. No need to do it all at once, a gradual process of elimination is gentler and my preferred way.
As for relaxing and rest, we recommend sleeping from 10pm to 6am and taking several 10-minute rest periods during the day where you breathe slowing and deeply to allow relaxation. The body can only heal during sleep and needs relaxation for the proper blood and nerve supply. Sometimes we need to treat sleeping disorders to make progress. Once sleep is established the body has more energy to heal.
Regarding body work, this is something for which I refer. It could be chiropractic, massage, physiotherapy or osteopathy, but the physical manipulation can be essential. This category also includes the appropriate exercise for your condition and body type and possibly re-learning how to move in a way that allows the joint to heal.
Finally, to help with any feelings of devaluation that might be cycling the pain in a loop, we provide cheerful emotional support and encouragement for people to increase their positive thinking.
If needed, supplements and various other techniques like acupuncture are added in, but these are totally individual. There is not one that fits for everyone.
Hope that helps and let me know how it goes if you try some of these!
Katherine Willow practices naturopathic medicine at the Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre, just north of the village of Carp. She is a fourth-generation naturopathic doctor via her family in Germany and has been practicing for 35 years. Her specialties are fatigue, allergies, children’s conditions, women’s health and cancer, although most conditions can benefit from naturopathic medicine. She will be writing a regular column on her experience, knowledge and education related to naturopathy.