HOLLY CARLING: Arthritis: Blurring the line

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The line is blurring. Ages ago it seemed that arthritis was simple. It was “a little rheumatism” or osteoarthritis. But as we journey down this path of progressive bone deterioration, the line between the two is getting a little muddled. It used to be you had one or another; today it’s common to have both.

Arthritis occurs primarily years after a trauma or repetitive motion. The cartilage gets damaged, and unless something is done about it, it continues to deteriorate until it worsens to a condition we have named “arthritis.” When the pain is bad enough, the person is then put on drugs to help them live with the pain. Since pain meds do nothing to heal the damage, and since the person continues to do things the same way, the dis-ease continues and may eventually evolve into a condition referred to as “rheumatoid arthritis,” or they get a joint replacement if it is one of their large joints.

Notice the word evolve was italicized. Autoimmune diseases are a condition of a progressive state of disease — the person (and the joint) is getting sicker and sicker and can no longer compel healing.

But that almost sounds like a person can stop the evolution! They can. Multiple studies have shown that damaged cartilage has the capacity to heal. So why doesn’t it? There are many factors involved with the healing process, and each piece of the puzzle needs to be found and put into place.

One piece is the dreaded “inflammation.” Yet inflammation, in the appropriate amounts is essential to the healing process. We take ibuprofen or any number of medications to stop the inflammatory cascade. Is this the right thing to do? Yes and no. Runaway inflammation can cause a domino effect of inflammatory damage in the joints and throughout the body and needs to be kept in check. Notice I said “kept in check,” not stopped. In an effort to make us more comfortable, we tend to do things that actually prevent healing, this being one of those areas. The inflammatory dance — the line between keeping it in check and making the person comfortable, and yet allowing the healing process to take place is a delicate line. How do we tip-toe around this process while stimulating healing?

With acupuncture. Acupuncture helps with pain, inflammation and swelling, by stimulating your own body to take care of itself. No side effects like those found with drugs, no suppressing the healing action, but by assisting the body to make the necessary repairs. Add to this quality nutrients via diet and/or nutritional supplements that provide the building blocks for healing tissue, and the body goes to town healing the damage — and this is just the beginning!

Learn more by attending our upcoming health class, Natural Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis Relief, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7 at Vital Health in Coeur d’Alene. Fee: $10. RSVP: 208-765-1994. Class description and online registration at: http://bit.ly/VHRARelief.

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Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’Alene clinic. Visit Carling’s website at www.vitalhealthcda.com to learn more about Carling, view a list of upcoming health classes and read other informative articles. Carling can be reached at 208-765-1994 and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.

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