This week we look at inflammatory problems other than arthritis that affect joints and surrounding tissue.
The most common are bursitis and tendonitis. Bursitis is a very common, often debilitating, joint problem. Our mobile joints such as knees, hips, shoulders and elbows have little fluid filled sacs called bursae. These allow for smooth joint function, especially in the parts of joints that are subject to a lot of friction. They allow tendons, bones and muscles to move freely. Bursitis occurs when the bursa membrane becomes inflamed and can swell to a larger size.
Sometimes bursitis can be caused by a bacterial infection and will need treatment with antibiotics. The standard non-infective bursitis usually responds well to anti-inflammatory medication. Sometimes though it can become a chronic condition and cause semi-permanent joint pain. I find that bursitis responds very well to nutritional therapy.
Another form of inflammatory joint pain is tendonitis. Tendons are the tough form of connective tissue that attach muscles to bones and are very important in joints. Tendons can become inflamed from overuse or injury. Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is often caused by repetitive straining of the tendon. Once inflamed, it can be a difficult condition to deal with.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be cause by inflamed flexor tendons which cause swelling in the wrist, which compresses the median nerve. I was once an inflammatory right-arm train-wreck with bursitis in my elbow, right hand carpal tunnel and severe inflammation of right hand tendons. At one stage my right hand was so swollen and painful that it probably would have been more comfortable to be without it. Fortunately these have all resolved and it is wonderful to have my hand back.
The key to nutritional therapy is to make sure you ‘starve’ inflammation from your diet by avoiding high omega 6 plant oils while maximising omega 3 rich fish, fish oil and some seeds. The one exception to the omega 6 rule is evening primrose oil that, while high in omega 6, is very anti-inflammatory because its gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) restricts immune system generated inflammation. My favourite anti-inflammatory nutrients are OPCs, resveratrol, curcumin (turmeric extracts) and, of course, omega 3 fish oils. With supplements it is all about covering as many anti-inflammatory bases as possible and getting maximum anti-inflammatory benefits from every dollar you spend. Give me a call if you need more information. To join my weekly newsletter go to www.johnarts.co.nz and visit www.abundant.co.nz
John Arts is the founder of Abundant Health. To contact John phone (local) 578 9051 or 0800 423 559.