Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form of arthritis in the world. It affects a third of adults aged 65 and over. The knees and hip joints are most commonly affected and is amongst the top leading cause of disability in adults globally. The stats show that men have a 45% lower risk of knee osteoarthritis and a 36% lower risk of hip osteoarthritis than women.
What happens in the body during osteoarthritis?
When inflammation occurs during osteoarthritis, the body produces an increased number of cells within and around the joint. This is a protective mechanism designed to heal.
These cells release inflammatory substances into the synovial fluid, the lubricant that allows joints to move smoothly.
The body's healing mechanism is designed to activate the joint but when inflammation persists and the lifestyle, underlying nervous system and diet are not adjusted, eventually osteoarthritis sets in. Over time, the synovial fluid becomes less viscous and heavier. Joints start to feel stiffer, denser. Density is literally building up at this point and fluid flow elsewhere in the body will be affected. As these inflammatory substances come into direct contact with sensory nerve cells in and around the joint, the sensation of pain can occur.
What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?
Pain: Affected joints might hurt during or after movement. Pain in extremities in early stage onset such as fingers and toes.
Stiffness: Joint stiffness might be most noticeable upon awakening or after being inactive. Especially hard to get up after being seated.
Tenderness: Your joint might feel tender when you apply light pressure to or near it.
Loss of Flexibility: You might not be able to move your joint through its full range of motion.
Grating Sensation: You might feel a grating sensation when you use the joint, and you might hear a popping or cracking.
Bone Spurs: These extra bits of bone, which feel like hard lumps, can form around the affected joint.
Swelling: This might be caused by soft tissue inflammation around the joint.
Osteoarthritis tends to occur in women over 50 with obesity but it's important to recognise that this is a trend and doesn't mean it's exclusive. There are many people who have early onset osteoarthritic conditions and symptoms that are actually younger and physically mobile and not overweight. This is a degenerative disorder compounded by excessive weight and pressure on joints but that's not where the root causes lie. The root causes of this condition lie in inflammation, nervous system sympathetic overstimulation and spinal alignment compounded by injuries, lifestyle factors and physical neglect of health.
However, in recent years it has become clear that osteoarthritis is not restricted to cartilage damage, but is a failure of the entire joint, along with inflammation -- the body's response to stress, sustained and buried trauma and injury.
Osteoarthritis is not restricted to cartilage damage, but is a failure of the entire joint, along with inflammation -- the body's response to stress, sustained and buried trauma and injury.
The whole spine will be implicated especially in conditions of advanced osteoarthritis and the whole spine will need to be treated
What is not often talked about is the various levels of spinal misalignment that will be present, particularly in the cervical and upper thoracic spine.
This over time affects CSF flow to the brain. There are huge consequences for this including neurotoxicity and neurological age related conditions. Read my post here on treating Alzheimers. Neurons are most susceptible to damage caused by neurotoxicity. They are essential for transmitting and processing information in the brain, as well as other areas of the nervous system.
Most people with osteoarthritis will also have spinal issues:
- a marked curvature or hunch in the shoulders and upper thoracic spine such as a kyphotic-lordotic posture that puts heavy strain on the musculoskeletal system but also the respiratory system and digestive system.
This spinal alignment is due to:
- prolonged misuse of the body
- persistent poor posture
- unresolved injuries that have affected nerves at the base of the spine or in the neck
- birth defects / birth trauma
- trauma and holding in the nervous system that has solidified and created patterns of contraction
- imbalances in deep fascial layers particularly around the posterior side of the heart the area related to self love
- closing in of the chest area and heart due to protective defensive mechanisms around emotional vulnerability and openness
- imbalance in the atlas area (Read more here) due to a sense of 'holding up the world' over burdened by duty and responsibility.
Read more about the importance of healing the spine here
Stretching or ligament looseness or laxity can cause problems of head forward position as head forward position can cause further dames to the cervical spine ligaments.
By 2050 an estimated 130 million people will suffer with osteoarthritis placing a substantial burden on health services. Currently there is no effective treatment for this painful ailment, with only painkillers available to treat symptoms and no known cure.
How can you become more aware of unconscious inner pressure reflecting in the central nervous system and spine? Some questions to ask yourself:
How can the root causes of degenerative conditions at such a fundamental structural level be identified and resolved?
What is gradually being worn away within you?
Furthermore, how does this relate to your unconscious beliefs and depth of embodiment?
What is actually degenerating in your inner world? What parts of yourself have you forgotten or are neglecting?
What do you need in order to build yourself back up from within?
What does renewed flow and vitality look like in your body and life?
The physical structure is the base level of consciousness and chronic conditions are a statement and mirror of that consciousness point. Degradation at this level makes it incredibly difficult to build, the foundation of the body and spirit is the skeletal system. When joints are affected the whole spine will compensate. Over time this will affect tissues and visceral functioning.
The physical structure is the base level of consciousness. Degradation at this level makes it incredibly difficult to build, the foundation of the body and spirit is the skeletal system.
“Degenerative” conditions like osteoarthritis require radical and deep transformation at a holistic level including diet, mobility, stress factors, somatic connection, posture, spinal health and alignment and inner work on the subconscious beliefs pertaining to self worth, regeneration of self and creative fluidity.
Diet can support recovery but lifestyle changes need to be implemented alongside trauma healing
Research has shown that certain foods not only lower inflammation in the short-term, but actually change the expression of pro-inflammatory genes and immune cells that can drive disease.
A large study published in 2016 in the European journal, Clinical Nutrition used frailty (defined as low energy, trouble rising from a chair and muscle loss) as a stand-in for disease progression. After following 4,000 patients who had or were at high risk of OA for eight years, researchers found that participants who ate a typical American diet were twice as likely to become frail compared with those on a Mediterranean-style food plan.
Researchers from the University of Surrey examined the link between diet and the effective self-management of osteoarthritis. They found that a low-dose supplement of fish oil (one and a half standard capsules) could result in pain reduction for patients with osteoarthritis and help improve their cardiovascular health. This is because essential fatty acids in fish oil reduce inflammation in joints, helping to alleviate pain.
What other dietary changes help?
- Vitamin K: Go Green! An increase in foods rich in vitamin K such as kale, spinach and parsley was also found to deliver benefits to patients with osteoarthritis. Vitamin K is needed for vitamin-K-dependent (VKD) proteins, which are found in bone and cartilage. An inadequate intake of the vitamin adversely affects the working of the protein, affecting bone growth and repair and increasing the risk of osteoarthritis.
-Sulforaphane : Again, Go Green!: Sulforaphane slows down the destruction of cartilage in joints associated with painful and often debilitating osteoarthritis. Sulforaphane is released when eating cruciferous vegetables such as brussels sprouts (yum) and cabbage, but particularly broccoli. Previous research has suggested that sulforaphane has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, but this is the first major study into its effects on joint health. - Type II Collagen - Collagen hydrolysate supplements are rich in a number of amino acids (a group of chemical compounds) that play an important role in the creation of collagen. Type II collagen is one of the main proteins in cartilage. Taking collagen hydrolysate can improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis by stimulating your body’s production of joint collagen. - Anti inflammatory foods - the Mediterranean diet stems from its ability to regulate inflammation by focusing on anti-inflammatory foods (berries, fish, olive oil) and excluding or limiting pro-inflammatory ones (red meat, sugar and most dairy).
- Turmeric and ginger are natural anti-inflammatory agents, and there are many ways to incorporate them into your cooking, tea and smoothies.
Foods to Avoid
Saturated fats. Saturated fats also cause inflammation, and according to the Arthritis Foundation, people with arthritis have a higher risk of heart disease. So there are two good reasons to limit their intake. They include meat, cheese, and butter. You can still eat them, but be sure not to consume more than 20 grams per day.
Sugar triggers the body’s immune system into defense mode, causing osteoarthritis flare ups that may leave your joints feeling weak and non-functional.
Dairy forms especially processed- A study published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2015 found that eating dairy foods increased low-grade inflammation in a small sample of German adults. And a study of more than 40,000 people with osteoarthritis (OA) found that those who ate more dairy products were more likely to need hip replacement surgery.
Alcohol. Here are two reasons to limit alcohol intake if you have osteoarthritis: (1) Drinking liquor, wine, or beer will cause pain flare ups, and (2) its consumption can interfere with medications, making them less effective.
Here's a picture of the broccoli i'm growing in my garden. Isn't she gorgeous?
Healing is possible if people are willing to deepen beyond the physical symptoms and address the root causes and contributing factors that THEY are creating
Healing is possible if someone is willing to address the cluster of symptoms, understand their own creation and recognise and address the root causes that underlie a label such as osteoarthritis and fundamentally rewrite their identity and lifestyle.
This requires the earlier questions to be actively explored and addressed and change to be implemented consistently.
This leads to a profound shift in structure, spinal health, fluid flow regeneration and consciousness.
What clients say:
"I was born with Spinabifida. My disability has deteriorated significantly affecting my mental and physical wellbeing. I have two replacement knees and osteoarthritis in my hips. I've felt like a prisoner trapped in my own body. The last couple of years especially, have been overwhelming and exhausting.
My first session with Safa was unbelievable. It was transformational. Without touching my body she realigned my spine. She removed all blocks and debris that needed shifting in other parts of my body.
After our first session I could walk with so much more ease and there was no pain in my body! My body and spine feels so realigned. The difference is phenomenal.
I'm feeling so alive today. My husband was so happy to see the change in me. I can't wait for the second session."