Understanding Joints, Joint Pain, and How You Can Heal Naturally
Nearly 1 in every 4 adult Americans suffers from arthritis, and many more are burdened by joint pain and inflammation in general. Joint pain and arthritis affect more than 55 million Americans.
Assistant Professor of Surgery Charles K.F.Chan, PhD explained why joint pain is so tricky to deal with: “Cartilage has practically zero regenerative potential in adulthood, so once it’s injured or gone, what can we do for patients has been very limited.”
Joint pain is also known as Arthralgia. It feels like a dull ache or a burning sensation around the joint area. Often, the pain starts after you have used the joint a lot or if you have injured the joint in some way. The most common symptom is inflammation. The area may be hot or warm and the skin may be red.
In this article, you will learn about joint healing, the most common joints that are injured, and natural ways to help heal your joints. We will also look at studies on a common question: Does glucosamine help joints heal and ensure overall joint health?
What is a joint?
According to Healthline, a joint is a point where two bones connect. More specifically, some define a joint as a point where bones connect for the purpose of moving body parts.
Within a joint, you have a cushion-like substance or a shock-absorber, which is known as Articular cartilage. This is a complex tissue that provides a bouncy cushion between bones that meet at the joint. When the cartilage has been damaged from trauma, disease, or thins out with age, the bones begin to rub against each other directly. This results in pain and inflammation and can eventually lead to arthritis.
How many types of joints are there in the human body?
Joints are categorized by the movement that they allow. There are three main types of joints.
- Synarthroses (Immovable)
These are fixed joints that are defined as two or more bones in close contact that have no movement. Your skull is an example of this. The joints between the plates of the skull are known as sutures.
- Amphiarthroses (Slightly moveable)
These are also known as cartilaginous joints and these joints are defined as two or more bones that are held so tightly together that only limited movement can take place. The vertebrae of the spine is an example.
- Diarthroses (freely moveable)
These are also known as synovial joints and they have synovial fluid which allows all parts of the joint to smoothly move against each other. These are the most common joints in your body and examples include your knee and shoulder joints.
How does a joint heal?
Evidence suggests that joint healing results from establishing a source of cells, normalizing joint pressures, and encouraging joint motion. The state of your cartilage is suggested to be the most important component of the joint healing process.
High-impact may increase the risk of degeneration of normal joints. Clinical and experimental work has shown the important influence of loading and motion on the healing of articular cartilage and joints. Understanding how a joint heals is not so simple, as there are a lot of factors that play a role, namely: Age, trauma caused, and underlying conditions.
If trauma to the joint is severe, surgery might be required to try and fix the cushion-like tissue to ensure that the bones do not rub against each other anymore.
Common joints that are injured
SI joint healing
Sacroiliac joint or SI joint is the type of joint that is filled with fluid (Synovial joint), and when the cartilage wears down, the bones rub together and cause pain. As we age, our bones become arthritic and our ligaments begin to stiffen. The pain can range from mild to severe depending on the cause and extent of the injury.
Acute SI joint pain occurs suddenly and can heal within several days to weeks. Chronic SI joint pain persists for more than 3 months. The pain can be felt all the time or worsen when certain movements and activities.
Other terms for Sacroiliac joint pain include:
- SI joint dysfunction
- SI joint syndrome
- SI joint strain
- SI joint inflammation
Research shows that about 15-30% of people have a problem with their SI joint. That is a lot of people who suffer, and the pain impacts their quality of life. This statistic indicates that SI joint pain imposes a large health burden.
AC joint healing
Acromioclavicular joint, or the AC joint, is at the end of your collar bone, which is near to your shoulder. This joint is made up of 4 ligaments that hold the collar bone to the shoulder blade. When you sprain this joint, the ligaments may be partly or fully torn. This can cause pain and swelling at the end of your collar bone. When the ligaments are torn completely, your collar bone will be raised.
There are 3 grades to an AC joint sprain:
- Grade one
Mild sprain with minor damage to the ligament. Your collar bone stays in place.
- Grade two
Moderate sprain whereby the ligaments are partially torn. Your collar bone is moved out of place and the injured shoulder might look lower and flatter than normal.
- Grade three
This is the most severe sprain wherein the ligaments are completely torn. The collar bone is no longer joined to the shoulder blade and the collar bone rises up. If not treated, the ligaments will heal in this position and cause long term negative effects.
An AC injury will take up to 6 weeks or longer to heal. It is often treated with a sling and tape or elastic wrap around your chest area to keep the joint in the correct place. The sling will also help to take pressure off the joint. Physical therapy will help the shoulder get back the full range of motion. Once the joint is healed, you can normally expect a full recovery of your shoulder function as long as there are no further complications in the healing process.
Natural ways to help joints heal
The natural healing foods and supplements we are going to share with you are not to replace medication or physical therapy that is given to you by your medical advisor. These are just extra natural tools that you can use to help you on your healing journey.
You should seek medical advice when:
- Your joint looks off balance
- You have increased pain, swelling and or bruising
- Your limbs become cold, blue, numb or tingly
- You have trouble moving your limb/joint due to stiffness
Joint healing foods
WebMD suggests adding these three foods into your diet to help with your overall joint health:
A 2019 study has shown that fresh cherries, as well as tart cherry juice, may curb inflammation.
- Red Peppers
Red peppers are high in Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps your body produce collagen, which is needed to help your cartilage, tendons and ligaments hold together.
- Canned Salmon
This has calcium and Vitamin D, which helps keep your bones strong. It is also high in Omega 3 which helps with inflammation as well.
It is suggested that you stay away from gluten. Refined carbohydrates drive up your body’s inflammatory response as the body processes them into sugar. You should also try to consume less sugar. As stated above, it causes inflammation in the body.
A study confirmed the link between added sugar and higher inflammatory markers, insulin resistance, and LDL cholesterol.
Joint healing supplements
There are a few supplements that you can take to help ensure healthy joints. WebMD recommends the following:
This supplement is often used with glucosamine as an osteoarthritis treatment. It has been found that this supplement appeared to reduce pain and increase joint mobility. The need for painkillers decreased when using this supplement.
It is important to note that not all doctors recommend the mixture of supplements, but they are not opposed to patients using them if they feel like they get relief from them.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Omega-3 is found in fish oil and other foods. It encourages your body to produce chemicals that help control inflammation. It can also help with joint stiffness.
This is the active ingredient in turmeric. It has natural anti-inflammatory properties. Adding curcumin to your diet can help you reduce inflammation in your joints.
Does glucosamine help joints heal and ensure overall joint health?
Glucosamine is a natural chemical compound that is found in your body. It helps keep your cartilage healthy. Even though glucosamine sulfate supplements are often made from the shells of shellfish, there are not any natural foods that you can consume that have a source of glucosamine.
Be aware: If you have a shellfish allergy or are allergic to sulphur, do not consume glucosamine supplements.
A 2012 study was conducted to study the effectiveness of glucosamine for joint pain. They concluded that glucosamine has low and rare adverse effects on the body. They also found that in some cases the treatment worked, and in others, the treatment failed. Therefore, there is not enough evidence to say that it definitely does or does not work.
To conclude, because a reaction is rare if you are not allergic to the shellfish, there is no harm in trying to see if the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin works for you. Speak to your doctor beforehand.
Joint pain can be debilitating and can impact your daily life. There are natural ways in which you can help manage the joint pain and get your life back.
Always remember, if you have a joint injury, you need to get it looked at by a medical professional. You want to make sure that you are not severely injured before you start your healing journey.
Natural ways to help heal your joints and ensure joint health are not meant as a cure, but are meant to help manage the symptoms in a holistic manner. They can also be used as a prevention. After all, preventing injury is better than a cure.
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