If you are over 50, chances are you may be suffering from some type of joint pain. In fact, 50 million American adults have inflammatory arthritis, a degenerative joint condition leading to joint stiffness in the morning, pain with exercise, loss of range of motion, and inability to perform activities of daily living – getting dressed , brushing hair, etc. without discomfort. Or you may find you have a difficult time getting on the floor to play with your kids or grand-kids, to garden or do simple chores.
You may have been told that it’s due to OLD AGE, and that’s how it goes. But why is it that some people enjoy exercising and other activities well into their senior years without PAIN? A very small percent has to do with genetics, but what is really true is that your LIFESTYLE dictates how you age, in that what you do throughout your life does matter. People can live well into their 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s enjoying physical activity and strength – sometimes even more than some in their 40’s.
As you age, your body produces less Collagen, Hyaluronic acid and Hydrochloric acid. How do these affect your joints? Collagen is an abundant animal protein essential to promoting adequate hair, skin, nails, cartilage and bone growth. Hyaluronic acid is lubricating fluid made by the body and is found in highest concentration in eyes and joints. Hydrochloric (HCL) acid is made by the parietal cells in the stomach and helps with proper digestion and breakdown of proteins. If you don’t have enough of each of these, your health will deteriorate.
People with inflammatory arthritis have higher rates of abdominal pain, trouble swallowing and nausea. The connection between digestion and joint pain is inflammation triggered by changes in stomach acid. How do you promote healthy gut function so you can reduce joint pain? Diet. Avoid pro-inflammatory foods such as GMO- grains, commercial vegetable oils, fried foods, pesticides, excess alcohol, artificial sweeteners, sugary foods.
Other lifestyle changes that can affect your joints and help reduce pain are:
- STOP smoking
- maintain a decent WEIGHT as obesity adds undo stress to joints
- avoid NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) and steroids as these medications reduce compounds called prostaglandins, which protect the lining of the stomach. When the lining of the stomach is exposed to stomach acid, irritation or ulcers can develop. The answer is NOT taking an antacid medication.
- Move more- this may seem antithetical but in fact, joints need movement to get blood flow to them
- Watch your POSTURE- avoid the wallet in the back pocket, sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees, don’t slouch
- Take vitamin D3 and calcium -rich foods such as leafy and dark green vegetables and organic, grass-fed whole dairy products
- Use natural “rubs’ and topical analgesics with Arnica, CBD oil, Camphor, Peppermint essential oil
- Take Digestive Enzymes
- Do exercises that engage your lower abs, posterior chain muscles (back)
- Visit your chiropractor for evaluation and hip/low back and spine supportive care