Arthritis and joint pain affect millions of Americans annually. It causes chronic joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. The resulting pain and inflammation wreaks havoc on the body, alter one’s ability to carry out your daily activities, reduces joy, and over time cause depression. Knee and hip pain are among the most common types of pain for which people seek medical advice and treatment. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroid injections and surgery are the normal methods of treatment.
The inflammation response
Inflammation is a natural response your body has to stress, whether emotional or physical. The inflammation response helps protect the injured area and also to repair it. However, inflammation that does not resolve itself and becomes chronic is cause for concern, as it can cause serious health concerns and disease. Chronic inflammation breaks your body’s internal balance point, disrupts its ability to regulate the immune system and affects the functions of the central nervous system. As such, under the influence of chronic low-grade inflammation, you run a greater risk for pain, illness, disease, and accelerated signs and symptoms of aging. To reduce inflammation, most doctors resort to giving you a steroid injection. But a new study finds that corticosteroid shots may accelerate arthritis in knee and hip joints, even as it removes pain.
A recent study led by Ali Guermazi, M.D., Ph.D., professor of radiology and medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, found that corticosteroid injections may be associated with complications that potentially accelerate the destruction of the joint and may hasten the need for total hip and knee replacements.
In a review of existing literature on complications after treatment with corticosteroid injections, Dr. Guermazi and colleagues identified four main adverse findings: accelerated osteoarthritis progression with loss of the joint space, subchondral insufficiency fractures (stress fractures that occur beneath the cartilage), complications from osteonecrosis (death of bone tissue), and rapid joint destruction including bone loss. 1
1: Radiological Society of North America, Inc.
Inflammation and arthritis
As we age, most people will get some form of arthritis or wear and tear on their joints. It’s natural and normal. Among the most important components of any pain reduction program is reduction of inflammation. Chronic inflammatory conditions are among the biggest challenges a holistic practitioner faces. Even when patients are very compliant with dietary and lifestyle changes and take all the recommended supplements, inflammation is often stubbornly persistent. Resolving inflammation is not a passive process. Rather it is complex and highly active, and it happens slowly. Sometimes it even stalls. Inflammation can linger long after the acute phase of the injury or illness has passed. Without resolution, the body never truly returns to homeostasis—inflammation becomes chronic.
One of the most effective ways to treat inflammation naturally is the use of SPM’s. Specialized pro-resolving mediators, or SPMs, represent a portion of the omega-3 fatty acid spectrum that has a powerful effect on reducing inflammation. Fish oil probably helps relieve inflammation by providing the raw material to build SPMs, which are the end result of a multi-step conversion process. SPMs present us with an important new tool for regulating the inflammatory response. SPMs resolve inflammation very effectively, without compromising the immune response, and without risky side effects.
SPMs, which represent a super family of naturally occurring lipid mediators, play a crucial role in switching off the inflammatory response. SPMs do not block the initial inflammation phase. After all, inflammation is a desirable and natural response to injury and illness. Instead, when the immune response has served its purpose, SPMs down-regulate the process to resolve the inflammation.
Produced in the tissues around the affected area, SPMs function as “resolution agonists” targeting the immune cells that mediate the inflammatory response. By binding to specific cellular receptors, particularly the types known “G-protein coupled receptors,” SPMs modify cell behavior to promote resolution.
For occasional inflammation following injury or illness, a healthy individual may be able to produce enough SPMs to resolve the inflammation in a timely way. But with chronic inflammation, the body can’t produce enough SPM’s and the inflammation will be slow to resolve. It may linger on and become chronic. The protective effect of inflammation becomes destructive instead.
The SPMs known as lipoxins, resolvins, protectins, and maresins, are derived from arachidonic acid and omega-3 fatty acids. What SPMs do, in effect, is signal the immune system to stop actively responding to pro-inflammatory signals, and instead to accelerate the return to homeostasis. SPMs play a unique role in helping the body to shut down the immune response, inhibit additional inflammation, clear away the damaging byproducts of inflammation, and aid in tissue remodeling.
SPMs can facilitate the resolution even of prolonged or chronic inflammation. And once the SPMs have done their job, the body naturally breaks them down and eliminates them.
Natural Non-steroid Methods of Reducing Pain and Inflammation
Consider using the following supplements to help with pain and inflammation:
- Inflammatone. Inflammatone™ is a powerful formula that combines the best of science and enzyme technology for degrading fibrinolytic protein compounds produced during inflammation. This is achieved by the antioxidant action of turmeric, quercetin, rutin, rosemary, and resveratrol.
- Bromelain can be used to treat a number of conditions, but it is particularly effective in reducing inflammation from infection and injuries. Pineapple has been used for centuries in Central and South America to treat indigestion and reduce inflammation. Bromelain, which is derived from the stem and juice of the pineapple. A review of clinical studies found that bromelain’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties make it an effective treatment for the pain, soft tissue swelling, and joint stiffness associated with osteoarthritis.
- White Willow Forte. This is a unique blend of herbs, enzymes, and bioflavonoids intended to provide nutritive support for body comfort and antioxidant protection. Willow bark comes from the willow tree of the Salix species. The bark contains salicin, a compound similar to aspirin. Salicin is metabolized in the body to create salicylic acid, a precursor to aspirin. The herbal extract has long been used in native and folk medicine to relieve pain, inflammation, and fever.
- Ostinol Advanced. This supplement is the first, all-natural protein complex that has been shown to support optimal growth of new bone and cartilage tissue. It knocks down inflammation in as little as seven days.
- Phyto Ultra Comfort. This formula is designed to reduce occasional, minor pain by supporting healthy enzyme and immune mediator activities with the use of Willow Bark, Curcumin, and Devil’s Claw.
- SPM SELECT. A more direct and targeted way to raise SPM levels is to supplement with them directly. SPM supplements are now available, made from fish oil using a patented fractionation process to create an SPMs-enriched product. Recent research has shown that daily dosing with two to six soft gels over six weeks can reduce standard blood markers of inflammation such as CRP, interleukins, fibrinogen, and TNF-alpha. Because SPMs are naturally produced as a normal part of the inflammation resolution process, supplementation with these compounds will not suppress immunity. This makes them much safer than anti-inflammatory drugs such as glucocorticoids, methotrexate or even aspirin. SPMs supplements can be taken indefinitely. They have no known side effects or interactions with other supplements or drugs.
So if you suffer from pain and want to avoid taking pain medication or getting dangerous corticosteroid shots, give Doctor’s Nutrition a call at 1-800-824-0194 today, and we will discuss your natural options.