by Katherine Willow, ND

Joint pain comes in a lot of varieties: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune disorders, etc.  The first thing to do is to understand the causes, asking questions about lifestyle, emotional trauma and previous symptoms and illnesses.

Lab tests and a physical exam help to fine tune our understanding of which organ systems are involved.  Food sensitivity testing, metabolic testing and hair analysis determine if there is an issue with food, digestion and minerals.  Once the causes are laid out in front of us, the cure becomes obvious.  Let’s look at some common patterns of joint pain.

Fortunately, the most common pattern is also the easiest to treat, when the body is in a state of irritation with multiple food sensitivities and a congested  liver and digestive system, but otherwise in a generally healthy state.  For these vital people, a program of cleansing and rebalancing the diet is usually enough to resolve joint pain and allow people to wean off any medications they are on.

A typical program might look like this:

  • Take out the most irritating foods as identified by a Biotron test or by common sense (ie wheat, sugar, dairy, alcohol, nightshade family — tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers, junk food, processed food and foods we are addicted to and ‘can’t live without’).
  • Add in a healthy dose of veggies, clean proteins (vegetarian usually best, fish, organic poultry), clean carbs (rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa) and cold-pressed oils and organic butter.
  • Add in fibre to move the colon, digestive enzymes to re-inspire digestion and essential fatty acids to decrease the inflammatory process.
  • Drink water according to body type (I use the Ayurvedic system and recommend the book Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra as a guide.)

This usually cures joint pain within 3 months if not sooner.

Other patterns and their treatment include:

  • low adrenal glands, as the adrenals produce our own anti-inflammatory chemicals; treatment involves rest, avoiding caffeine and supplements and herbs that support the adrenals
  • liver deficiency, where the liver needs to be rebuilt before it can function properly to cleanse the body
  • structural imbalances which stress joints can be treated with bodywork including osteopathy, craniosacral therapy, massage, physiotherapy and specific exercises; movement in general helps joint pain
  • emotional trauma, specifically devaluation shocks; German New Medicine tells us that the location of the pain is a clue to the type of devaluation we have experienced ie hands for performance, hips for sexuality, neck for our intellect, back for lack of support, legs for athletic ability, and so on.  More interesting is that if the joint pain is related to an emotional trauma, this means that the trauma has basically been resolved but is continually re-triggered, something we call a hanging healing.  In the optimal situation, the pain only lasts 6-8 weeks and is part of a repair process!
  • nutritional deficiencies need to be identified and corrected
  • environmental exposure to toxins needs to be explored and cleaned up

Joint pain is one of the easiest conditions to treat with natural medicine.  There are hundreds of specific therapies which can be matched to individual cases, including homeopathic remedies and acupuncture.  Please persist even if your medical doctor tells you there is no cure and that you need to be on medication for life!