Joint pain Part 1: Where it comes from

People come into my office for a variety of reasons, but joint pain is definitely top of the list (Ok so maybe Osteopathy has something to do with bones). But the question we must always ask is why? Did it come from trauma? Was it repetitive strain from holding a posture too long, or doing too much of an exercise/activity? Maybe it’s something affecting your circulation, or something missing from the blood that is degrading your joints a little too quickly.

Question 1: Is the pain widespread or local to certain joints?
Inflammatory diseases that affect joints can often be looped back to poor blood quality, which means my concern shifts to how well your ribs move (breathing), or any restrictions in the abdominal organs that are impacting your digestion. Alternatively, seeing a Naturopathic doctor is a great tool in these conditions to examine what else you can do to improve the quality of your blood and help your organs support your joint health.

Question 2: Was there any direct trauma to the area?
When a pain is more local, I need to know if there was any direct trauma to the area, even if it was a long time ago. The body will often act to protect and tighten a region even long after the healing is done. This creates restrictions to blood flow, affecting the health of the joints and the nerves that pass through the region. Once we relax the nerves protecting the region, we can then act to put that joint through normal motion. In essence, we teach the body that normal motion in the area is now “safe”.

However, if there is no history of trauma to the area, it is often created by strain placed on it by somewhere else. Hips, knees and foot problems are often created when the body above it is limited in motion. We may see our feet turned too far in/out when we walk (just take a look at your footprints after walking in snow). To me this is a ticking time bomb as to when the knees or hips are going to go out. Another possibility is referred pain. This often happens during sleep/down time, when our body processes signals from other areas of the body than just our muscles and joints. An example would be mid or low back pain when resting in a certain position, which may indicate problems in the environment of the kidney. Severe pain that comes on without any sort of physical trauma should be brought immediately to hospital, not to my office.

The body is made to heal. Oftentimes the only thing holding us back from better health is our unwillingness to confront what brought us there in the first place. So never be afraid to seek out professional help. We must put joints and our bodies in a position to succeed or they will fail us. But once that is accomplished, what can we do to help keep our joints healthy and well?

We’ll examine activities we can incorporate into our routine to help our joints next month in part 2.