Vancouver Naturopathic Doctor
Dr. Marni Ross, ND

Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Osteoarthritis, sometimes called degenerative joint disease is the most common form of arthritis. Over time, this condition produces a gradual, age-related deterioration of joint cartilage (the smooth, gel-like cushion between bones that reduces friction and absorbs shock). As the disease progresses and the cartilage continues to break down, exposed bone ends rub together and may develop growths, called spurs. When you move the joint, the spurs grind against each other causing pain and joint instability. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, but it is most common in the fingers, knees, ankles and feet, hips, neck, and spine.

Symptoms include:
  • Joint stiffness and pain (especially in the morning or after exercise)
  • Limited movement and loss of flexibility in affected joints
  • Joint pain made worse by movement and relieved by rest 

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic disorder that causes inflammation and eventual destruction of the cartilage and other tissues in and around the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is classified as an autoimmune disease because it causes the immune system, which normally protects the body, to begin to attack normal tissues instead. In addition to joints, RA can affect the skin, eyes, blood vessels, heart, lungs, kidneys, and muscles. Unlike osteoarthritis, RA occurs most often in younger people, usually between the ages of 20 and 50. Women are three times more likely than men to develop the disease, which now affects 1% to 2% of Americans.

Symptoms include:

  • Swollen, red, and painful joints, most often the fingers, wrists, knees, ankles, and toes, on both sides of the body
  • Joints that are tender and warm to the touch.

Goals of Naturopathic Treatment:

  • Correct body chemistry in order to slow down or reverse the disease process
  • Eliminate toxins in order to speed and repair healing
  • Replenish any nutrient deficiencies (especially when patient is taking medications for rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Address pain through anti-inflammatory diets and herbal/nutritional supplements
  • Determine any underlying food sensitivities as eating foods that your body is reacting to can contribute to overall inflammation