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The most common causes of joint pain is osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis (OA), a degenerative type of arthritis, develops when the linings of the joints wear down.  Although it’s associated with aging and injury (it used to be called “wear-and-tear” arthritis), its true cause remains unknown.  Generally, prolonged overuse of a joint is thought to be the most significant contributing factor to the development of arthritis.  Osteoarthritis is second only to cardiovascular diseases in causing long-term disability in the United States.  The hallmark of OA is the progressive erosion of articular cartilage.

The primary type of osteoarthritis is often found without an apparent initiating cause but often comes as part of aging.  Osteoarthritis usually affects only a few joints but in some cases, it may be generalized.  The knees and hands are more commonly affected in women and the hips in men.  It’s interesting that pneumatic hammer drillers (a jackhammer that uses compressed air) and long-distance running champions have no increase in osteoarthritis when compared with their peers of the same age and sex.

A principal mechanism of injury in osteoarthritis is the breakdown of cartilage such that the bones of a joint will rub together.  The joint then loses shape and alignment.  The bone ends thicken, forming bony outgrowths also known as bone spurs. Bits of cartilage or bone often “float” in the joint space, causing increased crepitus (cracking and popping sounds), possible increased pain, and often decreased the range of motion.


  • Tenderness and crepitus (popping) of joints progressing to decreased range of motion.
  • Deep, achy pain that worsens with use
  • Morning stiffness and limitation of range of movement
  • Muscle spasms and weakness
  • Loss of sensation
Causes:  Arthritis may begin developing in a persons 20’s but show no symptoms until the sixth decade.
  • Aging
  • Mechanical effects (wear-and-tear)
  • Genetic factors
  • Ligament laxity/ old injury
Example of Osteoarthritis Naturopathic Treatment:
  • Avoid Solanaceae foods (nightshades) -eggplant, tomato, green pepper, potato, paprika, cayenne, tobacco, all peppers. NOTE-It may take 4-6 weeks to clear out all of the solanacean compounds from the body.
  • Improve digestion and absorption of nutrients
  • Minerals: zinc, selenium, boron, calcium/magnesium if deficient
  • Vitamins: B6, niacinamide (form of B3), vitamins E and C
  • Herbs: curcumin, horsetail, boswellia, ginger (add to food)
  • Supplements: Glucosamine sulfate, Omnivite formula, yucca saponin extract, cod liver oil
  • Foods: raw honey, curry, antioxidant rich foods, decrease refined carbohydrates and sugar
  • Topical: arnica oil massaged into joint spaces, cayenne powder in a cream used topically, compounded pain formula specific for arthritis can be prescribed through your physician.
  • Hot Epsom salt compress followed by castor oil massage (not directly on joints, but around
  • Daily exercise (walking, cycling, yoga, etc.) prevents immobility
Note: A naturopathic physician will prescribe treatment specifically tailored to you based on your health history, current lifestyle, the severity of pain, and other factors.  Dr. Schulz has had a lot of success in treating patients with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Studies on Alternative therapies and Osteoarthritis

Glucosamine sulfate, a nutrient derived from sea shells, contains a building block needed for the repair of joint cartilage.  It may take three to eight weeks before benefits from glucosamine sulfate become evident, and continued supplementation is needed in order to maintain benefits.

It has been reported that people who have osteoarthritis and eat high levels of antioxidants in their diets exhibit a much slower rate of joint deterioration, particularly in the knees, than do people eating low levels of antioxidants.  The antioxidant vitamin E, for example, has been shown to reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Boron affects calcium metabolism, and a link between boron deficiency and arthritis has been suggested.

The omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, in fish oil have been used extensively for rheumatoid arthritis because of their anti-inflammatory effects, but they may also play a role in the inflammatory component of osteoarthritis.

Some people with osteoarthritis taking niacinamide (also called nicotinamide), a form of vitamin B3, find relief from symptoms such as increased joint mobility, improved muscle strength, and decreased fatigue.

Boswellia has unique anti-inflammatory action, much like the conventional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used by many for inflammatory conditions. But unlike NSAIDs, long-term use of boswellia does not lead to irritation or ulceration of the stomach.

The silicon content of horsetail is believed to exert a connective tissue strengthening and anti-arthritic action. White willow has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. Although the analgesic actions of willow are typically slow-acting, they last longer than standard aspirin products.


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