The term arthritis is used loosely as if it encompassed one entity, although over 100 types of the condition have been identified. It is an aggregate of illnesses whose common features include an inflammation of the joints, surrounding tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Among the oldest known afflictions of human beings, it can affect virtually every part of the body: from the feet to the knees, back, shoulders, and fingers. For millions of Americans, arthritis limits everyday movements such as walking, standing, or even holding a pencil. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the effects of arthritis range from slight pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints, to crippling and disability. Arthritis affects people of all ages. The NIH reports that about 15% of the U.S. population have arthritis or a related disorder and 200,000 children in the U.S. have some form of the disease.
Conventional medicine prescribes a whole “laundry list” of pharmaceutical drugs for treating it. Many of these drugs block the pain, often very quickly and with little effort on the part of the patients or doctors. While pain relief is important, conventional drugs merely hide the symptoms and ignore the underlying causes of the disease. According to the alternative medicine approach, arthritis is a disease that results from multiple causes, many of them with a less-than-obvious connection to the disease and many causes are not easily detectable. “A number of underlying imbalances, with accompanying physical, mental, and environmental factors, contribute to all forms of arthritis,” says Eugene Zampieron, N.D., A.H.G., of Woodbury, Connecticut, co-author of Arthritis: An Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide. “When arthritis is viewed through alternative medicine, it becomes a correctable disease that requires adjustments to specific organ systems, diet, and lifestyle.”
There are a variety of arthritic conditions, with the three most common forms of the disease being osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. Less prevalent types include psoriatic, ankylosing spondylitis, and infectious.
It is caused by a variety of factors, including joint instability, injuries, age-related changes, toxins, microbes, altered biochemistry, hormonal factors, and genetic predisposition. Yet other environmental, psychological, dietary, and even dental factors have also been found to bring on the condition.