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Is It Really Arthritis? Understanding Your Joint Pain

Friday, May 24, 2024

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Is It Really Arthritis? Understanding Your Joint Pain

(a definition I found online)

​Arthritis is a broad term that refers to inflammation of the joints. The symptoms of inflammation can vary depending on the underlying cause and the part of the body affected. Common signs of inflammation include:

- Redness: Increased blood flow to the affected area causes it to appear red.
- Heat: The area may feel warm to the touch due to increased blood flow.
- Swelling: Accumulation of fluid in the tissues leads to swelling.
- Pain: The inflamed area is often painful due to the release of chemicals that stimulate nerve endings.

However, if your doctor diagnoses you with conditions like medial epicondylitis (golfer's elbow), lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), plantar fasciitis, or De Quervain's tenosynovitis, it’s important to critically assess whether inflammation is truly present. Do you experience redness, heat, or swelling? Or do you only feel pain when performing specific movements, such as shoulder pain when raising your arm high or knee pain when squatting to a certain point?

If you do not exhibit the classical signs of inflammation, then it is not accurate to label these conditions as arthritis. True inflammation involves the immune system, so if there is no immune response, the issue likely lies elsewhere.

Understanding Pain and Its Origins

To understand why you experience pain during specific movements, it’s crucial to comprehend the nature of pain itself. Consider this analogy: if you accidentally slice your fingertip while cutting tomatoes, your immediate reaction is to pull your hand back to avoid further injury. Pain serves as a warning mechanism, alerting you to potential danger and prompting you to take action to prevent additional harm.

In this context, pain is beneficial—it prevents further damage. When you feel pain while lifting your arm or bending your knee, it’s because the mechanical pressure on the muscle has increased beyond what your body can tolerate. This could result from muscle overstretching or over-compressing, such as enduring a hard-core style massage.

Muscles are attached to bones, and overusing certain muscle groups can cause them to become tight and shorter, altering the relative position of the bones. Conversely, changes in bone position can affect muscle tension, creating a cycle where some muscle groups become tighter while others are overstretched.

Typically, you won’t feel pain in shortened and inhibited muscles because the mechanical tension is not high enough to cause damage. In contrast, overstretched muscles are more likely to cause pain. For example, if you stretch your hamstring beyond its normal range, you will likely experience discomfort or pain.

Understanding Muscle Groups and Joints

A muscle is always attached to different bones, and achieving full range of motion requires multiple muscle groups working together. A joint, where two bones connect, is controlled by several different muscle groups pulling from various directions.

When there is an imbalance or misalignment in these muscle groups, it can lead to abnormal stress on the joints and bones, causing pain. For example, if certain muscle groups become tight and shorter due to overuse, they can alter the position of the bones they are attached to. Conversely, changes in bone position can affect muscle tension, creating a cycle where some muscle groups become tighter while others are overstretched.

The Role of Misalignment in Pain

So when muscles are overstretched due to misaligned structures or local overuse, they create abnormal stress on the joints and bones.

​This leads to pain, as the body signals that something is wrong. For instance, shoulder pain often results from the shoulder blades sliding away from the thorax. This misalignment can be caused by two main factors: tight forearms pulling the shoulder blades away, or a rotated lower body rotating the thorax and pulling it away from the shoulder blades. Identifying the root cause of the misalignment is crucial for effective treatment, rather than simply addressing the symptoms with foam rolling, massage, stretching, or local manipulation.

Conclusion

Many conditions commonly diagnosed as arthritis may not involve inflammation at all. Instead, they result from misalignments and imbalances within the whole body. By addressing these imbalances and restoring proper alignment, it should alleviate pain and improve function without targeting inflammation.

Understanding the complex interplay between pain and body alignment is crucial for identifying the true source of pain and developing effective treatment strategies.

Treating pain caused by misalignment with approaches focused only on pain relief, such as stretching, taking painkillers, or using temporary fixes like foam rolling and massage, will not address the underlying issue and can potentially worsen the body's condition.

By focusing on correcting misalignments and imbalances, we can achieve long-term pain relief and improved overall function.

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Hi, I Am Gaby

Head Coach of Venus Weightlifting

Greetings! I'm Gaby, Head Coach of Venus Weightlifting club, the first of its kind in China. Curious how weightlifting can advance without exhaustive efforts and stiff bodies? I've unraveled this secret by integrating Chinese medical training and my innovative BAT (Body Alignment Training), catapulting thousands to their personal bests.
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