With the onset of winter chills - and I'd say they've come rather quickly this year - joint pain becomes more of a problem. I've had a few clients recently with joint pain and for the first time, after 20 years of practicing reflexology, I find that my fingers are sometimes a bit sore. So I decided to do a bit of research about osteoarthritis and here it is:
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) causes joints to feel stiff and painful. It's the most common form of arthritis and is more common in older people. Symptoms of OA can vary: joints, especially finger joints can become swollen and change shape; sometimes the joints make creaking or cracking noises; sometimes there is pain, but not always; sometimes moving the joint can be difficult; the joints can lose surrounding muscle and this can make them feel weaker. Almost all joints can develop osteoarthritis but the most common places are the fingers, thumbs, knees and hips as well as the low back and neck.
What causes osteoarthritis?
No-one knows exactly what causes osteoarthritis. It used to be called wear and teat and was thought to be part of the ageing process, but now it's thought that it may be due to: repeated small injuries that happen as part of daily life and which don’t heal completely; an after effect of sporting injuries; genetics (it can run in families); being overweight which puts extra strain on the weight-bearing joints, especially the knees and hips.
Inside the affected joints there is quite a lot of healing and repair going on: cartilage - which acts as a shock absorber - is lost and new bone is formed which can cause joints to change shape. This formation of new bone can contribute to some of the pain and stiffness.
Can we do anything about osteoarthritis?
I would highly recommend having a look at the Arthritis Research UK website, from which most of this information has been gleaned. I spent a lot of time looking at research papers, particularly for natural remedies for osteoarthritis and I have to say the Arthritis Research UK website provided the most complete and useful information for a non-scientific readership. The website provides information for Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. I'm disappointed to note that Reflexology is not one of their listed complementary therapies - it's my belief that the relaxation provided by Reflexology can help dampen down inflammation, relieve pain to some degree and stimulate the body's own healing resources.
From my research the following supplements may help:
Fish oil provides an anti-inflammatory effect which is well documented and provides benefits for osteoarthritis as well as supporting heart health. As part of my Reflexology continuous professional development I sat in on a nutrition webinar by Marilyn Glenville. Her professional view of supplements was to be very careful and do lots of research - fish oil quality can depend on the process of extraction, the type and part of fish used (fish liver is likely to be the most toxic part of the fish) and the quality control of the company. Also look out for the
GLA (y-Linolenic acid)
There is some evidence to suggest that Borage Seed Oil also helps fight inflammation and improve pain and swelling (https://academic.oup.com/rheumatology/article/42/5/652/1784589). This paper compiled the results of a number of studies to determine the benefits (or not) of a range of herbal remedies in treating Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Capsaicin is extracted from chilli peppers and can be effective in reducing pain and tenderness in affected joints. There seem to be no major side effects although when applied topically it can cause skin blisters and must be kept well away from eyes, mouth and open wounds to avoid irritation.. It's available on prescription in the form of gels, creams and plasters. Most trials have used either 0.025% or 0.075% of capsaicin gel applied to the skin four times a day.
S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is a chemical compound found naturally in your body and laboratory studies suggest that it has some painkilling activity and stimulates cartilage production. As yet there's insufficient research to be clear how SAMe works. It's available as a nutritional supplement, but mostly from US suppliers. Side-effects, which are usually mild and infrequent, include: nausea; restlessness; headaches; a dry mouth; stomach upsets.
SAMe can also increase the activity of antidepressants and severe side-effects of anxiety and mania have also been reported in people taking anti- depressants. People on anticoagulants, you should take SAMe under a doctor’s supervision because it might increase the risk of bleeding.
It's unclear what's the best dose of SAMe is, but most studies have used daily doses of 400–1,600 mg.
Indian frankincense is an Ayurvedic remedy that can be purchased over the counter in capsule form. It can prevent the production of inflammatory substances in the joints. Current evidence, based on four RCTs, suggests that it might have some beneficial effects in treating participants with osteoarthritis of the knee which might last for a period of time after treatment is stopped. It prevents the production of hormone-like substances in your body that act as triggers for joint inflammation.
Trials have used a daily dose of 1g which seems to be safe, but studies are not extensive and interactions with outer medications haven't been well studies. High doses have been shown to have a serious effect on the liver.
Frankincense can also be used topically by mixing the "pure essential oil" (ideally organic) with a carrier oil (jojoba) or unscented body lotion and rubbing it on the affected part to reduce pain and inflammation. But beware, essential oils can be extremely powerful and a little goes a long way. Frankincense oil can also be used in a bath. Frankincense oil should not be used by people taking anticoagulant medications and may cause minor skin rashes, nausea, stomach pains (and in my case too much gives me a headache).
If you're going to try any of these remedies, I'd strongly suggest you try them one at a time and do your research. Supplements vary in quality and efficacy - and of course price - and if you try more than one at a time and get a benefit (or no benefit) you'll not know which one worked or if they cancelled each other out. Most of these remedies have an anti-inflammatory effect and I don't know if too much anti-inflammatory is a bad thing.
This link provides more information about Capsaicin, SAMe and Frankincence:https://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/complementary-and-alternative-medicines/cam-report/complementary-medicines-for-osteoarthritis.aspx
And of course, I'd definitely recommend that you give Reflexology a try because you never know, although it's not listed in the research, it might just work for you! You can book a treatment here: http://www.lothianreflexology.co.uk/book-a-treatment.html
If you've never tried Reflexology and don't know what it is, here's a brief rundown:
What is Reflexology?
How does Reflexology work?
Reflexology uses finger pressure on the feet to relax and re-balance the whole person in mind, body and emotion. It works on the principle that various parts of the feet relate to corresponding parts of the body and that by working on the feet the Reflexologist can create a balancing effect. The finger pressure on the feet is firm, so it should not feel tickly.
Who can benefit from Reflexology?
Anyone can benefit from Reflexology: from newborn babies to those receiving end of life care, and anyone in between, but it is particularly beneficial for anyone who is experiencing ill-health and in particular those suffering from stress or stress related illnesses. There may however be times when it is not appropriate to provide a treatment, so if you're not sure, do ask.
Reflexologists often specialise in particular areas, such as: fertility, pregnancy, babies, children, ageing well, pain relief, sleep, stress, cancer care, and end of life care.
What happens in a Reflexology treatment?
The Reflexologist will take a few moments to gather information about the client's condition (it tends to take a bit longer for the first treatment), and then the client is made comfortable, lying on a special chair or massage table. It's possible to chat during the treatment, but it's more relaxing to just close your eyes and enjoy the experience. It's not uncommon for clients to drift off into a light doze.
How will I feel after a treatment?
Well, everyone is different, but generally clients will feel deeply relaxed after a treatment. Clients often report having had a good night's sleep and a boost in their energy levels after a treatment. Really the only way to know is to give the treatment a try.
There have been some positive research projects carried out with reflexology; however, as yet, there is not a large enough body of evidence to make clinical claims of effectiveness.
With ever increasing levels of stress in everyday life, it is important for people to take more responsibility for their own healthcare needs. Reflexology may be one of the ways to mitigate the stresses of modern life.
Reflexology should not be used as an alternative to seeking medical advice.
The only way to know if Reflexology will be beneficial for you is to give it a try. If you're ever feeling stressed or a bit out of sorts, think about having a Reflexology treatment to get you onto more of an even keel. To make the decision easier, I offer £5 off your first treatment. This applies to everyone, so you don't need a special voucher or ticket, it is just automatically applied when you pay for your treatment.
For July, I'm offering an extra £5 off to all new clients. That means you get £10 off your first treatment if you book in July. But this offer only applies to July 2014, so don't delay, book your treatment today by calling Doris on 07724 197627, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's not long until Mother's Day, and I'd like to ask; "Are you going to settle for the regular, boring gifts?" Will flowers and chocolates or a meal out (on one of the busiest days of the year) be the most your imagination will stretch to?
If you're struggling to think of something different to give your Mother, why not buy a gift voucher for a nice relaxing treatment of Reflexology, Indian Head Massage or Rejuvinating Facial Massage.
Not only will the treatments help your Mum feel good, they'll do her good. My Mum loves her treatments and at 85 she's still going strong, in fact, sometimes I think she's fitter than me.
Reflexology is a wonderful treatment for general well-being because it is holistic and relaxing and aims to bring the body back into balance. It leaves most clients feeling nice and relaxed, but also can help improve sleep, provide a light detox, give a gentle boost to energy levels and some clients find it helps reduce aches and pains. Reflexology uses finger pressure on the feet, so it's less personal and "touchy feely" than massage - perfect for those of us who are not keen on stripping off more than our socks and shoes!
Indian Head Massage is done over clothing and seated in a chair - again perfect for those of us who don't like stripping off or lying prone. It uses a variety of techniques to loosen tension in upper back, shoulders, neck, head and face. It is a gentle treatment which is extremely relaxing (I've had clients fall asleep).
Rejuvinating Facial Massage is a non-surgical treatment which uses specific massage techniques to brighten skin and improve elasticity. It is more vigorous than a beauty treatment and aims to lift and tone facial muscles and stimulate muscle memory. Although it is a more vigorous treatment, it is still very relaxing.
So, give your Mother something different this Mother's Day, give her a real treat! Book your gift voucher today by calling Doris Wylie on 07724 197627.