As in the traditional medical world, the appropriate naturopathic treatment will depend on the severity of the case.
I’ll always start by removing refined sugar and adding fish oils. Fish oils are anti-inflammatory, and they actually work via a similar mechanism to aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen, but without suppression. (For those who care: ibuprofen and similar medications block the production of a certain inflammatory substance in the body called prostaglandins, while fish oil will simply shift the body’s ratio in favor of a different, anti-inflammatory prostaglandin.) In milder cases of OA, most patients will experience significant improvement in a month or so, just with this. (But if you try this at home, let me warn you that you must a) READ LABELS, because there’s sugar hidden in just about everything, and you’ve really got to avoid all of it for this to work, and b) get a high quality fish oil – they’re not all created equal.)
Depending on the patient, certain foods may aggravate the condition as well, especially if there are any food sensitivities involved. I also strongly agree with my MD/DO colleagues that non-weight-bearing exercise is incredibly important, as is weight loss, range of motion exercises, and in certain cases, occupational or physical therapy.
In addition to an excellent fish oil, I also frequently prescribe a number of botanicals and supplements as building blocks for cartilage, including but not limited to glucosamine and chondroitin, as well as other anti-inflammatory measures if the situation requires it. Some of these include hydrotherapy techniques to increase local blood flow to the joint.
For more severe cases that aren’t quite to the point of surgery, I often refer for acupuncture or prolotherapy. The latter involves an injection into the joint space of dextrose, saline, and a few other components depending on the practitioner, designed to create a local “irritation” in order to induce the body to build new cartilage.
In short: it doesn’t have to be “all downhill from here.” Let’s reverse the process! Call for an appointment.