When I used to think of arthritis and joint pain, my mind would drift towards the elderly, who have a propensity for the debilitating effects of limited, stiff, and painful movement. But when I was in my early fifties, I suddenly found myself facing some intense joint pain, specifically on the right side of my body.
A person can acquire degenerating bone and joint discomfort at any age, be it through genetic, hereditary, or simply by neglecting self-care. Arthritis (or osteoarthritis) is more common than we think. It often begins with the fingers, then migrates to the hips, toes, knees, elbows, then possibly settles in the shoulders and lower back. When it comes to a conquest of the joints, arthritis knows no boundaries.
It would be easy to deduce most arthritis symptoms as a result of unused muscular structure, and in some cases that is true. But, the latest buzz is about how most types of illness and disease result from locked up emotions — with arthritis being one of the most inflammatory ailments of all.
The Debilitating Progression
My arthritis symptoms first started in my wrist, so I thought it was carpal tunnel syndrome from writing too much and walking dogs, combined with a lack of proper nutritional support. Then, certain toes started to ache and swell; I attributed that to the lots of running I’d done over the years, old shoes, and being on my feet for way too many hours a day.
Then, I noticed that my right kneecap looked much larger than my left, was super painful when I sat in lotus position, and felt like it was in need of some sort of draining.
Since I was in denial, I kept running and doing the yoga poses with compromised knee positions, both of which didn’t help. I was wearing a brace on my wrist, but that didn’t help much. I’d writhe in pain in most lunge positions. I’d grimace in pain anytime I had to stand and put more pressure on my toes. It was all very discouraging.
I’d referred to Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life, many times to help my mom when she had health conditions. It includes an informative list depicting how specific illnesses match to certain areas of the body, and correlates this to possible emotions that can be causing the pain or bodily malfunction.
Hay explains how this can result in avoidance of issues deep within. She breaks down each disease, muscle ache, or bodily illness, and offers up a specific meditative healing phrase for each ailment from A to Z, to assist in the release of the emotional attachment with that particular body part.
She affirms that it will only work if you believe that the power of the mind and intention has complete access to the body and its function and ability to heal.
One morning, it hit me that it was time I used Louise Hay’s healing book myself. It finally made some sense. I’d been undergoing a significant amount of emotional pain and confusion the past few months, purging stuff hidden in corners of my body, growing and learning new ways of being, and my body was absorbing every ounce of all of these feelings.
The stagnation in my body — in the form of arthritis and joint debilitation was a sign that I had more work to do — the internal kind. Needless to say, it wasn’t the most awesome of times, but I wasn’t going to give up.
I felt it was time for some kind of release of major emotional stress that might have been stored in my bones — the repressed feelings that I normally dismiss and never visit at all. You know, the shadowed state we need to truly enter to get rid of old gunk from the past. I didn’t necessarily have a shouting match session with my pillow or lash out at anyone (so not my style), but I was able to maintain boundaries with people stronger than myself and be firm, cry a lot, stay focused on my path (when it would have been easier to cave), air out any discord with friends through apologies and forgiveness, and continue to show compassion and kindness.
I spent time going over every emotion that I usually repress. As I revisited and explored that feeling, I took it under my wing and re-lived the ache associated with it, then let it go.
Helpful Diet Switches and Supplements
Along with all the emotional work I was doing, I did some research and discovered diet options and supplements that also helped alleviate my arthritis symptoms. I incorporated anti-inflammatory beet juice and cayenne pepper into my daily diet. I drink gulps of beet juice before I go to bed, which turns my urine red, but has such strong results it’s worth it. With respect to cayenne pepper, I add enough sprinkles of it to just about every dish I create. Sometimes I go overboard, but again, it’s worth it because I noticed how differently my body began to move through this dietary addition.
I began taking a glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM combo supplement, 1000 mg of each. I also took a fish oil supplement for awhile, but then I realized it’d be more beneficial to get Omega-3 directly from my diet, so I beefed up on walnuts and other naturally occurring food sources of the supplement.
After being disciplined with these life changes and my emotional purge, the pain began to dissipate in my wrist and knee. Although it still isn’t 100 percent yet, just being open and letting it all out has alleviated so much of my joint pain.
I am back to my yoga practice, run when I feel like it, and do strength training when I’m in the mood. I think my knee cap and wrist and toes are all doing a happy dance!
It is known that arthritis not only affects the joints in a very intrusive and demanding way, but it can also affect your mood. Most people who suffer from joint pain become very depressed because of the changes happening in their bodies. There is a feeling of lack of being able to perform basic tasks. Everyday movements require more thought and care. Chores that were normally routine become something you either have to plan for or ask for assistance with. Thus, arthritis, which can stem from emotional pain, often triggers more of it, as well. It is a vicious cycle.
Moving The Pain
Working out is a very important element of healing arthritis symptoms. When you are in pain, you hesitate to move much. But it is precisely the insufferable pain that needs to be moved out of the body through exercises which strengthen the joints, ligaments, muscle fibers, and everything between (such as weight training, running, etc). When coupled with deep emotional purging, which also moves the pain out of the body, the mood lightens considerably. It’s possible to move the pain in both ways by physical activities that engage spirituality, such as going for a walk or hike outdoors, practicing yoga and deep breathing exercises, building healthy connections, doing heart-filled activities, and being of service and giving to others.
It is such a win/win with exercise helping the bones and joints, but also healing the heart and those feelings of not being your usual, agile self. When I was undergoing intense arthritis pain, I had to muster up a great deal of energy just to feel better and even brush my teeth normally without retching in pain from a simple wrist action. So, I clearly wasn’t in cheerful spirits.
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So many of my symptoms have been alleviated through my emotional work and diet change, it’s uncanny. If you have any chronic pain, or even acute pain anywhere in the body, it is a good idea to check in with your emotional state. Chances are, most of the underlying pain originates with what is going on in your heart and soul.
Make sure you have the necessary tools to navigate your way into better emotional health through meditation, release, and positive thinking. It is important to honor your feelings. They represent the essence of who you really are, so denying your deep extensive emotions might possibly lead to joint pain and affliction somewhere in the body. Take care of yourself with love!
Gerry Ellen is an author, freelance writer, creative storyteller, and wellness advocate. She enjoys sharing her experiences of nature and outdoor adventuring, creating art with shells and stones, and the simplicity of life through words and images. Her service work, 8 Paws Wellness with her dog Scout, is the epicenter of her world. She has been a contributing writer for elephant journal, Meet Mindful, Light Workers World, Rebelle Society, The Tattooed Buddha and Be You Media Group. Gerry Ellen has also authored and published two books, Ripple Effects (March 2012) and A Big Piece of Driftwood (April 2014), which are both available on Amazon.com.
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