Joint pain and discomfort is one of the most common health concerns today. Millions of dollars per year are spent on treatment, medications and over-the-counter interventions. There are numerous causes for joint issues — disease, accident, stress-injuries from overexertion, environmental, even nutrition and diet.
Most people have little knowledge about how their joints work, nor do they understand the mechanism behind joint pain and inflammation. This article offers a basic overview of joints, including joint pain and inflammation. It also clarifies how an herb like Solomon’s Seal works to treat joint issues and to optimize their health.
Imagine your body without joints — remove all joints from toes, ankles, knees, hips, fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and neck. The result is that you would simply be a stiff stick figure that could not bend, rotate, properly walk, run, sit, or function in most human ways. To understand the mystery of joints is really quite simple: a joint is formed when two bones meet. Similarly, the mechanics of joint function is simple: ligaments, tendons, bursae, cartilage and synovium all work together as a system to seamlessly give flexibility. We can call this the joint system. It is this joint system that gives us movement and range of motion.
There are three categories of joints classified by the amount of movement they allow: fibrous joints which allow no movement, cartilaginous joints which allow limited movement (as in spine and ribs), and synovial joints which are free-moving (the most common type of joint in the body).
All joint issues are a result of a breakdown or dysfunction of one or multiple parts of the joint system that prevent basic movement. This article will help you know your joint system, and especially the unique way in which the herb Solomon’s Seal can help with joint issues.
Types of Joints
There are various types of joints: fixed, hinge, pivot, ball and socket, gliding, saddle, and condyloid. The joint, remember, is a result of two bones meeting.
- A fixed joint (i.e. fibrous joint) would be in the skull, pelvis and vetebrae — the skull plates don’t move together or against each other, but they are connected or fused.
- A hinge joint (also called a ginglymus, and classified as a synovial joint), is a joint that allows only backward and forward range of motion. Hinge joints are so named because they resemble hinges, like one might find on a door. Some familiar examples of hinge joints are the elbow, which joins the humerous with the ulna, and the knee, which joins the femur with the tibia. Like a door, these joints can move back and forth, but cannot swivel or move in any other directions. Though ginglymi only move on one plane, they allow a very large range of movement on that plane, which is why they are found in the limbs.
- A pivot joint, also known as a rotary joint, is a type of synovial joint in which a circular bone rotates, spins and twists upon the axis of another bone. There are only three pivot joints in the human body: one in the neck at the base of the skull (allowing back-and-forth and side-to-side movement), and one in the radius part of each elbow.
A ball and socket joint (a type of synovial joint) allows the greatest range of motion. These joints are present where one bone ends with a spherical knob that lies in a circular depression in the other bone. This arrangement theoretically allows for 360 degrees of rotation — in other words, a full circle. Each shoulder has a ball and socket joint where the upper arm meets the shoulder blade The hips also have a ball and socket joint on either side, where the femur meets the pelvic bone.
- A gliding joint allows bones to glide past each other. There are gliding joints in your ankles, wrists and spine.
- A saddle joint allows for back and forth and side to side motion but limited rotation. There is a saddle joint in the thumb.
- A condyloid joint allows movement but no rotation, as in the jaw and fingers.
Ligaments and Tendons
Bones are connected to one another by strong flexible bands called ligaments. Very little red blood cells are in ligaments, therefore, when injury occurs (like a torn or stretched/loose ligament), recovery can be long with very careful convalescence recommended. This is because the restorative function of red blood cells cannot fully function in such deprived tissues.
Muscles, which provide the pulling force to move the joints, are attached to the bones by tough fibrous tendons (sinew). Tendons have more red blood cells, therefore, they can more easily recover from injury, such as a torn or stretched tendon.
Both the ligaments and tendons are housed in protective mucous sheaths that allow their use and contraction. The inflammation of these sheaths is common, for example, in hand and wrist injuries and pain.
The Role of Bursae, Cartilage and Synovium in the Joint System
Various tissues and fluids both within and outside of the joint serve as packing and reduce friction between all the moving parts — bones, ligaments and tendons.
A healthy joint is surrounded by a joint capsule, and between the muscles and the joint capsule lie protective fluid-filled pockets called bursae.
Within a joint capsule, the bones are protected from wear and tear by a pliable lining made up of cartilage, a smooth sheet-like coating that allows bones to move directly over each other.
The synovium, is more like a cushiony “inner-tube” that protects and lubricates the joint surfaces as well as brings nourishment to the surrounding tissues.
If something happens to just one aspect of the joint, it can lead you to experience pain.
Joint Pain and Inflammation
Our body has an internal “fire” of metabolism within the immune system that has the dual power to heal or cause pain. Inflammation can be likened to a burner on a gas stove. A local injury or infection alarms the body to turn the flame up and rally white blood cells, and later red blood cells, to the area of injury. A systemic or chronic inflammation, triggers the body to “keep the burner on simmer,” even when not suffering an injury, or long after the acute phase is over. This slow burn has been associated with a range of health conditions and degenerative diseases, including asthma, allergies, skin problems, insulin resistance, irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and arthritis.
Most forms of joint pain involve some kind of inflammation — either local or systemic. When injured, a chain of events in your immune system known as the inflammatory cascade is triggered. In a careful balance of give and take, this process starts with pro-inflammatory hormones calling out for white blood cells to clean up damaged tissue and clear out infection. This is what causes the redness, swelling and pain we often see with injury.
Next, anti-inflammatory compounds take over to heal the area once the threat is diminished. When this process, known as local or acute inflammation, waxes and wanes in response to injury it’s a sign of a healthy immune system. Yet when the symptoms of inflammation don’t disappear, it is saying that your immune system is unable to turn itself off when it should.
In terms of our joints, pain stemming from an injury or even short-term overuse can set off localized inflammation in the cartilage, tendons, or bursae. As the injury heals, players in your inflammatory cascade will perform their tasks and disappear. If the inflammation persists it can lead to a more chronic condition.
Future articles in this series will look at specific ways in which diet and food preferences play a key role in controlling or enhancing inflammation.
How Solomon’s Seal May Help the Joint System
People are often advised to take medications and over-the-counter pain relief aid (called NSAIDs, such as aspirin, etc.) to deal with joint pain and inflammation. Other strategies include rest, immobilization, support aids, heat or cold presses, liniments, salves and the like.
Numerous herbs can also provide relief, one being Solomon’s Seal. We have extensively discussed the usefulness of Solomon’s Seal in other articles on this blog, and our our website, www.solomonsseal.net. The plant’s diverse healing ability may serve to do the following, all of which involve some aspect of inflammation or discomfort.
- Rebuild damaged cartilage & connecting tissue
- Reduce inflammation and speeds healing of bruises, wounds and skin irritations
- Hasten recovery from bone injuries (broken, stressed, osteoarthritis) and associated connective tissues, including arthritis
- Produce synovial fluid to joints, bursae and synovium
- Tighten or loosen (as needed) tendons, ligaments, joints & attachments associated with repetitive stress, injury & inflammation
- Soothe gastrointestinal inflammation and injuries
- Loosen mucous in lungs
- Regulate blood pressure
- Treat and relieve women’s issues
Solomon’s Seal can be used as a tincture, salve, liniment and tea. We have carefully formulated such products to create a very effective interventive approach, as discussed in the 3-Step Method below.
THE 3-STEP METHOD:
COMBINING A LINIMENT, SALVE & TINCTURE FOR DEEP HEALING
When using herbal interventions or products such as a tincture, salve or liniment, we believe that a 3-Step Method is the best way to address many of the types of acute and chronic injuries mentioned above. (Note: This approach should never take the place of other practical strategies such as rest, support or elevation of injury, increasing water intake, adjustment of diet and nutrition, etc.)
Apply Cortesia Quick-Relief Liniment topically several times daily, as needed, in area(s) where pain or discomfort is occurring. Apply morning, afternoon, and evening OR before and after periods of activity and again before bed. This will provide short-term relief so that certain activities are less painful or so that you can get to sleep. It is important to firmly rub the liniment for several minutes to stimulate blood circulation in the effected tissue or joint area. This works very well for arthritic conditions or joint issues to increase flexibility. Of course, use lighter pressure for a sprain, bruise, very sore muscle, or painful area. For detailed information about the effectiveness of liniments, see our two articles on this Blog and our website: www.solomonsseal.net.
Apply Cortesia Acute and Chronic Injury Salve externally to injured area twice daily, morning and evening (apply after the liniment). Wrap or bandage as needed to protect clothing. This is an important long-term method of healing for strains, sprains, aches, symptoms of arthritis, damaged muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, etc. It perfectly compliments the liniment.
Note: After applying a liniment or salve, it is very useful to simply lay your hand(s) lightly over the affected area for a few minutes. This form of “touch healing therapy” is therapeutic (see our article Solomon’s Seal and the Healing Effects of Touch to understand more). You can feel the warm or cooling sensation of your injury; you can also mentally visualize healing currents.
Consider taking Cortesia Solomon’s Seal Tincture internally several times daily. Solomon’s Seal works to harmonize, feed, lubricate, and tighten or loosen (as needed) tendons, ligaments, muscles, attachments, and joints. It is a valuable connective tissue anti-inflammatory, and is known to help moderate the symptoms of osteoarthritis, repetitive use injuries, and connective tissue damage. Depending on your injury or condition, one of our Solomon’s Seal Formulas (described elsewhere on this site) may be appropriate — for example, the #1 Arthritis & Joint Repair, the #2 Bone-Building & Bone Repair, the #3 Cartilage & Tissue Repair, the #4 Pain & Tension Relief, or the #6 All-in-One Deep Healing Formula.
Please visit our website, www.solomonsseal.net, for product ordering information and details.
Useful Articles on this Blog
Treating Bursitis with Solomon’s Seal
There are several articles on this blog about various bursitis conditions (elbow, knee, shoulder)
Healing Texting, Thumb and Repititive Stress Injuries with Solomon’s Seal
There are several articles on this blog about hand and thumb injuries