According to the Osteoporosis Explained website (https://osteoporosisxplained.com.au), more than 4.7 million Australians over 50 are affected by osteoporosis and osteopenia! (1)
Over the past couple of years I have seen quite a number of relatively young people (as young as mid 20s to early 30s) who have moderate to severe cases of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, so it got me thinking about what this condition is telling us about our health, our environment and life.
Let’s just have some quick definitions before we go on.
Osteopenia, mentioned in the statistic above, is a condition where more bone is lost than built and may be called “pre-osteoporosis”, but may not necessarily lead to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis (OP) is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from sneezing or minor bumps. Osteoporosis means “porous bone”. Causes of OP in younger people are likely to be explained by the medical profession as poor nutrition, so it may be seen after anorexia, certain chronic health conditions, certain medications and inadequate calcium intake, and generally supplements are given along with dietary and lifestyle advice.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is an inflammatory condition that affects the whole joint including bone, cartilage, ligaments and muscles and is often described as ‘wear and tear’ because it occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints wears away. Sports injury may lead to osteoarthritis in adults of any age. Common contributing injuries would include torn cartilage, dislocated joints and ligament injuries. Sports-related knee injury, such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) strains and tears, have been linked to an increased risk of later developing OA.
Have we always been this prone to these types of injuries and conditions?
Certainly we will all recall seeing little old men with walking sticks struggling along and hunched over old ladies in movies or maybe even in our community. A lot of these conditions may well be the result of poor nutrition and/or poverty.
In my early days in practice, as osteoporosis started to be an issue, it seemed to be mainly amongst those who had lived through or been born during world war II, or again who had had a childhood where they experienced poverty and consequent lack of nutrition. However, as the years have gone on, I am definitely seeing these conditions in younger and younger people, which is concerning. We do seem to be harder on our bodies, we love to go to the gym, to run, to play sport, but one would think in our first world nation, with all the information we have available to us, that our nutrition would be able to support this desire to be fit.
It’s very easy to get online and work out what supplements to take, how to do a detox or elimination diet and so on. The cases I am seeing have usually done everything possible to improve things but the numbers are not improving.
Our toxic environment is a factor in a lot of cases. Heavy metals can be a major problem these days with calcium uptake and assimilation, as they interrupt the absorption, metabolism, and use of essential minerals, such as calcium, iron, and zinc.
One place metals and minerals meet and interact is where they are to be absorbed by the body. For efficient absorption, they must bind with transporters in the small intestines. Many toxic metals use the same binders or transferors as essential minerals. This means toxic metals may be taken up instead of essential minerals, leading to a deficiency and eventually an impact on health. For example, iron deficiency (and the reasons for this are likely another blog) can lead to an increase in absorption of lead and cadmium. High levels of lead will block calcium uptake, and calcium deficiency can increase the intestinal absorption and retention of lead. (2) Copper also has a relationship with building bones, so can be another factor in OP if levels are too high (related to oestrogen dominance) or too low.
But it isn’t as simple as running out and buying calcium supplements, magnesium, vitamin D, etc. Our body is a finely tuned organism and taking the wrong supplement, the wrong combination of supplements or the wrong amount can also lead to a world of trouble. Too much calcium also affects bones negatively and may result in lower bone density over time, rather than higher (4). Excess calcium may also increase risk for kidney stones and lead to cardiovascular disease. One study showed a 24% increased risk of CVD, so we do need to be mindful of self-medicating or taking supplements in the long term without adequate and regular testing. (3)
The symbolism of joint and bone problems
But there are many many blogs and studies about bone density, calcium uptake, etc so I actually wanted to take a look here at what a health condition related to joints and bones may indicate on a deeper level.
The metaphysical symbolism of weak bones or joints is very telling of what is going on in our world generally – everything is falling apart and breaking down, eating away our foundations – and if I take a step back it appears that this is increasingly affecting people on a physical level. Just think about the surge in hip and knee replacement and of course OA and OP.
Bones give strength and support, but they can be brittle. If we see ourselves as having little or no support in the world of a physical, emotional or spiritual nature, our own foundation is weakened and the structure collapses in upon itself. (5)
The underlying feeling may be that we are not supported or we are not supported well enough, that our foundations are not there. It might be that we worry about our job security, or how long we will be able to rent a particular house, what will happen to our kids in the future or whether our Super will be enough to give us the life we desire post-retirement.
This uncertainty about the future of life and of the planet is certainly what we see in the wider world and these are anxieties that plague us all. What is going to happen to me, to my family, to my world? Who will help, how do I live strong?
In addition, as we learned in our early days at college, any condition ending in “itis”, ie osteoarthritis, is about inflammation. Inflammation symbolically is about irritation, anger, frustration and if this is a daily emotion, in a sense you are burning through your life.
Anger is a powerful form of energy which can be destructive if not managed or understood. It can have a damaging impact on the physical body causing high blood pressure and headaches, contributing to PMS, producing heart problems and ulcers, bowel issues, and worsening osteoporosis. If we are angry then we are usually tense and this puts additional pressure on certain joints and muscles. The particular location of the tension or the OA is significant too. Long-term anger drains us and pulls energy from the foundations of the body. It also destroys our self-esteem and self-worth.
I see so many people everyday pounding the pavements and working out, often excessively, in the gym, as they push themselves to keep fit, perhaps to look and feel perfect. Why is there so much disconnect between what we want to achieve and how we get there? By this I mean, why with a massive increase in traumatic injury and the research that tells us wear and tear is going to happen, do we continue to exercise in this way.
Misa Hopkins (6) says that if we are experiencing osteoarthritis then we are working too hard at life; pushing too hard, living outside the natural flow of life. She also says that we are working and creating ‘in resistance’ and a lot of the sports where osteoarthritis later in life is a risk are those where athletes push themselves continuously.
But this isn’t just about pushing our bodies, it’s about pushing our minds, searching for the perfect diet, the perfect nutrition, the perfect detox. And it’s about pushing ourselves to achieve, to excel, to feel ok about ourselves in a world which feels like it’s falling apart. And in this rocky, fragile world, this may be the only area in our life where we feel we have a level of control over what happens. Perhaps deep down we feel that by being the best and doing the best, we may eventually have a control over the world itself.
Managing these cases
So lots to think about here as to how our environment, but more likely our mind and spirit, affects our health and impact our body. And a good time to ask ourselves whether we are being gentle with ourselves, is there anger or frustration we need to look at and address, do we feel unsupported, and is it too early to be thinking about how we are treating our bodies.
As I started out saying, I am seeing more and more cases of OA and OP in clinic. Certainly I manage these cases with individualised remedies, bone support remedies and often consider and address toxicity through hair analysis, homeopathic chelation, detoxing, etc.
But we also look at source of the anger and address feelings of lack of support and worry by balancing the inner self. Often a consultation aimed at bones or joints will expand into a Soul Whispering session where we look at the inner life and its impact on the outer life and then work out a plan which addresses all the levels of need, including the physical.
Melanie Creedy originally trained in the UK in the early 1990s and holds a Bachelor of Health Science in Homeopathy. She is registered with the Australian Register of Homoeopaths (AROH) and is a member of the Australian Homoeopathic Association.She was Vice President and Professional Development Coordinator of the Australian Homoeopathic Association from 2011 to 2015 and is editor of the AHA National Newsletter.
Melanie has used homeopathy for 30 years and has been in practice since 1998. For many years she ran The Children’s Ear Clinic in Western Australia, but since her tree change to Tasmania, has a special interest in women’s and children’s health generally and helping individuals manage their journey on the spiritual path with homeopathy and her range of essences. Melanie has developed her own methods of dealing with complex cases over the years and offers distance consultations via phone and skype to allow people Australia-wide to access her services.
Homeopathy is a traditional medicine. It may be used in conjunction with other medicines. For any ongoing chronic condition, it is important to be assessed or examined by your healthcare professional or specialist. Always seek medical advice in emergencies. The information provided in this blog does not constitute medical advice but is for information only. If in doubt as to the appropriateness of a suggestion or treatment seek advice from your homeopath.