Usually when I think of arthritis and any joint pain, my mind tends to drift towards the elderly, who have more of a propensity to be afflicted with the debilitating effects of limited, stiff and painful movement.
[Editor’s note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal views of the authors and are not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. For serious.]
In my own years of wellness and healing, I’ve discovered that it is not always the case for the over 60 year old population to suffer from the loss of range of motion throughout most of their limb structure.
A person can acquire degenerating bone and joint discomfort at any age. Whether genetic, hereditary, or simply neglect of self-care, arthritis (or osteoarthritis) is more common than we think.
It would be easy to deduce most of the symptoms as a result of unused muscular structure, and in some cases that is true. But, the latest buzz now is how most types of illness and dis-ease are originating in the body as a result of locked up emotions—with arthritis being one of the most inflammatory ailments of all.
It often begins with the fingers, can migrate to the hips, the toes, the knees, the elbows and then possibly settle in the shoulders and lower back. Arthritis knows no limits when it comes to affliction of the joints.
What is recently being discovered is the correlation between arthritis and the emotional state. An excellent and timeless book by Louise Hay called, “You Can Heal Your Life” has a very informative list at the end of the book, which depicts specific illnesses matched to certain areas of the body, which are then correlated to possible emotions that can be causing the pain or bodily malfunction.
This can be the result of emotional repression in certain body parts unattended by our vulnerable state and left wrung out to dry by avoidance of issues deep within. Louise Hay, a healer and survivor of years of childhood abuse, breaks down each dis-ease, 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. In my own healing of late, I was completely thrown for a loop, as I have been dealing with some intense joint pain that began a month ago, mostly on the right side of my body.
It started in my wrist, and I thought it was carpal tunnel syndrome from writing too much, walking dogs on a leash using the same hand, and just general tasks or lack of nutritional support that my body needed. Then certain toes started to ache and take on swollen status, which I attributed to lots of running miles over the years, needing new shoes and being on my feet on some days for way too many hours.
Recently, my right kneecap looked much larger than my left, was super painful when I sat in lotus position, felt like it was in need of some sort of draining, and I was completely discounting the fact that it really hurt.
I kept running, which didn’t help, and doing the yoga poses with compromised knee positions, which also didn’t help. But to yoga’s credit, a solid practice has restored more in my body than any other movement of late, so I am grateful for that. Yet I was wearing a brace on my wrist, writhing in pain on most lunge positions, grimacing when I had to stand and put more pressure on my toes, all the while getting a bit discouraged.
Then it hit me one morning, a totally synchronicity. I pulled out that Louise Hay healing book, which I used to resort to for my Mom when she had stuff going on, and decided I needed it myself. Wow! It finally made some sense. I have 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—completely overwhelmed me and left me somewhat discouraged and broken. 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.
The pain began to dissipate in my wrist and knee. It isn’t 100 percent yet, but just being open and letting it all out has alleviated so much of my joint pain. Every emotion that I usually repress, I revisited and explored, took it under my wing and relived the ache associated with it, then let it go. And, I am able to maintain my yoga practice, run when I feel like it, and weight train at home when I’m in the mood.
The emotional purge allowed me the freedom to do just that. 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. Every day movements require more thought and care. Chores that were normally routine become bothersome and in need of planning or assistance. It is almost a vicious cycle of one always seemingly affecting the other.
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 not only weight-bearing exercises (weight training, running, walking) which strengthen the joints, ligaments, muscle fibers and all else in between, but deep emotional purging. This will lighten your mood considerably, and even more so by going for a walk outdoors, practicing yoga, deep breathing exercises, healthy connections, heart-filled activities, being of service and giving.
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. As one who has been on the receiving end of some arthritic pain of late, I can attest to how my mood wasn’t always so cheerful for weeks on end. 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.
The recent decision to move forward in my life and feeling good about the positive internal changes has alleviated so many of my symptoms, 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.
At least then you have the necessary tools to navigate your way into better emotional health through meditation, release and positive thinking. It is important to have your feelings and honor them. 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!
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Editor: Travis May
Photo: Lenore Butt/Pixoto