Aching Joints

When Joint Pain isn’t Simply Arthritis

Recently a patient of mine came in complaining of joint pain. This wasn’t something she’d experienced previously—she said it came on suddenly and had worsened over several days’ time. While she felt it in her hands the most, she also had pain in her ankle, knee, and left jaw joint. Other joints would hurt one day and not the next. She assumed her Lyme Disease had returned, but we needed to do some testing to confirm the true cause.

Tests for Lyme, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and osteoarthritis all proved negative. But she did test positive for joint inflammation and heavy metals. When I asked her if she’d had any dental work done lately, she said an old silver filling had started disintegrating, and her dentist had fixed it a few days later by removing the remainder of the filling and putting in new amalgam.

Chances were high that she had swallowed some of the old silver filling when it broke down, as well as while she waited for her dental appointment and when the dentist cleaned out the rest of the filling; it was only about a week after the filling had broken that she started experiencing pain. It was interesting to note that her jaw pain was only on the side where the filling had come out and the new amalgam had been put in.

Typical dental amalgams are made from about 50 percent elemental mercury, which is classified as a toxic heavy metal. As if that’s not dangerous enough, they also contain an alloy that consists of tin and two other toxic heavy metals: copper and silver. When these enter the body, they can cause a variety of reactions, including joint pain that mimics arthritis.

The medical community connects most chronic joint pain to either osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, though there can be a number of other causes. An estimated 52.5 million American adults have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis, and that number is projected to rise to about 78.4 million by 2040. In addition, the most current research by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that approximately 14.6 million Americans are living with severe joint pain.

Over 2 million Americans have been diagnosed with RA—which is an autoimmune disease—but not all are experiencing relief from treatments. When this is the case, there’s a high probability that the underlying cause of joint pain and inflammation is actually heavy metal toxicity rather than RA; this can also be the case when osteoarthritis is misdiagnosed. Unfortunately many doctors do not take this into consideration and don’t test for heavy metals, which is one of the reasons why so many people end up on dangerous, addictive painkillers and OTC pain medications that can damage their gut and other organs.

We are exposed to toxins every day, both environmentally and in some of the foods we eat. When heavy metals build up in our bodies, they can be deposited in joints, leading to inflammation and pain. We can lessen our toxic load by choosing organic foods and going to holistic biological dentists, who use mercury-free composite fillings rather than the standard heavy metal-based silver amalgam fillings.

Among the heavy metals that can put a toxic burden on our bodies are:

  • mercury
  • lead
  • cadmium
  • arsenic (found in most rice and rice products)
  • aluminum
  • antimony

Small amounts of heavy metals may not cause any reaction, and we’re continually assured that various food and beverage products, mercury-based vaccines, amalgams, pollution levels, etc. are within “acceptable” limits. However, toxins from all these sources build up in the body, and the resulting accumulations can affect us biologically and/or neurologically. Biotoxicity can manifest in a range of ways, from arthritis-like symptoms to digestive problems; neurotoxicity includes things like sleep problems, headaches, cognitive difficulties and even depression.

Over time heavy metals in the body can actually lead to development of arthritis as well as other health issues like endocrine system disruption (hormonal imbalances, adrenal exhaustion, and food allergies/sensitivities), liver stress, lymphatic system overload, and more.

Some elements classified as heavy metals like copper, selenium and zinc are necessary to our health in small amounts, but when they’re out of balance, they, too, can lead to systemic toxicity.

You functional medicine doctor can perform comprehensive heavy metal testing to discover whether your joint pain and inflammation are due to heavy metal toxicity. He can then determine the best method to eliminate the metals and prevent further joint damage or other health issues from progressing.

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For more information about my clinic in Oradell, NJ, including Functional Medicine, Neurology & Nutrition, and The Grassroots Medicine Initiative, please call (201) 261-5430.