The Spiritual Reason Behind Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis – Article 30 of the Healing Series of TruLight Radio XM called “The Doctor Says – The Bible Says” by Dr. Michelle Strydom MD

Osteoarthritis is a common, disabling degenerative disease that causes
pain and limitation of movement in the joints, especially in the knee,
hip, hands and the spine in the neck. It also affects the elbow, shoulder joints
and ankle.

These are the typical characteristics of joint pain due to osteoarthritis:

  • Develops slowly over months to years.
  • The degree of pain fluctuates over time (you have good days and bad days).
  • The pain is mainly related to movement and weight bearing.
  • Pain is relieved by rest.
  • Brief morning stiffness that lasts for less than 15 minutes and stiffness that lasts less than 1 minute after rest.
  • • Usually only one or a few joints are painful (not multiple regional pain).

Signs of osteoarthritis include:

  • Restricted movement.
  • You can feel and sometimes even hear the grinding in the joint when it is moved.
  • There may be swelling and tenderness around the joint.
  • The joint may be deformed.

To understand osteoarthritis, you need to know the basic anatomy of a joint:

Osteoarthritis is mostly found in people who are in their 50s and 60s or older. This does not mean that osteoarthritis is a disease due to old age, it is because the disease takes a long time to develop. There is often a genetic factor that contributes to osteoarthritis, so I recommend that you also read through the chapter on genetically inherited diseases on page 153.

There are two types of osteoarthritis – primary and secondary osteoarthritis. Secondary osteoarthritis is caused by trauma to a joint (such as rupture of a ligament) or a joint that is over used during competitive sports or a particular job. For example coal miners often develop osteoarthritis in the elbow joints, golfers in their big toe and foot ball players in the knees. Osteoarthritis can also result from a previous hip dislocation, a congenital deformity in the joint, abnormal bone structure (acromegaly) or a previous fracture in that bone. In secondary osteoarthritis there is damage or loss of the cartilage in the joint as
a result of the injury. To compensate for this insult, the bone remodels the joint resulting in an altered pain free functioning joint. Sometimes, because of either an overwhelming injury or persistent injury on a chronic basis, this compensatory repair process fails, resulting in progressive tissue damage and secondary osteoarthritis. In the case of secondary osteoarthritis there is not necessarily a spiritual root behind it so you can just pray in faith for healing. If there is permanent damage to the bones, cartilage, ligaments or
muscles you will have to operate in the gift of miracles. This is explained on page 123 under the heading “You Can’t Always Do It Alone”.

However the majority of people have primary osteoarthritis which involves none of the above scenarios. This is particularly true of the vertebra in the spine which can produce severe pain and disability. The word “primary” means the cause is unknown. In other words no visible abnormality or infection has been found that initiates the osteoarthritis. Whenever a cause behind a disease cannot be found, there is a spiritual root behind it and a toxic mindset upstream in the person’s thought life. The degeneration and joint damage
in primary osteoarthritis is the result of self bitterness: you are holding a record of wrongs against yourself, you won’t forgive yourself and are holding yourself guilty for some issue in the past.31 Well that is what you think, but it is an accusing spirit (Revelations 12 v 10) that is reminding you of failure and how you don’t measure up. It accuses you to yourself in everything you do.

The joint damage is the result of self bitterness: you are holding yourself guilty for some issue in the past and won’t forgive yourself.

Whatever goes on in your thought life, your brain converts into a physical reaction. As bitterness against yourself eats at you spiritually in your thoughts, your body will eventually respond to this by in a sense “eating itself”. Interleukin 1 is a chemical that is part of the immune system. The immune system is an army of cells that was originally designed by God to protect you from harmful substances like viruses, bacteria, cancer cells and so forth. When the cells of the immune system see these harmful substances in your blood stream or body tissues, the immune system kills or eliminates them, thus
preventing you from becoming sick. However when you are attacking yourself spiritually with thoughts of self bitterness and guilt, the physical reaction via your brain results in interleukin 1 changing the biogenetic character of the cartilage cells. The cartilage cells release enzymes (called aggrecanase, collagenase and stromelysin) that degrade the structural components (called aggrecan and collagen) that make up the cartilage in your joints. This results in an increase in water concentration and swelling pressure in the cartilage that further damages the remaining scaffolding in the cartilage, making it vulnerable to load bearing injury. Cracks develop in the cartilage and the cartilage cells die. Thus there is a decrease in the thickness of the cartilage. The cartilage is lost mainly at the area of the joint that takes most of the pressure of your body weight. Eventually the full thickness of the cartilage may be lost, resulting in the two bones in the joint grinding against each other. This grinding can be felt with the hand when the person moves the joint. The changes in the cartilage encourage crystals (calcium pyrophosphate and apatite) to be deposited in the joint which can cause further irritation, inflammation and swelling.

All the different parts that make up a joint (cartilage, bone, synovium, capsule, ligaments and muscle) depend on each other for health and function. When one part is damaged, the others are also adversely affected. Because the cartilage has decreased in thickness or has been lost altogether, the bone immediately below it increases in thickness (this is called sclerosis). The muscles that are attached to the joint are also damaged – they are weakened and they shrink (atrophy). This causes further instability of the joint which
worsens the osteoarthritis. As the cartilage changes worsen, there is increasingly severe bone damage. Holes that become filled with fluid (cysts) develop in the bone. This is caused by areas of bone that die as a result of the increased pressure in the bone because the weakened cartilage has failed in its load transmitting function. To try to compensate for the cartilage damage and consequent abnormal distribution of pressure, the edges of the bone grow to form what is called osteophytes which deform the joint surface. These osteophytes interfere with movement (especially in the hip), thus making the joint stiff.

This is an osteophyte (compare it with the normal looking bone on the right of the joint)

In the finger joints near the tip of the fingers the osteophytes produce characteristic nodular swellings called Heberden’s nodes and Bouchard’s nodes in the middle finger joints. The affected finger joints become deformed and bend to the side. The thumb is also commonly affected where osteophyte formation and the joint slipping out of place result in “squaring” of the base of the thumb. People who have this “nodal” type of osteoarthritis are at risk of developing osteoarthritis at other sites, especially the knee. This type of osteoarthritis has a very strong genetically inherited component. These people have a clear family history, especially in their female relatives.

In the neck these osteophytes squash the nerves in the spinal cord causing pain (this condition is called cervical spondylosis). The pain of osteoarthritis is as a result of increased pressure on the bone (due to the loss of cartilage), small fractures in the bone (due to the increased pressure), stretching of the joint capsule or damage in the area where the tendons and muscle attach to the joint as a result of altered joint mechanics.

Osteoarthritis in the Knee: Common functional difficulties include walking for a long time, rising from a chair, getting in or out of a car or bending to put on shoes and socks. The person walks with a jerky, asymmetric gait (called an antalgic gait) with less time bearing weight on the painful leg. The knee is deformed and curved. There is weakness and wasting of the quadriceps muscle above the knee. There is restricted movement where the person cannot fully flex and extend the knee. Grinding of the bones can be felt during movement of the knee. There may be swelling around the knee joint.

Osteoarthritis in the Hip: Hip pain is usually maximal deep in the front of the groin and sometimes can radiate to the buttock, front and side of the thigh, knee or shin. The functional difficulties are the same as mentioned for the knee above. The earliest and most accurate sign of hip osteoarthritis is pain and difficulty to rotate the leg inwards with the leg bent forwards at the hip joint. The person also has an antalgic gait (described above), weakness and wasting of quadriceps muscles above the knee and the gluteal muscles in the buttock. When the hip joint becomes deformed, the leg is held in a position where it is rotated outwards and the leg is flexed forwards at the hip joint. The leg can even become a little shorter than the other one.

In the medical field osteoarthritis is considered to be a progressive disease (in other words it gets worse, it does not improve) and the damage done in osteoarthritis is considered to be permanent. However it doesn’t have to be that way. There is nothing impossible with God when His conditions for healing are met. However you have a responsibility to deal with the underlying issues and toxic mindset causing osteoarthritis. The following chapters will help you:

  • “The Day Sanctification Begins” on page 116 – you need to separate yourself from your sin.
  • “Forgiveness – A Necessity For Healing” on page 481 – You have got to be prepared to let go of that self bitterness and forgive yourself.
  • “Who You Are In Christ” on page 498 – You need to develop a healthy self-esteem which starts with knowing who you are in Christ and establishing your identity and sense of self worth in Him. You need to see yourself as God sees you.
  • I also recommend that you read through the section on page 560 under the heading “Look After Your Temple” where there is advice on exercise and healthy eating. You need to strengthen the muscles around that joint with exercise which must include both aerobic exercise and weight lifting. Just because God heals you, it does not negate your responsibility to be a good steward of your body. If you are over weight, it is important that you lose those excess kilos because it puts additional strain on your joints. There is a chapter about weight gain on page 234.
  • Because the damage done during osteoarthritis is irreversible, you also need to operate in the gift of miracles as explained on page 123 under the heading “You Can’t Always Do It Alone”. For example: “Calling those things that are not as if they were (Romans 4 v 17), I now speak a creative miracle into my joints. In Jesus’ Name I speak the cartilage back into place now… be formed! Osteophytes dissolve! I command my joints to be reformed and reshaped as God created them to be from before the foundation of the world. By the stripes of Jesus I am healed and made whole! (Isaiah 53 v 5)”

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