There are a few blogging friends that I follow closely that have double and triple whammy’s in their diagnoses. In my post, Mind Boggling, I talk about how CFS/ME and FMS are essentially the same thing – depending on what part of the world you are from.  They all fall under the category of CSS.

Central Sensitivity Syndrome (CSS) is essentially that your central nervous system – read your spine – was disrupted in some way (injury, infection, or inflammation) and since it’s the main thoroughfare to the rest of your body and it’s functions, all sorts of problems come from this disruption.

There are two diagnoses, Spondyloarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, I wanted to delve further into and research to better understand the world of chronic pain that not only I live in but other’s pain as well. Because pain that has affected one of us can affect all of us, so I feel it’s best to know about them if we can.

What is arthritis?

The different types of musculoskeletal conditions fall into five main groups:

  • inflammatory arthritisnormal joint

  • degenerative or mechanical arthritis

  • soft tissue musculoskeletal pain

  • back pain

  • connective tissue disease (CTD).

Inflammatory arthritis

Inflammatory arthritis is a type of arthritis where your body’s immune system produces inflammation that causes joints to become swollen and damaged. This can often occur for no obvious reason and can affect ligaments surrounding the swollen joint. A common example is rheumatoid arthritis, which affects around 400,000 people in the UK. Other examples include reactive arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and arthritis associated with colitis or psoriasis.


Also known as sero-negative spondyloarthropathy.   Spondylo’ means affecting the spine and ‘arthritis’ means joint disease. Spondyloarthritis is a name for types of arthritis that commonly affect the spine. These types of arthritis all have the following signs in common:

  • inflammation of

    • the spine and sacroiliac joints (joints that connect the base of your spine to your pelvis), felt as pain and stiffness in the buttocks, back and/or neck

    • joints in the legs and less commonly the arms, causing pain, stiffness and swelling

    • tendons (strong cords that connect muscles to bones) and ligaments (which connect bones to each other), often felt as pain in the back of the heel or underneath the foot

    • eyes, skin and other parts of the body

    • another name used for this group of conditions is spondylitis, meaning inflammation of the spine. There are several types of arthritis that can be classified as spondyloarthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

What happens in a joint affected by rheumatoid arthritis?RA joint

Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation in the synovium.  The result is very similar to inflammation that you may have seen if you’ve had an infected cut or wound – it goes red, swells, produces extra fluid and hurts. The redness is caused by the flow of blood increasing. As a result, the inflamed joint may feel warmer than usual. The inflammation is caused by a build-up of fluid and cells in the synovium. Your joint hurts for two reasons:

  • Your nerve endings are irritated by the chemicals produced by the inflammation.

  • The capsule is stretched by the swelling in your joint.

When the inflammation goes down, the capsule stays stretched and can’t hold your joint in its proper position. This can make your joint unstable, and it can move into unusual or deformed positions.

So, How can I ease the pain?

tea timeNow that we know what these diagnoses are, and how and why they hurt, here are some natural things I’ve found that can help with relieving the pain and inflammation.  In our local farmers market a few weeks ago we ran across a new booth called Taking Root. She is a local herbologist. She has researched and created wonderful teas from herbs and spices for different purposes.  One of the teas I purchased is called Structural Support tea.  I must say that I am the typical American coffee drinker and never really drink hot tea, not sure why. Now’s a good time to create more of a tea habit, and less of a coffee habit I’d say!

My back and sacroilliac joints have been hurting quite a bit from injuries I’ve had for a while. When I saw this loose tea, I was intrigued.  The label for the Structural support tea lists the herbs that are contained in it and also reads “Modulated inflammation, increase circulation, nourish connective tissues and support the body to heal skeletal ailments.”  Ding, ding. Must try now! On to research the ingredients.

Here’s what I found:

  • Gotu Kola – According to pharmacological studies, one outcome of gotu kola’s complex actions is a balanced effect on cells and tissues participating in the process of healing, particularly connective tissues.

  • Solomon Seal  – Solomon’s Seal helps connective tissues heal. When you strain your back, maybe you think in terms of back muscle pain, but it’s not just the muscle that has to heal: there are tendons connecting the muscles to bones, and beyond that the fascia, which is like a web of connective tissues that hold all of your muscles in place throughout your body. These are where Solomon’s Seal shines: ensuring that fluid balance is correct in these areas, making sure nutrients are getting where they’re going, allows these tissues to heal from their pulled-out-of-shape state back to their this-is-where-i-belong state.

  • Tulsi – According to a study conducted by the Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, India, tulsi helps to maintain the normal levels of the stress hormone – cortisol in the body.  The leaf also has powerful adaptogen properties (also known as anti-stress agents). It helps sooth the nerves, regulates blood circulation and beats free radicals that are produced during an episode of stress. Tulsi has a little bit of a “peppery” taste, but once you’re used to it. It’s pretty good – in my opinion anyway.

  • Peppermint – Headaches, nerve pain, toothaches, inflammation of the joints, and general body aches and muscle pain are all thought to be relieved by the use of Peppermint. Um, plus it’s yummy! Hello! What’s a tea if it isn’t yummy!

  • Ginger  – is purported to have anti-inflammatory effects and has been used to treat ailments related to inflammation, such as ulcerative colitis and arthritis, says the UMMC. In addition to its effects on inflammation, ginger may also help relieve muscle pain.  In a 2010 study published in the “Journal of Pain,” by CD Black et al, daily consumption of ginger produced moderate to large reductions in muscle pain after injury. In the treatment of osteoarthritis, ginger has shown mixed results in reducing inflammation and reducing the amount of pain medication needed to relieve symptoms.

  • Horsetail – (no not the hair on the behind of the horse’s behind … a bushy plant 😉 ) Because of its content of silica, this plant is recommended when it is necessary for the body to repair bony tissues that are in not well condition, as a result of some trauma or because of decalcification. Silica helps to fix calcium, so that the body can store more quantity of this mineral and it is able to form stronger bones or tendons.

  • Nettle –  (Y’know those poky things when you walk in the woods!) Stinging nettle tea possesses anti-inflammatory qualities that really help with joint soreness and arthritis (both from drinking the tea or applying it locally to the joints – the tea, not the leaves!). These qualities assist to open up nose cavities, too, giving relief from hay fever as well as other allergies.

  • Violet leaf – The salicylic acid in violets acts as painkillers and as an anti-inflammatory compound similar to the active ingredient in aspirin which helps people reduce arthritis discomforts or other discomfort felt in the joints. James A. Duke, an herbalist and a plant expert, states that the significant amounts of rutin, a compound that strengthens capillaries, are found in violet flowers. This compound prevents “leakage” from the blood vessels resulting in less swelling in pain, which benefits people who suffer from inflammation.

So, as you can see from the research from the different ingredients in the tea looks very beneficial to we chronic pain sufferers of all sorts.  I just bought my second tin of the loose tea.  I didn’t really notice it “working” until I wasn’t drinking it anymore. Then I definitely noticed my old bones a screamin’ and bellyachin”.  I am definitely going to keep drinking this one!loose leaf cup of tea