Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more of your joints. The most common type of arthritis is Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis involves wear-and-tear damage to your joint's cartilage — the hard, slick coating on the ends of bones where they form a joint. Cartilage cushions the ends of the bones and allows nearly frictionless joint motion, but enough damage can result in bone grinding directly on bone, which causes pain and restricted movement. This wear and tear can occur over many years, or it can be hastened by a joint injury or infection.
Osteoarthritis also affects the entire joint. It causes changes in the bones and deterioration of the connective tissues that attach muscle to bone and hold the joint together. It causes inflammation of the joint lining, as well.
Signs and symptoms may include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and decreased range of motion. Severe arthritis, particularly if it affects your hands or arms, can make it difficult for you to do daily tasks. Arthritis of weight-bearing joints can keep you from walking comfortably or sitting up straight. In some cases, joints may become twisted and deformed.
There is good news for those with arthritis- much can be done to decrease the comfort and inflammation, as well as restore function for affected joints! Options include diet changes, physical activity, nutritional supplements to fight inflammation, supplements to restore joint cartilage, over-the-counter pain medications, topical creams, Prolotherapy, and acupuncture.
Dietary changes can go a long way towards lessening the inflammation of arthritis. A healthy diet that includes lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and fatty fish (such as salmon or tuna) actively lessens inflammation. Foods with saturated fats, such as dairy and fatty meats, promote inflammation. Trans fats, found in processed foods, also promote inflammation. Sugar, found in sodas, snack foods, and now added to most processed foods and sauces, is also a big promoter of inflammation.
Be active: research has proven that physical activity reduces levels of inflammatory chemicals. Conversely, research has also shown that being sedentary increases the same chemicals.
I recommend the following nutritional supplements to fight inflammation of arthritis:
• Turmeric: has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to help relieve pain of arthritis. I recommend 500 mg per day.
• Fish Oil (Omega 3) capsules: These also lessen inflammation. Quality matters here- inferior brands may cause belching and taste horrible.
• Apple Cider Vinegar: taken at 1 Tbsp per day, (also available in capsule form).
Additionally, I suggest the following supplements to restore cartilage, especially useful for arthritic degeneration of the hips and knees:
• Glucosamine: 1.5 gm per day
• Chondroitin: 800-1200 mg per day
• Hydrolyzed Collagen: 8-12 gm per day
Over-the counter pain medications are very popular. In the US, 60 million adults take over-the-counter pain relievers every day! Over-the-counter pain medications are divided into two main categories: Nonsteroidal Anti—Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), and Acetaminophen (Tylenol). These medications are so popular because they are effective in providing relief from chronic pain and arthritis symptoms. Yet, while these pain relievers are widely believed to be completely safe, in reality this ongoing use can lead to serious health risks or even death. If using OTC pain medications, take them at the lowest effective dose for no more than 10 consecutive days.
Topical creams are generally safe. There are natural formulations of these, containing such ingredients as capsaicin or eucalyptus. There are also prescription creams containing traditional pharmaceutical medications, but are far safer than taking pills because only about 10% of the cream ingredients are absorbed into the bloodstream.
Prolotherapy: If the pain is coming primarily from the soft tissues surrounding the joint, Prolotherapy injections can help significantly. The determination of whether Prolotherapy can help is based on physical exam, history, and x-rays.
Acupuncture can be very helpful both in reducing local inflammation and lessening pain. The effects are cumulative, such that relief after several treatments may last for months.
The bad news is that many Americans are suffering from Arthritis. The good news is there is much we can do to lessen the resulting suffering and disability!