Arthritis is common and most people are aware of this medical condition. Among all types of Arthritis, Osteoarthritis is the most common form. It is a non-inflammatory degenerative condition of joints, characterized by degeneration of articular cartilage and formation of new bone that is called osteophytes.
Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, though it most commonly affects joints in the hands, hips, knees and spine. It typically affects just one joint, though in some cases, such as with finger arthritis, several joints can be affected. Osteoarthritis gradually worsens with time, and no cure exists. But osteoarthritis treatments can relieve pain and help you to remain active. Taking steps to actively manage this condition may help patients gain control over the pain.
Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. Signs and symptoms include:
- Pain in a joint during or after use, or after a period of inactivity
- Tenderness in the joint when you apply light pressure
- Stiffness in a joint that may be most noticeable when a patient wakes up in the morning or after a period of inactivity
- Loss of flexibility may make it difficult to use the joint
- Grating sensation when moving the joint
- Bone spurs, which appear as hard lumps, may form around the affected joint
- Swelling in some cases
Unless one has been injured or has placed unusual stress on a joint, it’s uncommon for Osteoarthritis symptoms to affect jaw, shoulder, elbows, wrists or ankles.
What Cause This Condition?
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in the joints deteriorates over time. The smooth surface of the cartilage becomes rough, causing irritation. Eventually, if the cartilage wears down completely, patient may be left with bone rubbing on bone — causing the ends of the bones to become damaged and the joints to become painful. It isn’t clear what causes osteoarthritis in most cases. Researchers suspect that it’s a combination of factors, including being overweight, the aging process, joint injury or stress, heredity, and muscle weakness.
Risk Factors that increase risk of osteoarthritis include:
- Old age: This condition typically occurs in older adults. People under 40 rarely experience it
- Sex: Women are more likely to develop this condition, though it isn’t clear why
- Bone deformities: Some people are born with malformed joints or defective cartilage, which can increase the risk of this condition
- Joint injuries: Injuries, such as those that occur when playing sports or from an accident, may increase the risk
- Obesity: Carrying more body weight places more stress on weight-bearing joints, such as knees. But obesity has also been linked to an increased risk of osteoarthritis in the hands, as well.
How Can You Prevent It?
Avoid processed and sugary foods and drinks, eat more fruits and vegetables. Foods rich in antioxidants help in decreasing pain and inflammation. Also include food rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Olive Oil helps in preventing inflammation. Eating fruits rich in Vitamin C helps in building collagen and connective tissue. Examples are citrus fruits, strawberries, red peppers and cabbage. Try some of these foods:
- Bananas and Plantains are high in magnesium and potassium which increases your bone density. Magnesium is also known to alleviate symptoms of arthritis. So peel a banana or fry up some plantains!
- Blueberries also pack a walloping antioxidant punch! Antioxidants protect your body against inflammation and free radicals – molecules that can damage cells and organs. Pay special attention to blueberries. USDA researcher Ronald Prior, Ph.D., showed that a one-cup serving of Wild Blueberries had more antioxidant capacity than a serving of cranberries, strawberries, plums and raspberries.
- Salmon: Not only can Omega-3 found in fish significantly reduce joint pain and shorten the duration of morning stiffness, but studies, such as those reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, show that increased levels of Omega-3 fatty acids also have enabled people taking Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce their dosage or discontinue use.
- Green Tea: Many studies have shown that green tea possesses anti-inflammatory properties. One study showed that mice predisposed to a condition similar to human osteoarthritis had mild arthritis and little evidence of cartilage damage and bone erosion when green tea polyphenols were added to their drinking water. Another study showed that when added to human cartilage cell cultures, the active ingredients in green tea inhibited chemicals and enzymes that lead to cartilage damage and breakdown.
- Vitamin C is important in the development of normal cartilage. A deficiency of Vitamin C might lead to the development of weak cartilage. In 2010, The Arthritis Research Institute of America, Inc. published an important article in the Journal Public Health Nutrition which suggested that Vitamin C supplementation may indeed be beneficial in preventing new cases of knee osteoarthritis.
- Soy protein, found in tofu, has been shown to reduce pain and swelling in chronic knee joint pain, not attributed to injury or rheumatoid arthritis. Results were found to be more beneficial for men than women. Tofu can be cubed and fried with noodles, or bought prepackaged as tofu pups or tofu burgers. There are even recipes that call for it in fruit smoothies!
- Peanut Butter: Vitamin B3, found in peanut butter, is a supplement that may help people with Osteoarthritis. One 1996 study (National Institutes of Health) showed that taking Vitamin B3 was more effective than a placebo in improving flexibility and reducing inflammation.
- Whole Grain Breads and Cereals: In one placebo controlled trial, those with rheumatoid arthritis (and by extension osteoarthritis) had less disability, morning stiffness, and pain when they took high doses of pantothenic acid (Brewer’s Yeast) daily.
- Lobster is an excellent source of Vitamin E. Vitamin E may be the key to fighting arthritis-like damage. According to a study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, Vitamin E (also known as alpha tocopherol) and other naturally occurring antioxidants in the diet appear to protect against knee Osteoarthritis.
- Pineapple: For years, professional coaches have recommended pineapple to athletes to help heal sports injuries. That’s because a key enzyme in pineapple called bromelain, which helps reduce inflammation.
Apart from the food recommendations above, ensure that you maintain an active lifestyle. To understand what workouts or exercises you can implement in your daily routine, speak to a certified expert from GOQii by subscribing for Personalised Health Coaching here.
Though Osteoarthritis is a chronic disorder, you can prevent it or if you have it already, you can live in a better way by managing it with proper lifestyle habits. Prevention is always better than cure. So let’s concentrate on exercises as well as healthier food options. Ultimately, eating right, exercise and living a healthy life style can prevent most ailments.
You can explore some healthy habits by checking out Healthy Reads for more articles such as these. Do leave your thoughts in the comments below!