Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disorder of the joints and cartilage that becomes more common with age, although it may also affect young people. Joints that are commonly affected include the knees, hips, spine and hands. Osteoarthritis causes pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints, and may reduce mobility.

Symptoms

  • Joint pain
  • Stiffness
  • Inflammation and swelling
  • Reduced range of motion and restricted mobility
  • Joints may creak or click
  • The muscles around the affected joint may be weak
  • Joints, especially in the hands, may become misshapen and deformed
  • Osteoarthritis in the spine or hip may cause pressure on nerves, causing referred pain in other parts of the body (e.g. down the arm or leg)
  • Symptoms may be worse after exercise or exertion (for example at the end of a busy day), but may also be worse after periods of inactivity (for example, first thing in the morning, or after sitting for long periods)
  • Tends to occur in individual joints (unlike Rheumatoid Arthritis, which affects multiple joints and is a systemic or 'whole body' condition)

Causes

  • Osteoarthritis is associated with damage to the cartilage that lines the joints. As the integrity of the cartilage declines, the characteristic symptoms of pain and inflammation occur, and over time, the joint's range of motion may become restricted
  • Osteoarthritis often occurs in joints that have experienced some form of trauma, over-use, or 'wear and tear'. For example, it is common in people whose occupations involve physical work, those with weight problems, and those who have participated in high impact sporting activities (such as running or football)
  • Other risk factors include being female, getting older, having a previous joint injury, and having a family history of the osteoarthritis

Nutritional & Herbal Support

  • Curcumin is the active component of Turmeric, which has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine as an anti-inflammatory and anti-arthirtic and provide temporary relief of pain.
  • White Willow Bark is traditionally used in herbal medicine for the relief of minor joint pain and may provide temporary relief of minor low back pain.
  • Frankincense is a resin obtained from trees and is traditionally used for the relief of rheumatism and arthiritis.
  • Corydalis is a herb which is used in traditional Chinese medicine for the relief of pain

Diet & Lifestyle advice

  • Exercise helps keep arthritic joints moving and improves the strength of the muscles and ligaments around them. It also improves pain management, helps you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight (which relieves pressure on the joints), and enhances circulation (and therefore nourishment) of the joints. However, it's important that your exercise program doesn't aggravate your arthritis. Don't exercise joints that are inflamed or painful, as doing so may worsen the tissue damage. Gentle forms of exercise, such as walking, tai chi, swimming and aquarobics are suitable options; talk to your doctor or physio about an exercise program that's specially tailored to your individual needs
  • Adequate rest is also important, but don't avoid activity altogether, or your joints may become stiffer and your muscles weaker
  • Eat plenty of whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, and high quality proteins. Oily fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are an excellent choice because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids
  • Increasing your omega-3 intake at the same time that you decrease your consumption of saturated fats (from animal products) and trans fats (used in the production of some margarines, take away foods and baked goods) may be particularly beneficial
  • Many natural therapists encourage those who suffer from arthritis to avoid tomatoes, capsicum, chilli, potatoes, eggplant and other foods from the nightshade family of vegetables, believing that they promote inflammation. Although this is controversial, it's worthwhile trying as many sufferers report that avoiding these foods helps manage their symptoms
  • Learn and practice meditation or relaxation techniques in order to improve your ability to cope with Stress and manage your pain. Hypnotherapy, acupuncture, osteopathy or chiropractic treatment may also be beneficial for some people
  • Use heat packs to warm up stiff joints and muscles, or ice packs to relieve acute episodes of pain and inflammation
  • Many people benefit from devices that modify household appliances for ease of use by arthritis sufferers. Talk to your doctor or physio for more information

If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Information provided is of a general nature and should not replace that of your healthcare professional.

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