How can you combat
The first step in combating osteoarthritis, or OA, is knowing what it is. You can have a great impact on how any arthritic condition effects you if have some understanding of it. There are a two main questions that must be answered here.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Why is it effecting me?
Let's explore these two questions separately:
What is osteoarthritis?
The most common form of arthritis doesn't appear to be a classic arthritic condition. A more appropriate term for it is degenerative joint disease
. This describes what is actually going on. Essentially it's the abnormal destruction of cartilage in the joints of the body.
Slicker than Teflon...
Cartilage forms super slick pads covering the ends of bones in joints. These pads glide over each other effortlessly and keep the bones from grinding themselves to dust during everyday movements.
The cartilage is bathed in a nutrient rich liquid called synovial fluid within a closed capsule. During movement, the fluid is squeezed out of the cartilage while under pressure and rushes back in as the pressure is reduced.
While walking, for instance, every step causes synovial fluid to be flushed in and out. This brings a fresh supply of nutrients and helps keep the cartilage soft, slick, and healthy.
As cartilage cells wear out they are replaced with new healthy cells. Normally this process is in balance.
When things go wrong...
For many people, the process becomes tilted towards the wrong side. Cartilage is damaged and torn down but the repair process lags behind. Slowly, the normally smooth and super slick surface of the cartilage becomes pitted and rough. This increases the friction and wear. The cartilage becomes thinner and thinner. In osteoarthritis knees and other joints of the body are losing this battle.
As cartilage between bones wears out the bones begin to impact on each other. Bone spurs develop which aggravate the condition and cause much pain. This action creates a source of inflammation that effects the surrounding joint as a whole.
Swelling, heat, and pain occur as the immune system attempts to clear out damaged tissue. Chemicals from the inflamed tissue damage more healthy cartilage cells.
A positive feedback loop occurs since the condition doesn't "heal". The inflammation builds on itself and gets out of control. The result is a worsening condition, destroyed joints, and chronic pain.
The body in action...
Let's look at an example of a normal immune response:
If you cut your finger, the immune system immediately gets a signal to go into action. Swelling, redness, heat, and pain occur at the site of the cut. As the cut heals those symptoms gradually disappear. Eventually as the cut is healed the inflammation ceases. The signal that activated the immune system in the first place is turned off. Only some scar tissue remains as evidence. This is a normal immune response cycle.
With arthritis, on the other hand, that cycle is not completed. Because the body does not regenerate the lost cartilage the bone on bone impact continues. This signals to the immune system stay "on". The result is a continuous cycle of inflammation, swelling, and pain.
Not everyone will develop this condition.
What are the contributing factors? Let's take a look...
Why is osteoarthritis effecting me?
There are several factors that can predispose you to this condition. More than one usually combine to cause it to erupt. These conditions tend to overlap and intertwine. Here are some of the possible contributing factors or causes of osteoarthritis:
Poor Diet: Excess weight, hormonal imbalances, inflammation, and nutrient deprivation to cartilage
Age: Old injuries accumulate, muscle declines, weight often climbs.
Injury: Repetitive stress or acute cartilage damage can trigger problems.
Genetic Factors: Unfortunately, genes can play a big role in developing OA
Poor Muscle Strength: Causes poor alignment of joints and faster wear.
Being Overweight: Excess stress on joints
Accumulated AGE's: Debris which slows cartilage repair
Reduced Blood Supply: Slows nutrient flow and repair mechanisms
Infection: An infection in the joint can lead to OA
Click here for a detailed look at the contributing factors of osteoarthritis.
As you can see, many of the possible causes are interrelated. It is hard to pinpoint the specific factor or event leading to the condition. It does appear that after a certain threshold these factors combined spark the osteoarthritis process.
Regardless of how it begins, most people just want to know what can be done about it. There are three areas where you can have an impact on the condition. They are:
DietYou could be eating yourself into more pain and misery! Changing the way you eat can slow the progression of many diseases, including degenerative joint disease. Learn more about eating a healthy anti inflammatory diet.
ExerciseA proper exercise program strengthens muscle to improve body alignment. Stronger muscles help joints function efficiently. This slows the wear and tear effect. Exercising also keeps joint cartilage healthy and functioning properly. It balances certain hormones which lessens the effects of degenerative joint disease.
The knees are particularly susceptible to osteoarthritis. A proper arthritis knee exercise program can get you back on you feet, increase mobility, and reduce knee joint pain.
For those with advanced joint discomfort an arthritis water exercise program may be very beneficial. Water has advantages which makes exercise easier, safer, and more effective for those suffering from degenerative joint diseases.
Nutritional SupplementsCertain nutritional supplements have been proven to slow or even reverse the effects of osteoarthritis. Adding these supplements to an anti inflammatory diet has a dramatic impact on joint health for OA sufferers.
Glucosamine stimulates cartilage production and binds water into the cartilage matrix keeping it functional. It also stimulates collagen formation. This combination makes glucosamine a powerhouse in the fight against OA.
Chondroitin also has a positive effect on cartilage production. It prevents cartilage breakdown and acts as an anti inflammatory by inhibiting certain joint destroying enzymes and chemicals.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements are the most effective natural joint relief products for degenerative joint disease sufferers.
The functions of Glucosamine and Chondroitin are synergistic. This means they work together better than either of them taken alone. Sort of a 1+1=3 situation.
Avacado Soybean Unsaponifiables or ASU is a lesser known supplement which works well alone and in conjunction with glucosamine and chondroitin. It fights osteoarthritis by increasing cartilage production while also inhibiting cartilage breakdown.
Omega 3 Fish Oil increases your body's anti inflammatory hormones. It also inhibits pro inflammatory hormone production. Fish oil is so beneficial to overall body health that it should be included in any nutritional supplement regimen.
Antioxidants acting as fee radical scavengers have anti inflammatory effects. Certain antioxidants like vitamin C are important for collagen formation and strengthen bone as well as cartilage.
Other Natural Anti Inflammatories such as certain plant extracts act as powerful suppressors of inflammation. By blocking inflammatory chemicals joint breakdown is slowed, pain is reduced, and normal function can be maintained.
We now know what Osteoarthritis is and why it is effecting you. Taking action in the key areas of diet, exercise, and proper supplementation may halt or reverse the effects of this condition.
These actions are critical regardless of whether you seek medical intervention. You can do something right now to ease the pain. The fight against degenerative joint disease must begin with you.
Return from Osteoarthritis to Inflammation