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If you have morning stiffness that lasts 30 minutes or longer, creakiness climbing stairs or difficulty gripping the lid of a jar to open it, you may have arthritis.  You’re not alone – osteoarthritis affects millions of people of all ages.
Arthritis is inflammation of a joint which makes movement difficult and causes redness, swelling and sometimes warmth.  It can occur in any joint but it most commonly begins in the fingers, knees and hips.  There are more than a hundred different types of arthritis, the most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  Arthritis may also be a symptom of other treatable diseases including infections, Lyme disease, lupus and Reiter’s disease.

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Osteoarthritis means that the actual structural components in the joints are wearing out.  It sometimes follows a previous injury and is more common among people who have participated in contact sports.  To understand how arthritis produces pain you need to take a look inside a joint, the place where two or more bones meet.  Bones do not actually touch, they are separated by a small space called the synovial space.  This space is filled with fluid which allows movement.  The fluid is contained in a capsule by a synovial membrane.  Finally, the ends of each bone are covered with smooth cartilage, which allows movement with less friction.

In people who have osteoarthritis the joints themselves sometimes swell and become deformed.  One of the distinguishing characteristics of osteoarthritis is that the affected joint is cool and hard to the touch rather than warm and spongy as in rheumatoid arthritis.  Destruction of the cartilage that surrounds the ends of the bones is common in osteoarthritis.  Small bone spurs then grow from the surface of the bone into the joint.  These spurs decrease the mobility of the joint.

Lifestyle changes can make a difference in controlling arthritis symptoms:

Regular activity is recommended but water activity is especially good since it doesn’t put additional pressure on the joints.  Activity must be coupled with periods of rest.

Some people with arthritis find that a vegetarian or alkali diet can reduce the symptoms.  You might also find it helpful to cut back on coffee, alcohol, refined and processed foods, carbonated drinks, chocolate and dairy products, since these foods tend to foster inflammation.  Food sensitivities or allergies may also play a role in arthritis, and many people find some relief by eliminating certain foods.  The most common foods that can affect arthritis are members of the nightshade family such as eggplants, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes.  Other foods include those high in plant acids such as rhubarb, kiwifruit and citrus.
Being overweight in relation to the size of your frame and the thickness of your bones puts undue stress on the joints of the lower extremities.  Keeping your weight at an optimal level has been shown to decrease your risk of developing osteoarthritis in the knee joints

Laugh heaps – laughter releases natural endorphins which helps inhibit substance P – in simple terms it reduces pain preception. Read a funny book, watch a funny film or go out for a fun night with friends and it will hopefully reduce the pain.

Supplements many assist – research has shown that glucosamine, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, SAM-E, vitamins C, D and K, minerals zinc, coppoer and boron and omega 3’s are important. Herbs such as curcumin, boswellia, ginger and devil’s claw work wonders. Topical natural creams containing menthol related compounds and capsaicin work really well.
A word of warning with supplements and herbs – ensure you get professional advise about which to take – firstly to get the right prescription for your symptoms and the best quality so that it will actually work

Need a consultation to help you lose weight, get advise on diet, supplements and life style changes to assit with your arthritis management? Then I would love to hear from you. Contact me by email or call 021 316677