The term arthritis is commonly used to define the painful inflammation of a joint. Symptoms most commonly referred to with arthritis are joint pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and decreased range of motion. Dictionary.com defines arthritis as “acute or chronic inflammation of a joint, often accompanied by pain and structural changes and having diverse causes, such as infection, crystal deposition, or injury.” That’s the long way of saying “my joints hurt!” Some common facts about arthritis:
- Arthritis is not a single disease, but a common way of referring to over 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions.
- More than 50 million adults (about 1 in 4) in the US and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis.
- Over $300 billion is spent annually on arthritis in arthritis attributable medical costs and lost wages.
- Arthritis is a disease, and your Doctor needs to make arthritis diagnosis.
The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to break down. Cartilage is the hard, slippery tissue that covers the ends of the bones. On a joint x-ray, cartilage shows as a white band on top of the bones, where they form the joint. Normal wear-and-tear can cause damage to the joints’ cartilage. This type of damage can occur over many years or be hastened by an injury or infection. The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis is degenerative arthritis. Osteoarthritis can be the result of the natural aging of the joint. With aging, the protein makeup of the cartilage degenerates and the water content increases. Eventually, the cartilage begins flaking or forming tiny crevasses. When there is a total loss of cartilage between the bones, you have advanced osteoarthritis. With the loss of the cartilage between the bones, the bones create friction leading to pain, inflammation, and loss of joint mobility. Secondary osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that is caused by another disease or condition. The most common causes of secondary osteoarthritis are obesity, repeated trauma or surgery to the joint structure. Obesity increases the mechanical stress of the joint and cartilage. Obesity is the most significant risk factor for osteoarthritis of the knees after aging. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune disorders are caused by the immune system attacking healthy cells in your body by mistake. With rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system targets the lining of the joints and attacks the joint capsule. Joints are surrounded by the synovial membrane and cushioned by synovial fluid. With rheumatoid arthritis, the synovial membrane becomes inflamed and swollen. Eventually, the disease can destroy cartilage and bone. Rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis are types of inflammatory arthritis. Inflammatory arthritis is the name for a group of diseases that are characterized by inflammation of the joints and other tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and lupus are just some of the diseases classified as inflammatory arthritis. Researchers believe that a combination of genetics and environmental factors can trigger autoimmunity. Genetics play an important role but do not alone determine who gets an autoimmune disease. The environmental factors that play a role may include but are not limited to, infectious agents, stress, cigarette smoke, and hormones. Infectious arthritis is caused when a virus or fungus enters the joint and causes inflammation. Salmonella and shigella, chlamydia and gonorrhea and hepatitis C are some examples of viruses that can cause infectious arthritis. Treatment with antibiotics is used to clear the infection, but sometimes arthritis becomes chronic. Gout is another type of arthritis. Also referred to as metabolic arthritis, gout is caused by high levels of uric acid. Uric acid is a chemical created when the body breaks down purines. Purines are normally produced within the body and normally pass out in the urine. Purines are also found in some foods and beverages. Liver, anchovies, mackerel, dried beans and peas, and beer have high purine content. When your body can not remove enough uric acid, it can build up and form needle-like crystals in the joint that cause sudden spikes of extreme joint pain, or a gout attack. Often, gout attacks your big toe first. It can also attack ankles, heels, wrists, fingers, and elbows. Gout can come and go in episodes or become chronic. What are your risk factors for arthritis?
- Family history
- Sex – women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while men are more likely to develop gout
- Previous joint injury
How to treat arthritis? Treatment is to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. By properly managing your arthritis you can: decrease pain, improve function, stay productive and lower health care costs. Depending on your type of arthritis, treatment may vary. Some common do’s and don’ts of arthritis: Do:
- Learn all you can about your condition
- Keep your joints moving throughout the day
- Do a full range of motion stretching
- Balance rest and activity
- Exercise – progressive strength training, low-impact aerobic exercise
- Manage any medications with your Doctor
- Mind/Body integration – massage, acupuncture, behavioral therapy
- Engage in high-impact aerobics
- Overuse repetitive movements
- Have a negative attitude
There is no diet cure for arthritis, but certain foods have been shown to fight inflammation, strengthen bones and boost the immune system, while others trigger more inflammation. Foods that may help symptoms of arthritis include:
- Omega-3 rich fish – salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), Avocado, Safflower or Walnut Oil
- Low-fat dairy products for bone strength
- Green Tea
- Citrus fruits for vitamin C
- Whole grains to lower levels of C-reactive protein in the blood (a marker of inflammation)
- Beans – red beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans
- Nuts – walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds
Food to avoid if you have arthritis:
- Saturated fats – pizza and cheese are the biggest sources of saturated fats in the American diet today
- Trans fats – avoid partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list
- High levels of Omega-6 fatty acids
- Refined carbohydrates
- Gluten and casein
Along with diet and exercise, your treatment plan for arthritis may include over the counter or prescription medications to help manage the pain, inflammation, and discomfort. If you are looking for a natural alternative, Native Remedies® has an excellent herbal supplement to support joint health and comfort – JointEase Plus™. JointEase Plus:
- Supports flexibility, movement, and comfort in muscles, joints, and cartilage
- Supports all joints moving freely
- Maintains cartilage and connective tissue health and comfort
- Supports joint health in large joints and small joints of the hands, feet, toes, elbows, and knees
- Promotes comfort and ease of movement
Maintains whole body health and healthy aging by fighting oxidative stress to cells
- Helps maintain existing health
- Supports joint and heart health
- Supports cardiovascular health
- Promotes healthy aging by fighting oxidative stress to cells
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) may also play a role in pain and inflammation response in the body. The hemp plant contains a rich source of cannabinoids that work in and with the endocannabinoid system. Native Remedies offers 2 hemp extracts to support your ECS. Here’s to natural joint pain support!
BY MARY ELLEN KOSANKE
Sources: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350772 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/in-depth/arthritis/art-20046440 https://www.arthritis.org/ https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/ https://www.medicinenet.com/osteoarthritis/article.htm#what_causes_osteoarthritis https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/inflammatory-arthritis/ https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/index.htm https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003476.htm https://medlineplus.gov/gout.html