Prevention & Healing for Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a chronic, degenerative disease that occurs when the cartilage between bones and joints wears down, allowing bones to rub together instead of providing protection and lubrication. This leads to pain, stiffness, and sometimes functional impairment and disability. The symptoms can have a significant impact on one’s quality of professional, emotional, social, and family life.
Osteoarthritis is most common in the weight-bearing joints: knees, hips, feet, and spine. The main components of healthy joints include cartilage, water, proteoglycans, collagen (provides tensile strength), muscles and ligaments (provides support and protection), and nerve endings (for proprioceptive information). Cartilage covers the ends of bones where they meet the joints, and deterioration over time can affect the shape and functionality of the joints, making it painful and difficult to carry out everyday tasks.
Age and genetic predisposition cannot be modified, but you can act to delay the onset of osteoarthritis and stop it from evolving. It is essential to reduce the main risk factors: being overweight, joint injury, repeated micro-trauma, and various lower limb abnormalities.
Two Types of Osteoarthritis
Primary Osteoarthritis: Wear and tear process with decreased ability to restore and rebuild cartilage.
Secondary Osteoarthritis: Predisposing factors like trauma and inherited abnormality.
Causes and Contributors
-An Inflammatory diet, containing: Gluten, Nightshade family foods, Allergens
-Excess weight - causes increased stress on joints
-Age-related changes in collagen matrix
-Insulin resistance - increases inflammation and impairs collagen regeneration
-Lack of exercise - decreases hydration of joint and nutrient influx and muscle weakness increases joint wear
-Fractures and mechanical damage
Typically, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are suggested, such as Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or aspirin. These medications address pain and inflammation. However, they do not assist in regeneration of the necessary components of the joint. In fact, they may inhibit cartilage synthesis and are toxic to the liver and gastrointestinal tract. NSAIDs may promote the disease process.
Inflammation is one of the major causes of the pain and decreased cartilage that occurs in osteoarthritic conditions. An anti-inflammatory diet involves consuming foods that reduce inflammation and avoiding foods that increase inflammation.
Foods that trigger an inflammatory response include : refined sugar, hydrogenated oils (soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil), refined conventional grains, and vegetables in the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers). These are foods that should be eliminated from the diet.
Foods that stimulate an anti-inflammatory response in the body are: omega 3 fatty acid-containing foods (chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, coconut products, olive oil, avocado, olives), non-starchy vegetables (especially bok choy, celery, beets), nuts (almonds, walnuts), fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines), berries, green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, arugula, Swiss, chard), pineapple, bone broth, and herbs (turmeric, ginger)
Collagen & Silica rich foods support repair rebuilding. Best sources: Bone Broth, Collagen Powder, Wild-Caught Fish,
Foods that Contain Nutrients Required for Cartilage Synthesis
These nutrients include: Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Pyridoxine (Vitamin B5), Boron, Copper, Zinc
Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acid-containing foods have potent anti-inflammatory effects. Healthy food sources of omega-3’s are wild-caught salmon, grass-fed beef, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, olive oil, and avocado.
A component of sulfur is methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). This compound is beneficial for healing and preventing osteoarthritis because it reduces joint inflammation, helps rebuild tissues in the joint, and lowers pain and function impairment. Foods that contain considerable amounts of sulfur are onions, garlic, asparagus, and cabbage.
Every joint needs lubrication to move smoothly and function optimally, and joint cartilage is made up mostly of water. Drinking water helps prevent osteoarthritis for many reasons. It increases energy to the arthritis-affected joints and muscles, it helps remove toxin and waste around joints and muscle, and it helps to relieve inflammation, which naturally diminishes pain. Water is also helpful in decreasing weight, which is beneficial for taking the load off of weight-bearing joints. There are many nutrients needed for joint health, and water acts as a food digestive agent that absorbs essential nutrients from food that can be delivered to all joints.
One of the main components of the joint is cartilage, and bone broth is one of the best natural sources of collagen. It contains high amounts of the amino acids proline and glycine that mainly help rebuild connective tissue. Bone broth is composed of antioxidants that help lower inflammation and joint pain, such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates.
Foods with antioxidants help prevent and heal osteoarthritis by reducing free radical damage and supporting all body systems. Foods that contain the highest amount of antioxidants are fruit and vegetables. It is essential to consume foods of every color because each color offers different types of nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, magnesium, potassium, digestive enzymes and anti-inflammatory compounds, which are essential for supporting overall health.
Foods rich in antioxidants: leafy greens, berries, cruciferous vegetables, melons, papaya, avocado, and pineapple.
Reason: Stimulates production of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), promotes incorporation of sulfur into joints, and has been shown to decrease pain and inflammation better than medications
Reason: It is a mixture of intact and partially hydrolyzed GAGs that stimulated cartilage synthesis
Reason: This is an important GAG in joints due to its structural role and ability to maintain joint hydration
Reason: This vitamin is required for the formation of cartilage and may reduce cartilage loss and progression of osteoarthritis. It works synergistically with Vitamin E.
Turmeric & Ginger. Both high in anti-inflammatory properties.
Boswellia. Made from frankincense, it inhibits inflammation, prevents decreased GAG synthesis, and reduces joint pain and swelling. It also improves blood supply to joints by restoring blood vessels around the inflamed connective tissue. This herb comes in tablet or capsule form.
Grape Seed and Pine Bark Extracts. Both have anti-inflammatory properties.
Supportive Healing Modalities
Infrared light increases peripheral circulation, which provides the transport needed to help evacuate edema. This can help with inflammation, decrease pain, and help speed up the healing process of osteoarthritis.
To maximize the increased circulation effects, after leaving the sauna, engage in a stretching session. This will further improve collagen tissue elasticity and relax tight muscles to decrease their pull on the joints. The body also heats up in an infrared sauna which reduces pain sensation by directly acting on free-nerve endings in tissues and on peripheral nerves. Infrared sauna treatments can help reverse chronic pain with minimal to no side effects, making it a great alternative to medical intervention.
Both aerobic and resistance training should be practiced. Daily exercises, such as walking, swimming, and cycling are non-load bearing, making them easy on the joints while conditioning the muscles. Resistance training builds strength in the muscles, bones, and joints. If the muscles are not healthy, joints have increased susceptibility to slipping out of alignment, causing increased pain. It is common for people with osteoarthritis to experience pain when beginning to engage in physical activity. This is normal. Starting slow and increasing duration and resistance will be beneficial for lowering inflammation, regulating hormones, and preventing unnecessary replacement surgeries.
Achieving an ideal body weight for your height and activity level is needed to reduce strain on joints, as well as reduce fat. Accumulated fat can cause problems to the joints because it releases hormones and chemicals, including those that promote inflammation.
Walking daily & implementing low-impact resistance training a few days a week is best. Stretch before and after the workout will enhance flexibility and improve range of motion.
Acupuncture can be helpful for reducing osteoarthritis pain. Electro-acupuncture (in which the needles transmit a small electrical current) performed on patients with osteoarthritis of the knee often improves pain, stiffness and physical function, and it reduces markers of inflammation. Besides promoting an anti-inflammatory effect, acupuncture releases endogenous opioid endorphins (the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals).
Short-wave diathermy (SWD) is a form of electromagnetic therapy, which causes movement of ions, distortion of molecules, and creation of eddy currents and as a result heat is produced in deep tissue. Its claimed mechanism of action includes inducing an anti-inflammatory response, reducing joint stiffness, stimulating connective tissue repair, and reducing muscle spasm and pain.
Laser therapy, also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT), is a light source that generates pure light of a single wavelength. The effect produced by laser therapy is not thermal (heat). Instead, it has to do with photochemical reactions in cells. In this treatment, the lasers change cellular function, bringing temporary relief from arthritic pain. By stimulating blood flow and the cells in the area of pain, low-level laser therapy helps to restore the body be re-energizing the area.
Magnesium Flake baths.
Made of magnesium chloride, they provide a soothing, comforting feeling for arthritic pain as they help draw out carbon. This is also a perfect way to absorb magnesium directly to the bloodstream.