Reducing Osteoarthritis Symptoms
The more actively you care for your joints now, the better the chance of avoiding osteoarthritis later in life. What are some tangible methods of reducing osteoarthritis symptoms now? Once osteoarthritis sets in, the cartilage destruction is permanent. However, the earlier you identify the problem, the better chance you have of slowing down the progression of the disease. This can significantly help to extend mobility and quality of life.
Nutrition for Healthy Joints and Reducing Osteoarthritis Symptoms
Good nutrition is very important for joint health. Maintaining a balanced diet and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay the development of osteoarthritis. Unfortunately many people don’t give much thought to joint health until they start experiencing pain. By this stage it’s very difficult to stop the progression of the disease by good food and exercise alone.
Drugs and painkillers
Long-term sufferers of osteoarthritis are often dependent on pain relief medication. During the early stages of the disease, less potent drugs such as aspirin are often sufficient to manage the pain. As the disease progresses and the pain intensity increases, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen are frequently used.
However, these have very severe side effects if used long-term. They can damage the gastro-intestinal tract, as well as the kidneys. Also, many of these medications are unsuitable for patients with other underlying health issues, such as cardiovascular diseases for example.
Natural Remedies for Osteoarthritis
There has been a lot of research into alternative natural remedies that are great for reducing osteoarthritis symptoms. Exploring these options can help to reduce the reliance on NSAIDs. This will help to avoid the risks associated with long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs.
Omega 3 : DHA and EPA
Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA help to suppress the activity of arachidonic acid (one of the omega-6 fatty acids) and are unable to be converted into inflammatory prostaglandins. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA can help to reduce inflammation of the joints and help with pain relief.
A recent meta-analysis has confirmed that omega-3 fatty acids can assist to reduce the symptoms of pain in sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis1. The patients that participated in this study significantly reduced their NSAID consumption. They took 2.7g of omega-3 fatty acids every day for a period of three months to achieve these results.
Glucosamine and chondroitin
Currently, the most promising approach to natural pain management is the combination of omega-3 fatty acids with glucosamine sulfate. In one study, researchers used 1,500 mg glucosamine sulfate per day in combination with omega-3 fatty acids2. Over a period of 26 weeks, the study participants were interviewed about the degree of pain relief they were experiencing.
Patients with combined therapy had significantly less pain. Their degree of morning joint stiffness and loss of motion was much less when compared with the group only taking glucosamine sulfate. Neither combination showed long-term side effects. Researchers believe that this approach could be developed into a safe treatment method. They are confident that a combination of glucosamine and omega-3 fatty acids help in reducing osteoarthritis symptoms and even slow the disease progression.
Pine bark extract
Tree bark extracts have been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. The extract from the French maritime pine contains many proanthocyanidins. These compounds have anti-inflammatory and circulation-enhancing effects, helping to reduce pain without negative side effects.
Vitamins, amino acids and trace elements
The body must have sufficient vitamins, sulfur-containing amino acids and trace elements available to regenerate the cartilage matrix. Unfortunately, rarely do individuals receive enough of these vital nutrients from their diet.
According to studies by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection
- about 90% of older people are deficient in vitamin D,
- about 50% of older people are deficient in vitamin E
- about 30% of older people are deficient in vitamin C
- about 25% of older people are deficient in zinc and/or selenium.
These are just a few examples. Nutritional deficiencies are known to contribute to increased susceptibility to joint diseases, such as osteoarthritis and arthritis.
- Lee, YH. et al. 2012. “Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: a meta-analysis.” Arch Med Res. 43(5):356-362. ↩
- Gruenwald, J. et al. 2009. “Effect of glucosamine sulfate with or without omega-3 fatty acids in patients with osteoarthritis.” Advances in Therapy. 26(9):858-871. ↩