Osteoarthritis (or degenerative arthritis) is a common type of arthritis which affects more than 15 million Americans. It is often described as “wear and tear” arthritis as it trails the cartilage breakdown in a joint, leading to abnormal bone changes eventually. Joints that are most commonly affected are the knees, hips, spine, hands, and toes.
It is not a systemic condition. Meaning, it does not spread throughout the body, instead affects only the joint or joints where the deterioration has occurred.
The joints part in human bones is to provide support, stability, flexibility, and shelter to the skeleton so that limbs and the body as a whole can move freely. Cartilage coat each bone ends, serving as a cushion so that you may not feel any pain during friction. But as the cartilage loses elasticity, it becomes vulnerable to damage from repetitive use and causes a great deal of pain and swelling. Synovium, a fluid-filled sac surrounding the joints as well as the provider of oxygen and nutrients to the joint components, can be also inflamed. In advance cases, cartilage cushion between the bone and joints is totally damaged that joint mobility is almost impossible.
There is no single identified cause of osteoarthritis though it can result from trauma or repetitive use. Also, there are two possible causes where experts referred to.
This type of osteoarthritis is caused by aging. When a person ages, the protein portion in the cartilage degenerates as the water content increases.
This is typically caused by another condition or diseases such as infectious disease, joint surgery, repeated trauma, and gout. Obesity has found out to be a contributor as well. It is because excess weight adds pressure on the cartilage, particularly on the knee joints and hips.
Symptoms that osteoarthritis patients have are usually a pain in the affected joints. This occurs after frequent use of the specific joints especially later in the day. Swelling, pain, stiffness may also experience after a long period of inactivity. It usually happened when waking in the morning, but it can be subsided with activity and simple movements.
An advance osteoarthritis case can result in a total loss of cartilage where a patient may experience continuous pain even when resting.
Patients with osteoarthritis in the spine may experience pain in the neck or lower back. A developed bony spur can irritate the exiting nerve from the spine and may result in tingling, numbness, and severe pain in the limbs or back.
On the other hand, osteoarthritis in the fingers can result in hard bony enlargements. Bunions can form as well at the base of the big toe if the feet are affected.
Symptoms have a different degree in each individual. Some patients may be completely weak, while others, in spite of the severe condition may only experience a few symptoms. Some symptoms may also be intermittent; while some may go relatively symptom-free for long periods of time.
Treatment for osteoarthritis requires a lifestyle change. It includes losing a few pounds if you are overweight as it can improve extra mechanical stress on the affected joints. Also, intense activities are advised to avoid because it can strain or injure the joint cartilage. Nevertheless, it is recommended to do exercises but it should be done at a mild level so that the joint might not be stress too much. It is necessary to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint so it can protect and support it. Physical activity can assist in this matter.
Some of the suggested safe activities are light weight training, stationary cycling, and swimming, as the joints only receive little stress.
Dietary changes are also advisable as it may help alleviate or reduce the pain caused by osteoarthritis. Take note that it is not possible for a specific food or nutritional supplements to cure osteoarthritis but certain diets can improve patient symptoms according to the Arthritis Foundation. Several foods have anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce symptoms while other foods may amplify them.
Listed below are the food that you can eat to improve osteoarthritis
The omega-3 fatty acids that oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon, and tuna have anti-inflammatory capabilities. People with osteoarthritis should aim to eat at least one portion of oily fish per week. Those who are not fond of fishes can take supplements that contain omega-3 instead. Other sources of omega-3 and can help fight inflammation are fish oil, krill oil, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, and walnuts.
Additional options that can reduce inflammation include extra virgin olive oil, avocado, and safflower oils. Extra virgin olive oil has high levels of oleocanthal, which may have similar properties to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). On the other hand, avocado and safflower oils may help to lower cholesterol.
Aside from the extremely good taste, green tea contains high levels of polyphenols, which, according to experts, may be able to reduce inflammation and slow the rate of cartilage damage.
Dark leafy greens
Some examples of dark leafy greens are spinach, chard, collard greens, and kale. These dark leafy greens possess stress-fighting phytochemicals and antioxidants. It also rich in vitamin D which is essential for calcium absorption; plus it can boost the immune system to help fight infection.
It is believed by the scientist that the compound diallyl disulfide may work against the enzymes in the body that damage the cartilage. Fortunately, garlic is rich in diallyl disulfide.
This vegetable is rich in vitamins K and C as well as calcium, which is the bone strengthener. But most of all, broccoli contains the compound called sulforaphane. Researchers believe that sulforaphane could slow down the progression of osteoarthritis.
Nuts are good for the heart and it also contains high levels of magnesium, calcium, zinc, fiber, and vitamin E. Furthermore, it contains ALA (or alpha-linolenic acid) which is one of the immune system’s boosters.
Increasing the bone strength may improve painful symptoms of the osteoarthritis. You may want to add foods that are rich in calcium plus vitamin D like milk, yogurt, and cheese.
Patients who are aiming to manage their weight can choose low-fat dairy products. Additionally, dairy contains proteins that can help build muscles.