Osteoarthritis and Food
Why Do We Experience Osteoarthritis Pain?
There’s an even chance that every one of us during his or her life will develop osteoarthritis. The resulting osteoarthritis pain can have a severe impact on a person’s life, and that’s why medical science has worked so hard to understand the condition.
Osteoarthritis brings pain and decreased mobility as the cartilage that provides padding between bones wears away with activity and age. Once this cushioning is gone, bones rub against one another with the uncomfortable results you might expect. You’re particularly likely to feel osteoarthritis pain as joint pain in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.
That’s basically the process, but doctors are learning it’s actually somewhat more complicated than that. Osteoarthritis involves changes in the bone underneath the cartilage (or the place where the cartilage was) and the synovium (the joint lining) as well. Inflammation produces free radicals, cell-damaging molecules that attack the synovium as readily as they do other parts of the body. Thus, osteoarthritis is an illness of the entire joint.
Interventions for Osteoarthritis Pain
There are a number of possible interventions for the joint pain and loss of mobility that result from osteoarthritis. Let’s look at a number of the other options before zeroing in on the relationship between osteoarthritis and food.
Osteoarthritis and Medication
For years, medication has been used to control osteoarthritis symptoms. Sufferers have taken non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen for pain, steroid injections to reduce inflammation, and viscosupplements to replace a joint’s natural lubrication.
Doctors may recommend treatment in the form of oral medication, topical creams and ointments, or corticosteroid or hyaluronic acid injections.
More recently, scientists have been looking at the osteoporosis drug strontium renelate. It was originally used to treat bone loss in European countries, but now it appears that it may fight osteoarthritis as well. Strontium may inhibit cell activity in osteoclasts, which are cells that break down bone, and this in turn may combat osteoarthritis by protecting the bone underlying the affected cartilage.
A preliminary study found that patients who took strontium had less narrowing of the joint than those who didn’t. It wasn’t a big difference, but it did indicate the potential value of further research.
It’s also possible that stem cells, with their capability to turn into many different kinds of cells, can help repair damaged tissue and thus, delivered by knee injections or other joint injections, fight osteoarthritis. This points to the usefulness of stem cell replacement as provided by PalinGen and PalinGenFlo.
Because injections are administered to osteoarthritis, a localized condition, only where it presents itself, they can avoid the body-wide side effects of drugs taken by other means.
Osteoarthritis and Surgery
When other measures fail, some patients undergo joint replacement surgery. Others are reluctant due to concerns that recovery will take months and that during that time they won’t be able to take care of themselves. The reality, though, is that many sufferers do well after surgery, and patients who fail to obtain relief by other methods shouldn’t reject this option out of hand. They should discuss it with their doctors.
Simple Measures to Relieve Osteoarthritis Pain
Happily, for many, medication and joint replacement aren’t the only ways to address joint pain and loss of mobility. Here are some other possibilities:
Some sufferers derive relief from massage to increase blood flow and ease sore spots. Because arthritic joints are so sensitive, a massage therapist with expertise in treating arthritis is your best bet for helping rather than aggravating your condition.
A warm bath, cold compresses, or a makeshift cold compress in the form of a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel can relieve pain. Some patients find that alternating between heat and cold works well.
Some people report relief from taking the nutritional supplements glucosamine and chondroitin although research has cast doubt on the idea that they generally represent a powerful disease-altering therapy.
Exercise can be effective for reducing pain, improving mobility, and strengthening the muscles supporting joints afflicted with osteoarthritis. Just start slowly and increase slowly with the guidance of a qualified professional like your doctor or a physical therapist. That will keep your muscles properly balanced.
With all that said, though, no one should overlook another important potential source of osteoarthritis pain relief. Many sufferers derive considerable benefit simply from eating the right things.
Osteoarthritis Pain and Diet
When you’re considering your diet in relation to osteoarthritis, one of the first things to assess honestly is whether you’re overweight. If you are, you’re putting added stress on your damaged joints. Meanwhile, your extra fat, which is metabolically active, produces chemicals and hormones that increase inflammation. All of this is making your joints hurt worse.
So start a sensible program to drop those excess pounds. Such a program might focus on dining in instead of eating out, eating smaller portions, avoiding high-calorie foods, and having meals with a lot of produce. Starting meals with soup is a good trick for controlling hunger.
Beyond that, know that certain foods contain antioxidants that combat the free radicals involved in the progression of osteoarthritis.
That includes foods that provide Vitamin C, an antioxidant required for cartilage development (conversely, a deficiency can weaken cartilage.) Foods rich in Vitamin C include citrus and tropical fruits, cantaloupe, raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, bell peppers, tomatoes, and cruciferous vegetables like kale, cauliflower, and broccoli.
Beta carotene is another powerful antioxidant. You can find it in any fruit or vegetable like a carrot that has a bright orange color. You can aget it in sweet potatoes, winter squash, parsley, apricots, cantaloupe, tomatoes, asparagus, peppermint leaves, cruciferous vegetables like chard, mustard and collard greens, and Brussels sprouts, and greens like spinach and romaine lettuce.
Some studies suggest that Vitamin D can help prevent cartilage breakdown and joint space narrowing. You can get Vitamin D from sunlight (preferably after using sunscreen), but you can also find it in eggs, fortified milk, and seafood like shrimp, sardines, cod, and wild-caught salmon.
Some foods are fortified with Vitamin D or calcium. You may find it in orange juice, yogurt, tofu, or breakfast cereal.
Bioflavonoids like anthocyanidins and quercetin are also antioxidants. Quercetin may have an anti-inflammatory effect like that of NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen. You can find quercetin in apples with the skin still on, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, black currants, blueberries, cocoa powder, lingonberries, green tea, apricots, leeks, kale, and white, red, and yellow onions.
Some spices have an anti-inflammatory effect, notably ginger and turmeric. Turmeric contains a lot of curcumin, which may fight osteoarthritis by suppressing body chemicals that give rise to inflammation.
Margarine, butter, beans, and olive and canola oil may also fight inflammation.
Unlike certain other fats, Omega-3 fatty acids help to decrease inflammation. They do this by inhibiting the production of enzymes and cytokines that attack cartilage. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in ground flax or flaxseed oil, walnuts, rainbow trout, Pacific oysters, salmon (either wild, fresh, or canned will do), anchovies, sardines, mackerel (except king mackerel), herring, and Omega-3-fortified eggs.
It’s a good idea, though, not to get your Omega-3 fatty acids from red meat and egg yolks. Other foods that osteoarthritis sufferers should limit or avoid entirely are fried foods including French fries, backed goods, packaged cookies, crackers, and any kind of processed food high in sugar, and fruit juices.