So many patients come to me complaining of swelling and tenderness in their joints. They seem to accept the fact that aches and pains are a natural part of getting old. As an orthopedic physician, I can tell you that there are changes you can make in your life right now that will help you prevent and relieve the pain.
Take my word for it, just because the clock is ticking doesn’t mean you have to give up an active life style. Let me give you a little background on the condition known as osteoarthritis (OA), along with some natural ways to manage it.
Although there are over 100 different types of arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most widespread. It affects over 20 million people in the United States and occurs more frequently after the age of 40. Women seem to be more susceptible to the disease after age 55 whereas OA is seen more frequently in men before age 45.
The source of the problem lies with a protein substance that serves as a cushion between your bones and joints called cartilage. When the smooth surface of the cartilage breaks down it becomes rough and causes irritation. Eventually this “cushion” can disappear entirely causing the ends of your bones to become damaged leaving your joints tender and painful.
Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in your body but it usually occurs in your hands, hips, knees, and spine. The cause is suspected to be a combination of factors including, obesity, age, joint injury, heredity, and muscle weakness. Many experts also agree that a breakdown of your immune system may be to blame. This can happen when viruses attack your joints and for some reason your immune system cannot fight back.
This is why it is important to take action toward the prevention at the first sign of pain or joint stiffness. Even before the symptoms begin you can build a stronger immune system for controlling the spread of disease and lessening your vulnerability of attack.
Be Pro-Active and Fight Back
Take a look at your lifestyle and work with your doctor to evaluate your diet and exercise regimen. By making a few changes in your living habits, you can take a pro-active approach to pain management as well as strengthen your immune system to fight back against disease.
• Moving your joints is important and is a key ingredient to relieving arthritis so moderate exercising is a must. Walking, swimming or yoga, are beneficial for strengthening bones, joints and muscles and improving flexibility.
• Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to keeping added strain off affected joints.
• As with any degenerative disease such as osteoarthritis, supplements with fish oil are recommended by the American Medical Association due to their natural anti-inflammatory ingredient.
• Eat a diet rich in whole grains, colorful fruits, vegetables, and cold water omega 3 fish such as salmon. Cutting back or eliminating red meat will help relieve arthritic pain since eating red meat has been known to exacerbate the risk of pain.
Home Remedies Can Really Work
Many commercial pain killers can produce serious proven side effects so many people choose to take a more holistic approach. Most of my patients are looking for quick relief from pain so they can get on with their daily routine. So I suggest they consider a few home remedies that are only minutes from reach and can work wonders.
Since the peripheral nerves are responsive to the sensation of hot and cold it only makes sense that certain topical applications can bring fast relief. When you apply topical ingredients you can actually stop the pain message from reaching your brain and fool your nervous system into believing it doesn’t exist.
If you are reading labels, and I recommend you do, make certain a mix of menthol and camphor appears on the list of ingredients. These highly potent ingredients along with Eucalyptus oil, Juniper berry Oil, Pine Oil and Camphor can penetrate the skin and result in a cooling then warming sensation when the nerve impulses reach the brain.
Along with topical applications you can also apply hot and cold compresses on the affected joints while reading a book or just relaxing. This is an easy therapy to include in your daily routine and you will be amazed at how much better you will feel.
Many natural supplements work well to combat the affects of arthritis:
• Glucosamine and chondroitin aid in promoting joint health and repair
• MSM is a sulfur compound that acts as an anti-inflammatory and can aid in reducing swelling
• Vitamin B3 or niacinamide helps maintain the cell’s tissue integrity and can slow the progression of OA
Herbal supplements have powerful anti-inflammatory properties;
• Ginger (Zingiberaceae) a 2001 study of patients with knee arthritis found that an extract of ginger reduced pain while standing and after walking. By using ginger, patients were able to reduce their pain medications after 6 weeks.
There is more and more evidence to support the fact that lifestyle changes, diet, topical treatment and home remedies can help provide relief from painful symptoms of osteoarthritis. You don’t have to give in to the aging process. Start living a pain-free life by learning to control your aches by getting your arthritis under control now.
Better yet, why not work on preventing the onset of arthritis by boosting your immune system and staying active. The result will be a happier and healthier life for years to come.