OsteoarthritisIf we are suffering from osteoarthritis (OA), knee pain may be an everyday reality. The most common form of arthritis, OA occurs when cartilage in our joints wears down over time.
OA can affect any joint in our body, though it most commonly affects joints in our hands, hips, knees and spine. It gradually worsens with time, and no cure exists. Age is the most powerful predictor of OA with the prevalence of OA rising steeply with advancing age.
PreventionSelf-care techniques include maintaining good posture, avoiding grasping actions that strain our finger joints, using assistive devices and the strongest muscles, favoring large joints, spreading the weight of an object over several joints, and choosing appropriate footwear.
Eating a healthy diet emphasizing fruit, vegetables and whole grains can help us control our weight and maintain our overall health, allowing us to deal better with arthritis.
OsteoporosisOsteoporosis, which means "porous bones," causes bones to become weak and brittle. In most cases, bones weaken when we have low levels of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals in our bones.
A common result of osteoporosis is fractures. It is never too late or too early to take steps to keep bones strong and healthy throughout life.
PreventionGetting adequate calcium and vitamin D is an important factor in reducing the risk of osteoporosis. For those who already have osteoporosis, getting adequate calcium and vitamin D, as well as taking other measures, can help prevent the bones from becoming weaker.
Nutritional and Complementary Therapies
Omega-3 Fatty AcidsThere is growing evidence that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids can help people with inflammatory arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oils or oily fish.
GlucosamineGlucosamine is a natural compound that is found in healthy cartilage. Glucosamine sulphate is a normal constituent of glycoaminoglycans (GAG) in cartilage matrix and synovial fluid.
Available evidence from randomized controlled trials supports the use of glucosamine sulphate in the treatment of OA, particularly of the knees. It is believed that the sulphate moiety provides clinical benefit in the synovial fluid by strengthening cartilage and aiding GAG synthesis.
Glucosamine is commonly taken in combination with chondroitin, a GAG derived from articular cartilage. Clinical trials show that glucosamine may help reduce joint inflammation and swelling, increase joint mobility and provide relief from osteoarthritic pain.
Chondroitin SulphateChondroitin sulphate is a major constituent of cartilage, providing structure, holding water and nutrients, and allowing other molecules to move through cartilage.
Scientific evidence supports the use of chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine sulphate for improving symptoms and stopping (or possibly reversing) the degenerative process of OA.
Multiple controlled clinical trials since the 1980s have examined the use of chondroitin sulphate in patients with OA of the knees, spine, hips, and finger joints. Most of these studies have reported significant benefits in terms of symptoms (such as pain) and function (such as mobility). The weight of scientific evidence points to a beneficial effect when chondroitin sulphate is used for 6-24 months.
Nutritional supplements along with proper diet and lifestyle changes may help relieve the inflammation and pain, and slow down the degeneration of the affected joints, as well as protect bone health.