All About Arthritis

Arthritis is not a glamorous disease. It does not get the headline attention like cancer, heart disease or diabetes. Yet arthritis accounts for more doctor visits, more lost workdays than any other rheumatic disorder, including back pain and is more disabling than heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hip fractures, or lung disease. The cumulative effects of decades of use and misuse leads to degenerative changes in joints. This damage is further compounded by a decreased ability by the body to repair joint structures, much of which can be attributed to poor nutritional status.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the lubricating mechanism and cushioning of joints. It is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the joints and other parts of the body. Bone surfaces are destroyed and the bones fuse together creating stiffness, swelling, fatigue and crippling pain.

Osteo, the most common form of disease, results primarily from a progressive degeneration of cartilage glycosaminoglycans (GAG). The smooth surface of the cartilage becomes rough and this results in friction. The joint becomes deformed, painful and stiff, and the muscles holding the joint together become weak. Osteo affects the weight-bearing joints like knees, hips and ankles, and tends to be more common in older people.

Nutritional intervention may well give relief to many sufferers of these debilitating conditions and this review will discuss several of the well researched natural agents that may be incorporated into a regime to help relieve the pain and inflammation associated with degenerative joint disease, concentrating mainly on osteo conditions.

Arthritis, which mainly affects joints, is not a single disease; in fact, there are over 100 different types, some of which are systemic (affect the whole body). A single agent or cause for this complex condition, the subject of long-standing and somewhat detective-like investigations over the past century, has not been determined. However, a number of factors have been implicated and/or suspected, including infectious micro organisms such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa and parasites. Physical injuries to bones and joints, nutritional deficiencies of protein, vitamins and minerals, toxic environmental pollutants, metabolic and immunological disorders, including allergies, psychological and emotional stress etc.

It can be seen that natural substances are important adjunctive agents in the treatment of inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions. By employing a natural approach, pain and inflammation may well be decreased, joint movement and flexibility improved and unpleasant side effects associated with drugs avoided.

*Article by Anthony France