Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in America. It is frequently called degenerative arthritis, because there is literally a degeneration of cartilage, which usually serves as a cushion between bones. When cartilage breaks down, bones grind against each other causing irritation and pain.
Osteoarthritis is much more common in women than in men. Unfortunately, by the age of 60, most people have some degree of osteoarthritis, though many have no significant symptoms until the disease is far advanced.
What can I do to decrease my risk?
While most of us will develop some degree of osteoarthritis as we age, there are some things you can do to lessen the impact and slow the progression of this common disorder.
• Exercise regularly and do warm-up exercises before any strenuous activity. (Remember to consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program).
• Wear knee pads if you spend a lot of times on your knees, such as while gardening.
• Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts more strain on your joints and can accelerate the disease. As a matter of fact, the American College of Rheumatology recently reported new research which shows that obese persons who lose as little as 15 pounds may experience close to a 50 percent decrease in symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. This finding has tremendous implications for those who suffer from this disease!
• Avoid trauma to joints.
How is osteoarthrits treated?
The goals of treatment are to decrease pain and optimize mobility. There are various treatment options available to achieve these goals, but here we will focus on prescription-free options.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, certain vitamins have been shown to improve symptoms of osteoarthritis in some people. Vitamins C, D, and E have shown promise in some studies, though keep in mind that obtaining these vitamins by way of whole foods is believed to be better than just taking vitamin supplements.
Glucosamine and chondoitan sulfate are alternative remedies that have been proven to provide significant relief of mild to moderate osteoarthritis pain in many. As a matter of fact, studies show that many osteoarthritis suffers who take these supplements experience as much pain relief as their counterparts who take prescription-strength pain relievers called NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen.
While these natural supplements are not cheap, when deciding whether or not to try them, one should consider the potential for adverse side effects from NSAIDS, including their potential to cause stomach ulcers, internal bleeding, kidney problems, and fluid retention, to name a few.
Other popular treatment options for osteoarthritis include physical therapy, acetaminophen, and topical creams. Always ask your doctor before you begin any new OTC (over-the-counter) medication, including natural supplements. Even these seemingly harmless agents have the potential to do great harm, in certain circumstances.
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