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Team Inspiriko - April 2022

7 Natural Ways To Treat Osteoarthritis Pain

Arthritis is a chronic condition that affects joints and is associated with severe joint pain and reduced quality of life; nearly half of all adults have experienced arthritis. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, but the most common ones are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Both conditions impair joint structure but differ in symptoms, treatment, and pathophysiology.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OSTEOARTHRITIS AND RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

According to NHS, osteoarthritis is commonly known as degenerative joint disease, a common type of arthritis that is an inflammatory disease associated with various factors like synovitis, obesity, mechanical stress, metabolic diseases, and oxidative stress. Osteoarthritis is characterised by factors such as cartilage degeneration and changes in the underlying bone.

At the same time, Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic condition involving inflammation and immune dysregulation that affect multiple bones. The risk factor for developing RA is genetics (females are at higher risk). The symptoms include swelling, tenderness and joint stiffness in the morning. Patients with Rheumatoid arthritis face a high rate of disability and it can lead to permanent deformity.

In this article we focus on Osteoarthritis, the more common form of arthritis

SYMPTOMS OF OSTEOARTHRITIS

Osteoarthritis symptoms develop slowly and can, with time, worsen. According to Cleveland clinic. They include;

•  Surging around the affected joint might swell, presumably caused by tissue inflammation.
•  Pain occurs when moving or working out. Depending on the effect, you can categorise it as severe or moderate.
•  Tenderness. The joint tenderness is felt once you apply pressure on the affected area.
•  Stiffness of the joints. It is experienced immediately upon waking up and when you have been inactive for some time.
•  Bone spurs are excess or unnecessary small particles of bone; they might feel like hard lumps and mostly form around impacted joints, making it impossible to move around.
•  Loss of flexibility; affecting movement. This is encountered when moving your joint to full range.
•  The grating sensation. It is usually experienced when moving or working out; you will hear the cracking and popping sounds.

CAUSES OF ARTHRITIS

Most of these symptoms develop depending on several factors. They include;

• Body changes come with age that cause muscle weakness. It is mainly experienced from the age of 40years.
• Osteoarthritis is most common in women. Oestrogen is associated with reducing pain in women, especially right after menstruation and when childbearing. When menopause kicks in, the oestrogen produced reduces, which can lead to severe pain experienced.
• Being overweight causes several chronic diseases, and osteoarthritis is not an exemption. Mostly affected are the weight-bearing joints like the hips and knees.
• The rare forms of osteoarthritis are linked with gene mutations that affect collagen, a protein. These genes can be inherited, causing more severe joint pains than usual and joint abnormalities, whether born with or acquired in childhood.
• Major operations, very hard, repetitive exercise, and activities will increase your chances of osteoarthritis in the near future.
• Weather only affects the symptoms without causing the disease. Most people experience the worst pain when the weather changes from rising to falling atmospheric pressure; during rainy seasons.
• Some people find particular food more likely to increase or lessen the pain and symptoms they are facing. But in reality, weight determines your diet, increasing your chances of developing and suffering from osteoarthritis, according to Mayo clinic.

7 WAYS TO TREAT OSTEOARTHRITIS NATURALLY

Natural ways to treat osteoarthritis are advocated due to the side effects associated with pharmacotherapy treatment.

These include cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and nephrotoxic effects.

This limits their use and pushes physicians and patients to weigh the risks and benefits of the treatment they decide to use. As a woman significantly above the age of 40, it is advised to explore natural methods to treat osteoarthritis.

 We list below our top 7 ways to treat osteoarthritis naturally.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Glucosamine and chondroitin are produced naturally and are found in connective tissues that cushion the healthy cartilage. Cartilage gradually degenerates as you age, leading to joint pain and swelling.

Glucosamine and chondroitin, when used together, have anti-inflammatory properties, protect cells called chondrocytes, which help maintains the cartilage structure, and slow its cartilage deterioration, reducing pain and discomfort. They are considered safe for daily use.

Well designed clinical studies report no severe side effects from using both of these supplements. However, they might affect sugar levels and interact with certain medications like, blood thinners. Potential side effects include nausea, heartburn, constipation, and diarrhoea.

MSM

It is scientifically known as methylsulfonylmethane, and medical practitioners believe it counters oxidative stress helping manage Osteoarthritis symptoms. It is known for improving antioxidant capacity by suppressing interleukin 1-beta (IL-1b) and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a). It is also a naturally occurring compound in plenty of foods. The main benefit is offering pain relief by acting as an anti-inflammatory which protects the cartilage. Food rich in MSM includes; milk, grains, fish, and fruits and vegetables.

Eating Foods Containing Vitamin C

Vitamin C has the ability to anti-oxidise, enabling it to reduce and stabilise damaging free radical compounds that are essential to the body. These supplements are used for maintaining healthy joints and preventing osteoarthritis. It is also used to fight inflammation-related infection, synthesise collagen, and prevent the worsening of this condition.

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Turmeric

Turmeric has been commonly known for medicinal values since time immemorial. One of its values is acting as an anti-inflammatory, where it inhibits pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. It also regulates the immune system. An individual may experience manageable side effects, like nausea and diarrhoea. Pregnant women who suffer from iron deficiency should refrain from taking these supplements. According to FDA turmeric ingredients are considered safe if the correct dose is taken.

Acupuncture

It is a traditional Chinese medicine used as an ancient treatment, and it is still under debate. Today, it is used as an inflammatory, reducing pain since it stimulates nerve fibres that block out pain signals, relaxes the muscles, and improves blood flow, but scientific evidence is yet to be produced. Acupuncture is associated with short-term side effects such as; nausea, drowsiness, dizzy feelings, and bruising: it should only be performed by a trained professional to reduce risks.

Regular exercise

According to the CDC, exercise and working out are crucial for individuals suffering from osteoarthritis; it increases flexibility, help get rid of fatigue, reduce joint pain, maintain bone strength, and strengthen muscles around the joints. Walking around the block is the main exercise that applies to everyone.

Hot and cold compress

For joint stiffness, use hot compressions. According to the arthritis foundation, when using hot compression, use disposable heat patches, stretching in heated swimming pools, a warm bath, and hot packs. For joint pain, using cold compression such as ice packs will help reduce sharp pains and inflammation. 

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

If you experience the indications of osteoarthritis that don’t go away after some time, increases with time or don’t respond to natural alternatives take the initiative and make an appointment with your orthopaedic doctor. The symptoms include; pain, swelling, stiffness, tenderness, loss of flexibility, and grating sensation.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Osteoarthritis, a common condition that affects most joints in the body, can be potentially managed by using natural alternatives like turmeric, vitamin c supplements, hot and cold compression, regular exercise, and MSM.

The condition causes severe joint pains, stiffness, tenderness, and swelling. These symptoms are age and gender dependent; women are at higher risk than men due to diet and genetic factors. Women aged 40 years and above should particularly be careful. They should consider regular exercise and natural alternatives to manage their symptoms.

Professional check-ups for those experiencing persistent symptoms are highly recommended.

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