When the joints start to stiffen up on your truck, you grab your grease gun, find the grease nipple, and inject some grease. Problem solved. Unfortunately, our stiff joints don't come with grease nipp...
When the joints start to stiffen up on your truck, you grab your grease gun, find the grease nipple, and inject some grease. Problem solved. Unfortunately, our stiff joints don’t come with grease nipples.
Arthritis, the main cause of joint stiffness, afflicts millions of people. According to the Arthritis Society, more than 21 million Americans suffer from either osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is considered a natural result of aging. The ends of a child’s bones are protected from wear by a thick layer of cartilage and are enclosed in small sacs of synovial fluid. This fluid acts like grease, allowing the bones to slide smoothly beside each other. But with age, bones tend to break down, and the joints become malformed and painful. As the bones degenerate, the body produces enzymes to slow down the process. Too bad these enzymes also break down cartilage. Eventually, the cartilage becomes rough, brittle, dry and pitted. This causes inflammation that affects the lining of the joints and spreads to adjacent tendons or ligaments – arthritis.
The joints affected are often weight-bearing joints (spine, knees, hips). So, if you’re carrying excess poundage, you’re creating stress and irritation for these joints. Lighten your load; reduce your pain. Strangely enough, losing weight has been shown to even decrease the pain in arthritic hands.
So get moving. Both aerobic activity and strength training will increase your physical performance and decrease your pain. Jogging and other exercises won’t make arthritis worse – even if you’re a marathon runner. So, stay active – even when you don’t feel like it.
The other type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. With this type the immune system attacks bone coverings like they are foreign tissue and tries to destroy them.
To avoid rheumatoid arthritis pay attention to what you eat. Good nutrition keeps your immune system working properly. The same diet recommended for heart health – one low in saturated fat from meats and milk products, but high in oils from fish – helps prevent or reduce the inflammation in the joints that makes rheumatoid arthritis so painful. The omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil interferes with the action of the chemicals involved in inflammation. More fish=less pain.
You’ll find Omega-3 fatty acids in fats and oils made from canola, soybean, walnut, wheat germ; and from shellfish and fish – especially: mackerel, salmon, bluefish, mullet, sablefish, menhaden, anchovy, herring, lake trout, sardines, and tuna.
Also, get enough Vitamin E. Some inflammation and swelling is caused by the breakdown of fats in the membranes within joints. Vitamin E helps to prevent this process, but doesn’t cure it. If you have active rheumatoid arthritis, it’s too late.
To get enough Vitamin E, eat more leafy green vegetables, wheat germ, whole-grain products, liver, egg yolks, nuts, and seeds. As well, stay away from milk and milk products. Many people find they aggravate rheumatoid arthritis.
Still, it takes time to get results from changes in your diet. If you need quicker relief, consider nutritional supplementation. These four compounds have been found effective in relieving the pain of arthritis: MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), a natural sulfur present in plants and the human body; glucosamine sulfate; shark cartilage; and alfalfa.
MSM impacts arthritis by reducing pain and inflammation by reducing muscle spasm around the arthritic joint and reducing the formation of scar tissue. The fluid and cartilage in arthritic joints have a significantly lower level of sulfur than in normal joints. The cartilage is about 1/3 of normal.
Even the sulfur in the fingernails of arthritic patients is 1/4 lower than normal.
MSM delivers biologically active sulfur to the body. As well, MSM improves blood flow throughout the body – making more nutrients available to repair the arthritic joint while carrying away more waste.
Glucosamine Sulfate has also been shown to improve the health of arthritic joints by relieving pain, joint tenderness and swelling.
Shark cartilage has been scientifically proven to effectively treat degenerative and inflammatory conditions. In some cases, noticeable cartilage regeneration has occurred. Alfalfa has also been seen to greatly reduce swelling, pain and joint size if taken over an extended period of time.
Participate in a joint maintenance program. Since you’re not a truck, your moveable parts don’t come equipped with grease nipples. So, give your body the tools it needs to repair itself from the inside-out and you’ll never need to scour the aftermarket for replacement parts.
– Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.