Arthritis (also referred to as inflammatory joint pain) CAN be prevented with a few simple changes to your lifestyle. Information on what food you should eat and exercises you should do to help prevent getting the worst arthritis symptoms and if you do suffer from arthritis, what treatments are available.
We march into joint problems with innocent ignorance. A poor diet full of processed sugar, excess fat, caffeine and alcohol, leads to obesity, compounded by poor posture and footwear. On these dark winter days, we rarely get the correct amount of exercise to protect our joints, putting our bodies through repeated stresses and strains with weak muscles. On top of this, it is difficult to keep a positive mindset with such negative world news.
No wonder arthritis creeps in.
My patients often ask if they have arthritis and what type. They often think that fibromyalgia is a form of arthritis.
Broadly speaking there are two kinds; osteo (OA) and rheumatoid (RA). An examination by your physiotherapist or GP with xrays and bloods should determine which it is.
OA, the most common type, is wear and tear in the smooth cartilage protecting the bones in joints, which eventually leads to bone erosion, bone spurs and unsightly bony end thickening. The joint juice, the synovial fluid, swells and becomes inflamed and sticky. The attacked bone haemorrages precious calcium. By 50 years old 8 out of 10 of us have OA and by 60, 9 out of 10. Left untreated, OA can have a massive negative impact on quality of life and eventually need surgery. When bone is very fragile, it becomes osteoporotic and breaks easily. By the age of 70, 1 in 3 ladies suffer this.
Clearly, for everyone, it is well worth investing time to prevent the worst. I have mild OA in my right knee following surgery and if I follow the plan enclosed, I keep the symptoms at bay.
RA is totally different to OA, whereby the malfunctioning of the immune system is self-destructive to joints and muscles. It is linked to genetic makeup and is believed to be triggered by a viral attack.
I am frequently asked about Fibromyalgia, but this is not arthritic or inflammatory. The symptoms of fatigue, sleepless nights and muscle pain are believed to be a malfunction of the mitochondria energy processing system in the cell.
Exercise regularly every 48 hours, including gentle exercises like Tai Chi or Yoga when you are feeling sore and stressed up, and try to exercise outside to get your daily sunshine, vital for vitamin D.
Consult a nutritionist to check for food allergies and consider a liver function test. Many natural products support the liver, including milk thistle, artichoke and dandelion.
Increase fruit and vegetable intake, especially raw. Best for arthritis are; carrots, green peppers, watercress, tomatoes, beetroot, berries, grapes, cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and kale.
Eat less red meat, dairy, sugar-laden and deep fried food, drink less alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
Increase water, ionised if possible.
Consider supplementing, and check with a nutritionist. I take high-quality antioxidants, minerals and Omega 3 & 6 every day. Calcium, magnesium and phosphorus are very important for arthritis.
For fibromyalgia, 5 HTP can help sleep, try malic acid with magnesium for pain and to boost ATP energy cycle, manganese and coenzyme Q10.
Check your blood sugar level. Vitamins C,E, manganese and chromium can help with this.
Menopause can increase the problems with arthritis and fragile bones. Mineral uptake can be poorer, vitamin D low in winter, hormone levels of oestrogen and progesterone and parathyroid can be out of kilter. There are great self help books out there, and your GP can advise you on your hormones and bone density.
If pain worsens on walking, consider a biomechanical check for your footwear.