Contrary to popular belief, arthritis is not just one disease. It is actually a complex disorder, comprising more than a hundred different conditions. It can affect any person at any stage of his life, whether he is generally healthy or suffering from some other form of degenerative disorder.
The most common forms of this disorder are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, each having very different causes, risk factors, and effects on the body, but the same common symptom: persistent pain in the joints.
Osteoarthritis (OA) or degenerative arthritis, is a condition where pain occurs in the joints due to low grade inflammation. The cause is normally attributed to the wearing and tearing of the cartilage (hence it’s more colloquial name “wear and tear”). The cartilage is that piece of tissue that covers and acts as a cushion inside joints. As the cartilage wears down, the bone surfaces between joints become less well protected, resulting in pain on the patient, particularly upon weight bearing, such as walking and standing.
To avoid the pain, a patient may decrease his movements. However, this (the decreased movements) may indirectly result in certain conditions of the regional muscles, such as atrophy and lax ligaments.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting nearly 21 million people in the United States. That accounts for 25% of visits to primary care physicians and half of an NSAID, or Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs, prescriptions.
A Green 2001 health report has revealed that an estimated 80% of the population will have shown signs of osteoarthritis by age 65, evidenced by radiographic test. However, the same report said that only 60% will be symptomatic.
Because the primary problem with osteoarthritis is the degeneration of the cartilage, which cannot ever grow back, there is unfortunately no cure for the condition. Treatment consists of NSAIDs, local glucocorticoid injections, and in severe cases, with joint replacement surgery. The goal is not to cure the disorder, which is irreversible, but to reduce the joint pain, and in that regard, science has no shortage.
The other form of arthritis, less common than OA, is rheumatoid arthritis or RA. It is a chronic, inflammatory auto immune disorder where the body’s own immune system attacks the joints. Because of pain and joint destruction as a result of this condition, rheumatoid arthritis can lead to substantial loss of mobility as well as affect many extra articular tissues of the body, such as the skin, blood vessels, heart, lungs, and muscles.
The treatment approach for this form of arthritis is different from OA. In osteoarthritis, the goal is to reduce the pain, in rheumatoid arthritis, there is actually a treatment that could halt disease progression.
There are two approaches: one is the disease modifying antirheumatic drugs or DMARDs, and anti inflammatory agents and analgesics. The former is responsible for producing durable remissions and delay or even halting the disease from progressing. The latter only treats the pain resulting from the disorder.
To determine what form of arthritis a patient suffers, X rays and blood tests are often performed on the affected joints. The type can be distinguished by the pace of the onset, the age and sex of the patient, the amount of joints affected, and additional symptoms like psoriasis, iridocyclitis, rheumatoid nodules, and Raynaud’s phenomenon – all of which can be shown through blood testing and X ray.
Arthritis is a common debilitating disease that occurs in one out of every three people in the United States. It is characterized by symptoms such as pain in the affected joints as well as inflammation. Some forms of arthritis may also affect other organs besides the joints, while others are caused by a fault in the body’s autoimmune response, causing it to attack its own tissues. But no matter the many distinct characteristics of each type of arthritis, one thing is certain: the patient who suffers from any one of the arthritic and rheumatoid conditions is in constant chronic pain.
So how do you remedy this?
Unfortunately, as far as a definitive cure to arthritis is concerned, there is none yet. Some cases of arthritis are so advanced that there is complete loss of the connective tissue such as the cartilage. Since cartilage degeneration is irreversible, the patient who suffers this condition will have to live with the fact, but with the aim of reducing or managing the pain that is associated with arthritis.
For most patients, drug therapies are the answers. Many arthritis pain relievers are available over the counter without need of a doctor’s prescription. These include non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), analgesics, and narcotic pain killers like ibuprofen. These arthritis drugs are often fast acting, but the effects are also quick to wear off. The other drug option available are much slower acting but are disease modifying – that is, they may halt the disease progression by inhibiting the release of certain chemicals in the body that cause inflammation or pain.
But with reports of a few adverse side effects caused by arthritis medications, many people are turning to more natural methods of managing the disease. One of these so-called natural methods is to keep an arthritis diet.
Although there is no proven scientific claim that arthritis diet can treat the disease, observing proper diet can only have a positive effect on the body. For years, dieticians have been recommending a kind of arthritis diet that is suitable for patients suffering this disease. In addition, studies have shown that a diet high in cholesterol and fat may contribute to the problem. This therefore shows that an arthritis diet, one that is controlled and balanced, would aid in preventing the onset of the disease in the first place.
An arthritis diet is not a strict diet. Rather, think of an arthritis diet as a list of foods that you ought to avoid and foods that may be beneficial for alleviating the symptoms.
Below are the foods that you ought to avoid while on an arthritis diet:
* Fast food restaurant soda
* Starchy foods like potatoes
* Red meat (minimal intake only)
* Foods high in saturated fat
* Greasy foods
* Fried foods
And here are the foods that may help relieve the pain:
* Fruits high in vitamin C, including oranges, apples, and strawberries
* Oily fish
* Foods high in vitamin E
* Grains, such as wheat and brown rice