Arthritis - Osteoarthritis
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that typically affects weight-bearing joints and hands. This disease is caused by the loss of protective cartilage in joints. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, and treatments generally aim to reduce load (losing weight to remove stress from joints), improve joint support, and relieve pain.
Pain relief often comes from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); however, some people are not aware that excessive use of NSAIDs can cause liver and kidney damage. NSAIDs also cannot help with rebuilding damaged joint cartilage and are purely palliative.
Natural interventions such as undenatured type-II collagen and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) may help manage osteoarthritis causes and symptoms.
What are the Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis?
- Advanced age
- Female gender
- Intense joint wear-and-tear (high-impact sports, physical labor)
- Joint trauma
- Family history
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?
- Joint pain
What are the Conventional Medical Treatments for Osteoarthritis?
Note: Treatments generally begin with the least invasive options. If the disease does not respond, then more aggressive approaches can be considered.
- Physical therapy/exercise
- Acetaminophen or NSAIDs
- Corticosteroid and hyaluronic acid injections
- Joint-replacement surgery
What are Emerging Therapies for Osteoarthritis?
- Tanezumab is an antibody against nerve growth factor (which plays a significant role in pain transmission) that can reduce pain intensity
- Stem cell treatment
- Hormone replacement therapy for postmenopausal women
- Apitherapy (treatment with bee venom, alone or in combination with acupuncture)
What Dietary and Lifestyle Changes Can Help Osteoarthritis?
- Exercise, at least 30 minutes of walking 3 days per week
What Natural Interventions May Help Osteoarthritis?
- Glucosamine. Glucosamine is a component of glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans, which help provide cartilage the flexibility it needs to function. Glucosamine has been shown to reduce the severity of osteoarthritis symptoms.
- Chondroitin. This complex sugar molecule is found in connective tissue and contributes lubrication to cartilage. Chondroitin has been shown to reduce pain and increase joint function in patients with osteoarthritis.
- Hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a building block for cartilage. When administered orally or intra-articularly, hyaluronic acid has demonstrated pain relief and increased functionality in patients with osteoarthritis.
- Sulfur compounds such as methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and keratin. These compounds can reduce pain and inhibit the degenerative quality of osteoarthritis. Both MSM and keratin treatments have been shown to relieve pain and improve joint functionality.
- S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). SAMe may stimulate the production of cartilage, leading to reduced pain and stiffness in patients with osteoarthritis.
- Proteolytic enzymes. Various proteolytic enzymes, including bromelain, have been shown to reduce pain and increase functionality in osteoarthritis. A supplement containing bromelain was more effective than the NSAID diclofenac in a clinical trial.
- Undenatured type-II collagen. The gradual destruction of joint cartilage exposes collagen, causing an immune response and inflammatory attack on the joint. Treatment with undenatured collagen may help reduce this inflammation and induce tolerance, leading to enhanced daily activities in patients with osteoarthritis.
- Other anti-inflammatory options are soy and avocado oil, omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, ginger, Korean angelica, vitamin D, and green tea, among others.