Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, causing pain and discomfort in affected joints in the body.
The symptoms of OA can be painful and frustrating to live with, but they can be managed more effectively with the use of a few star players such as glucosamine, chondroitin, manganese and boron.
What is Osteoarthritis?
OA is a long-term degenerative disease that affects many people, with the Southern Cross Healthcare Group estimating that over 300,000 Kiwis today live with its effects.
It affects the cartilage in hands, feet and other weight-bearing joints such as hips, knees and the spine, causing it to become thin and worn-down. As the main function of cartilage is to protect the ends of the bones at each joint, this means that OA-affected joints eventually become swollen, stiff and difficult to move.
For most people, the first signs of impending OA can be found in joints becoming stiff after long periods of inactivity, swelling in or around the joint and pain when the joint is both in use and at rest.
The symptoms of OA are hard to ignore. Feeling pain when moving or putting weight onto the arthritic joint, stiffness, noticeable swelling are all symptoms of the disease. People may also suffer a deformity of the joint where bone growths occur either in the end joints (Heberden's nodes) or the middle joints (Bouchard’s nodes) of the fingers.
Another common symptom of OA is crepitus, the term used to describe the crackling sound heard when the joint is moved. This sound is due to bones rubbing against one another or against rough, worn-down cartilage in the joint.
Typically, OA starts after people have reached their late 40s or even after that. However, other factors such as being overweight and having other joint injuries can increase the risk of getting the disease.
Women are also more prone to getting OA, and a family history of the disease has been shown to play a role in getting OA of the fingers and hands (less so in the hips and knees).
A diagnosis of OA comes from a physical examination and analysis of the symptoms. A doctor will feel the joint to assess whether there is any swelling or creaking, and x-rays and MRI scans may also be used to provide a full confirmation.
Managing the symptoms
Managing the symptoms of OA can help to ease the pain and give sufferers much-needed relief. Painkillers and other medication are typically prescribed to deal with the symptoms, while anti-inflammatory drugs can be given to reduce the swelling around a joint.
One of the main symptoms of OA is stiffness of the joints, so working on your joint mobility through a targeted exercise routine can be very effective for reducing pain and improving joint movement.
Combined with a balanced diet, this can help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid placing any extra pressure on your joints through excess fat.
As OA results in a loss of the vital cartilage in affected joints, working to produce and regenerate lost cartilage can help significantly in easing the pain and discomfort associated with the condition.
Relieving pain from OA
Substances such as glucosamine and chondroitin play an important role in the formation and support of cartilage in the body.
Glucosamine is a natural compound. Together with protein, it forms aggrecan, a critical part of the cartilage structure that helps provide elasticity, resilience and shock absorption. Boosting your intake of glucosamine can help to increase joint mobility by supporting these properties within your cartilage.
Chondroitin is another natural compound within the cartilage structure, working to deter the enzymes that break down the cartilage and acting as one of the ‘building blocks’ for the production of new cartilage.
The minerals manganese and boron are two other star players in the process. Manganese is important for the formation of connective tissues and bones, while boron helps to form strong bones and joints.
We’d Love Your Feedback
Do you suffer from Osteoarthritis?
If yes, what do you do to help relieve the pain in your joints?
Have you tried a natural supplement such as glucosamine or chondroitin, and did it work?