Arthritis is a very common chronic health problem. In fact, it is the leading cause of disability in adults in the United States. Statistics anticipate that by the year 2020, approximately 60 million Americans will be affected by one of more than 100 different types of arthritis or musculoskeletal disorder. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting approximately 12% of Americans 25 years of age and older.
The pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis is often treated with common oral pain medications, including traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), acetaminophen, and more recently, COX-2 inhibitors. However, there is ongoing and new controversy as to the value, risk, and benefits of these drugs. These include gastrointestinal (GI) and cardiovascular (CV) risks. With the recent withdrawals of two COX-2 inhibitors due to CV safety concerns, and the CV and GI risks of NSAIDs, there is a need for natural and safe treatment options for chronic pain conditions such as osteoarthritis.
It is very important to manage your pain effectively. Because there are so many types of arthritis, symptoms will vary, as well as the part of your body that is affected. Could be any joints! neck, back, hips, knees, hands, shoulders, feet or ankles. Remember that not all back pain is related to arthritis, hence the importance of getting an accurate diagnosis using adequate diagnostic testing. Sometimes it is necessary to consider surgery. Be sure to investigate the most recent & the latest surgeries available
- Diet plays a very important role.
- weight management is also very important. Being overweight, even just moderately, burdens the joints and increases pain and inflammation.
- Many people have found dramatic pain relief using appropriate exercise programs to reduce pain.
- Always remember to protect your joints.
- Use of natural vitamin and herbal supplements are very effective.
- Its important to address emotional and stress issues.
- Find relief using analgesic creams, massage, heat and cold packs.
The Importance of Nutrition:Nutrition plays a role on two levels: first, eating right helps in weight control, and that reduces stress on the joints.
In addition, good nutrition contributes to your overall health and energy level, which in turn inspires you to be more active, combined with periods of rest, is important for building muscle strength; the stronger your muscles, the more work they do and the less stress is placed on your joints. Overall, good nutrition and exercise appropriate for people with arthritis will build and strengthen your muscles, increase your metabolism and make your body more fuel efficient.
Why Avoid Pro-Inflammatory Foods?
Pro-inflammatory foods increase inflammation. They increase your pain from the inflammation and may also raise your risk for chronic disease. Loading up on junk foods, high-fat meats, sugar and fast foods increase inflammation in your body. This is due in part to the unhealthy fats used in preparing and processing these foods, especially trans fats and saturated fats. Processed meats like lunch meats, hot dogs and sausages, contain chemicals such as nitrites that are associated with increased inflammation and chronic disease. Saturated fats are also found in meats, dairy products and eggs. While all of these foods are important source of minerals and vitamins, you don't need the extra saturated fat. These foods also also contain fatty acids called arachidonic acid. While some arachidonic acid is essential for your health, too much arachidonic acid in the diet may make your inflammation worse. Be sure to choose low fat milk and cheese and lean cuts of meat, which will not promote inflammation.
Diets high in sugar have also been associated with inflammation, obesity and chronic disease such as diabetes. It's important to eliminate high sugar foods such as sodas, soft drinks, pastries, pre-sweetened cereals and candy.
Another source of irritation comes from the nightshade family of plants. Some vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, pappers and eggplant may actually make pain from inflammation worse. These vegetables are part of the nightshade family of plants and contain a chemical alkaloid called solanine. Solanine can trigger pain in some people. While there isn't any formal research findings that back the claim about nightshade plants, some people believe they get relief from the symptoms of pain and inflammation. Other whole fruits and vegetables are important to eat for their vitamins, minerals, and natural antioxidants.
Rheumatoid Arthritis results in more than 9 million physician visits and more than 250,000 hospitalizations each year.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a dysfunctional immune response (autoimmune disease) causing the joints of the body to become inflamed, leading to severe stiffness and acute and/or chronic pain.
- An excess of synovial fluid around the joints also contributes to swelling and lack of mobility.
- All joints are affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis, especially the wrist and hand joints.
- RA is different from other types of arthritis (such as osteoarthritis). For example:
- It usually occurs in a symmetrical pattern; for example, if one hand is affected, usually the other will be, too.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is often affects the wrists and fingers, though it can affect other parts of the body.
- It is an autoimmune disease affecting the entire body. A person with RA may feel tired and weak, have fevers at times, lose appetite, lose weight, and generally not feel well.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid ArthritisThe body's immune jumps track and selectively attacks healthy joint tissue.
Joint membranes become inflamed, causing pain, stiffness, warmth, redness and swelling.
But pain and discomfort are only two of the consequences of rheumatoid arthritis.
The inflammation may release enzymes that eat away at bone and cartilage, joints may lose their shape and alignment.
As Rheumatoid Arthritis progresses, chronic inflammation ultimately destroys cartilage, tendon and ligaments in the elbows, shoulders, knees and ankles.
Rheumatoid arthritis often strikes women and men in the prime of their lives.
Symptoms can increase in severity over time, or they may remain relatively constant over the years.
Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
"Early detection and treatment can make all the difference in preventing the disease's progression, says Dr. William Robb, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Northwestern University. "If the cycle of inflammation can be interrupted early enough, then the cartilage damage is prevented. In advanced cases of Rheumatoid Arthritis that don't respond to medications and lifestyle changes, patients can usually be treated successfully with surgery to reconstruct areas damaged by the disease," Robb says.
Although there is no known cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis, scientists are increasingly discovering the importance of various functional mechanisms in the body that
can greatly influence the development and progression of the disease.
The oxidative damage caused by free radicals is a pivotal mechanism implicated in the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
Sex hormones strongly influence the integrity of bone and muscle tissue, and shape many of the general clinical effects of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Essential Fatty Acid levels can have a dramatic impact on the inflammatory responses associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Restoring balance to the intestinal microflora or probioticshas been shown to alleviate many of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Many patients with rheumatoid arthritis lack essential mineral nutrients and amino acids.
- Glucosamine sulfate (glucosamine for short) is a popular dietary supplements for arthritis. Glucosamine is a substance found in the fluid around the joints.
It can also be obtained from the shells of shrimp, lobster, and crabs, or made in the laboratory.
The body uses glucosamine to make and repair cartilage, a firm but flexible tissue that covers the ends of bones, and keeps them from rubbing against each other.
it also absorbs the force of impact.
Glucosamine has shown anti-inflammatory effects in animal studies. In humans, they have been studied only for osteoarthritis so far, not for RA. Osteoarthritis is a different form of arthritis than RA, with different causes, although the symptoms are similar (such as joint pain and problems with function).
- An unsuspected parasite infection can trigger symptoms of various types of joint diseases, including Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- Many people with Rheumatoid Arthritis are interested in whether certain foods can affect their symptoms.
Examples of foods that are believed to possibly worsen the symptoms of arthritis are the nightshade family of plants that include white potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers; dairy, citrus fruits, acidic foods, sweets, coffee, and animal protein.
There are various theories about how foods may affect Rheumatoid Arthritis, including:
- The foods one eats and how the digestive system handles these foods are known to affect the immune system. Because Rheumatoid Arthritis is a disease of the immune system, a connection between diet and the disease has been proposed.
- Certain fats that are mostly from animal sources, but also from corn and sunflower oils - break down in the body into substances that can cause inflammation.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis as well as the medications used to treat it, may affect the way a person's digestive system handles foods.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis can affect a person's ability to prepare and eat food which may lead to nutritional problems.
- It is important for people who have RA to eat a healthy, balanced diet. If one or more foods are eliminated from the diet, it is possible to miss key nutrients and not get enough calories.
Decaffeinated Coffee and Rheumatoid Arthritis
According to a recent presentation at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, doctors from the University of Alabama at Birmingham revealed that women who drink at least four cups of decaffeinated coffee a day are more than twice as likely to develop Rheumatoid Arthritis. Drinking regular coffee had no relationship to the disease.
"Women who drank regular coffee did not have the increased risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis -- so it seems as if there is something about the decaffeinated coffee that is increasing the risks," says lead author Dr. Ted Mikuls, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. That "something" is probably the chemicals used in the decaffeinating process, according to Dr. Eric Braverman, an integrated physician and RA expert.
"For many years, making decaffeinated coffee involved the use of some potent chemical solvents, some which may still be in use today," Braverman explains. "Over time", he says, "these chemical residues build in the body, taxing the immune system. Eventually", he adds, "that continual assault may be what leads to a variety of autoimmune diseases, including Rheumatoid Arthritis."
Affective disorders and Rheumatoid Arthritis
A study in a current issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine indicate that patients with rheumatoid arthritis who had past episodes of serious affective disorders, like major depression or generalized anxiety disorder, had levels of fatigue that were up to 10 percent higher than other patients.