Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative arthritis, is a type of arthritis which afflicts both the cartilage (bone cushion) and underlying bones of joints. OA is the most common type of arthritis and is caused by ‘wear and tear’ of the joints. Prolonged wear and tear breaks down cartilage meaning that bones lose their ability to absorb shock and glide during movement. OA is characterized by pain, swelling, stiffness, cracking sounds during movement and ‘locking’ of joints.
Although there is no cure for OA, treatments are available to alleviate symptoms.
Evidence suggests that the consumption of some nutrients can help manage OA and prevent further degeneration of joints.
Vitamin C has been found to be associated with the development of strong cartilage. This nutrient is commonly found in citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons.
Individuals with low bone mineral density (BMD) are at higher risk for OA. Vitamin D and calcium are necessary for the development of strong bones. Sources of vitamin D and calcium include milk and fortified orange juice (also a source of vitamin C).
Be sure to speak to a health care professional for more information on whether you should be modifying nutrient consumption and by how much (it is possible to have too much of a good thing!).
Individuals with OA tend to refrain from physical activity because of pain. As a result, muscles that normally stabilize joints weaken. Exercises that have a low impact on the joint (such as cycling or swimming) are beneficial in restoring lost muscle mass and increasing the range of movement of joints while protecting them from further damage. Additionally, evidence suggests that physical activity can reduce pain and increase mood. Weight loss may follow with exercise, especially if it is coupled with dietary modification, and this will alleviate symptoms by decreasing the stress on the joints.
High impact activities such as running or jumping are NOT recommended for individuals with OA.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil), diclofenac and naproxen may be used to lower inflammation and pain, and increase mobility.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a component of the joint fluid which helps cushion and allow for fluid movement of joints. HA levels are lower in individuals with OA. HA can be infused into affected joints as a treatment. The effectiveness of HA infusions varies between individuals.
Surgery is often considered a last resort for cases where OA interferes with everyday activities such as walking. All surgical procedures should be followed by post-surgery rehabilitation including icing to decrease inflammation, resting the joint and eventual physical therapy to regain strength.
If you are interested in participating in an Osteoarthritis Study, click here.