Don’t ignore the pain in your joints, you might be suffering from arthritis.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a blanket term that refers to any disease or disorder that affects the joints (the area where two or more bones meet to allow movement) that can affect anyone but is particularly common in the older generation and women. It is usually associated with inflammation or degeneration (wear and tear) of the joints which results in discomfort and pain during movement.
As arthritis progresses, the joints can become stiff or distorted, which limits mobility. This makes basic activities like walking and climbing stairs painful and difficult; preventing you from living your best life. Arthritis commonly occurs in the feet, knees, hands, hips and lower back.
Here are some of the different types of arthritis that can occur in your joints:
1. Osteoarthritis (OA)
Osteoarthritis is considered to be the most common form of arthritis. It is a type of degenerative or ‘ageing’ illness that is more frequent in the elderly, although it can also affect young individuals, especially if they have had a substantial joint injury. Wear-and-tear arthritis occurs when joint cartilage breaks down as a result of constant tension or stress on the joint.
2. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
It is an autoimmune illness that is chronic, progressive, and crippling, a condition in which the immune system attacks the synovial membranes of your joints. The same joints on both sides of the body are generally affected by RA. After a night’s sleep or a period of inactivity, pain and stiffness tend to worsen. RA usually strikes people between the ages of 30 and 50.
3. Psoriatic arthritis (PsA)
Psoriatic arthritis is a kind of arthritis that affects persons who have the skin disorder psoriasis, which causes inflammation of the joints. PsA is a long-term condition that can get progressively worse and surgery may be needed if it is severe due to joint deformation and damage. However, joint damage can be prevented or minimised if treated early.
Gout is a condition in which hard uric acid crystals develop in the joints. When our body breaks down foods with purines, it produces uric acid in the process. Instead of moving to the urine, excess production of uric acid can lead to the development of urate crystals in the big toe or other joints, producing gout attacks which are periods of swelling and discomfort.
How is arthritis caused?
Below are some of the potential causes of arthritis:
- Joint overuse (leading to wear and tear)
- Age (Especially adults aged 50 and over, osteoarthritis is most common)
- Sports-related injuries
- Muscle weakness
- Autoimmune disorders
- Genetic-related/family history
Symptoms Of Arthritis
Arthritis symptoms normally develop gradually over time but can appear unexpectedly. The most frequent symptoms across all forms of arthritis are joint pain, stiffness and swelling, but there are symptoms that are specific to the type of arthritis in question, which we’ve listed below:
Symptoms of osteoarthritis:
- Restricted range of motion
- Bending then feeling/hearing clicking or popping in knees, hips or spine
- Muscular weakness in the joint area
- Buckling or instability of the joint
- Bony growths on the finger joints
- Grating or scraping sensation in the kees
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis:
- Stiffness in the morning that can persist for up to 30 minutes
- Stiffness in multiple joints
- Inflammation of the heart muscle and blood vessels
- Slight fever
- Both sides of the body are afflicted by the same joints
Essential Nutrients For Arthritis
If you suffer joint pain from osteoarthritis or inflammatory arthritis, make sure to include these nutrients in your diet to aid with inflammation and joint health.
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as those found in cold-water fish and the oil derived from them, can aid with inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis due to their anti-inflammatory qualities.
A study published in the Mediterranean Journal of Rheumatology (MJR), discovered that Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce and alter the autoimmune inflammatory response by acting as precursors to lipid mediators of inflammation. When lipid mediators are constitutively produced, it results in joint destruction.
According to a research study led by the University of East Anglia (UEA), sulforaphane inhibits cartilage breakdown in osteoarthritis joints as it blocks the enzymes (matrix metalloproteinases and collagenases) that destroy cartilage.
Fortunately, sulforaphane is released when we eat cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage; which are all vegetables that can be easily obtained and incorporated into your diet.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is not only critical for your overall health, it also helps the body to develop and maintain healthy bones alongside its ability to help absorb calcium, an important nutrient for bone. It is critical for preventing bone loss, especially in those who are at a higher risk of developing a long-term disease like inflammatory arthritis or osteoporosis.
One research study conducted by the Boston University Medical Center, Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA, concluded that Vitamin D deficiency, both in terms of consumption and serum levels, appears to be linked to an increased risk of knee osteoarthritis development.
According to another study, higher consumption of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids was linked to improved treatment outcomes in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis.
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Our bodies obtain vitamin D through our diet (i.e. food sources that contain vitamin D such as salmon and mackerel) and through exposure to the sun (which allows our skin to synthesise vitamin D). However, we often don’t get enough nutrients in our diet and overexposure to sunlight can also lead an increased risk of skin cancer. In addition, our skin’s capacity to synthesise vitamin D decreases as we get older.
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