By Dr. Lydia
Osteoarthritis is an all too common cause of sore, stiff, deeply achy joints. From years of wear and tear the protective cartilage in the joint can become worn down leaving the bone susceptible to repetitive damage. It is estimated that 25% of all office visits to family doctors is attributable to osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis is not due to body-wide inflammation and tends to exist in the joints that do the most work – knee, hips, spine, and fingers.
In terms of natural remedies, North Americans spend the most money on osteoarthritis supplements. Due to this fact, there are many products on the market all claiming to rid you of your aches and pains. Many of these have not been evaluated for quality control, so choose reputable brands or get the advice of your naturopathic doctor.
Natural approaches to reducing joint pain and restoring function are focused on rebuilding the joint matrix. Your cartilage and joint spaces contain a gel like fluid that acts as a shock absorber. As we age this fluid volume decreases leaving our joint surfaces much more likely to come in contact, causing pain and degeneration.
One of the most commonly widely-known supplements is glucosamine. This supplement helps maintain the gel like structure of the cartilage and is well researched as being effective. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and chondroitin are commonly found in supplements alongside glucosamine. There is conflicting evidence about the use of chondroitin. The body may not be able to absorb it, so your best bet is choosing glucosamine, with MSM alone.
A new product on the market is Natrual Eggshell Membrane (NEM). When you crack and egg, there is a thin inner membrane that contains many of the ingredients our joint matrix, and cartilage do. I like this supplement because it works fast. Results will be experienced in seven to ten days, if it is the right product for you. Glucosamine can take months to work, so my patients have been pleased with NEM. Also, you usually only need one 500mg capsule per day.
There are two herbs that should be considered if you are looking to treat your osteoarthritis naturally. Boswellia serrata, a type of frankincense and Harpagophytum procumbens, commonly known as Devil’s Claw. These herbs have an anti-inflammatory effect and an ability to restore joint function.
If you are finding that you have to pop Advil to get through your day it is advisable to seek some form of physical therapy. My favorites are chiropractic, acupuncture and osteopathy. If your body is misaligned it can place undue stress on your joints causing further damage and destruction. It is important to correct these postural issues with adjustments from either a chiropractor or osteopath. Acupuncture can help speed healing of the joint and release pain killing molecules.
Lastly, osteoarthritis is severely worsened by being overweight. If you are struggling to shed some extra pounds it advisable to speak to your naturopathic doctor about strategies to assist in weight loss. Keeping active, while being mindful of your pain tolerance is important as well. When it comes to joint mobility, if you don’t use it, you lose it.