Can Osteoarthritis Be Reversed?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the cartilage and causes overgrowth of the bone under the cartilage. Traumatic joint injury or genetics could play a big role in who develops osteoarthritis. The disease usually starts with a single main joint like hip or knee but some people have also been known to have the disease start from a small joint like an ankle, this is possible if that joint had a major injury such as sprain or cartilage tear in the past. Mostly osteoarthritis affects only one joint, but sometimes it can spread to other joints in the body too. In some cases due to osteoarthritis pain in hip, ankle or knee patients tend to change the gait and alignment of the body to prevent pain in the affected joint not realizing that this change in movement now effects the other joints too. So causing the other joints to be impacted as well. Any type of arthritis causes joint damage. Although joint damage cannot be reversed, there are treatments that can help to stop the damage from getting worse.
Medicine still does not know the reasons why osteoarthritis progresses and nor does it have effective therapies to stop the progression of this disease. There are research studies still going on the use of Vitamin E, Green Lipped Muscle Extract, Curcumin and its help in stopping the progression of osteoarthritis to other joints as well as stalling the disease.
Can Osteoarthritis Be Prevented from Progressing?
Patients often worry about the progressive nature of osteoarthritis and wonder if joint replacement surgery would be helpful. But just a few changes in the daily habits and lifestyle of the patient could bring about a good change for them. Here are some simple methods that might help like,
- Lose weight: Obesity is one of the main factors for the progression of osteoarthritis. The more stress placed on the already damaged joint the greater the inflammation. Over time this can deteriorate the joint further, increasing the pain and interfering with a person’s movement. By losing just five to ten percent of your body weight, you will notice the relief and difference in all your symptoms. Exercising painful joints can be very difficult, but there are many fitness routines suitable for arthritis patients. These exercises would mainly focus on three things, Range of Motion Exercises which are done daily, Strengthening Exercises performed on alternate days, Endurance Exercises are done for 20 – 30 minutes three times a week. Weight loss will also involve changes in the diet which will reduce saturated fats, moderate the intake of carbohydrates and avoid excess salt, sugar and alcohol. You should consult a doctor as well as a dietician for help with the exercises and a well balanced diet plan.
- Modify your activities: You can strengthen certain muscles to help with the painful joints but you should never push yourself excessively. If there is pain while performing certain activities you should stop doing them. As you may cause more damage. You will need to modify your sports activities to preserve your mobility for example impact sports – baseball, cricket, jogging/running, football etc. These sports help to accelerate the progression of the disease. Instead try low impact sports like cycling, swimming, skiing, rowing, pilates, yoga etc. These choices can be tough but it will help to stop the needless stress on the ankles, knees and hips. For people with a sedentary lifestyle you will need to consult with a Physical Therapist as they can teach you how to safely stretch and strengthen vulnerable joints and set a structured program to gradually setup a routine for exercise. There are different types of therapy like Physical Therapy – to create an individualized exercise program that strengthens muscles around the joint, reduce pain and increase range of motion. Occupational Therapy – helps you to do everyday tasks without putting extra stress on the painful joints. Tai chi and Yoga – involve gentle exercises and stretches combined with deep breathing. These exercises reduce osteoarthritis pain, stress and improve movement.
- Use Anti-Inflammatory Medicines: Arthritis is a disease of the inflammation of the joints, if not taken care it can accelerate joint damage. You need to have the medicines as directed by your doctor for relief from chronic joint pain. If you have not consulted with any doctor as yet then you need to do that immediately. There are options in medications like prescription and non-prescription medicines. Analgesic are used for pain relief like Tylenol (acetaminophen), prescription opioids and a typical opioid called Ultram (tramadol). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to reduce inflammation and pain like asprin, Advil (ibuprophen), Aleve (naproxen) and Celebrex (celecoxib). Corticosteroids are very strong anti-inflammatory drugs taken orally or injected directly into the affected joint. Hyaluronic acid is produced naturally in our body and can be injected into a joint as a shock absorber and a lubricant. Duloxetine (Cymbalta) normally used as anti-depressants is also used to treat chronic pain in osteoarthritis.
- Use a supportive device: People with arthritis avoid using walking devices as it makes them feel old and weak. Not realizing that due to the pain they walk less as they feel unsteady on their feet and are afraid to put their whole body weight on the painful joint. Avoiding a supportive device can make your condition worse. These walking devices are not just limited to canes, crutches and walkers. The device options are many like an unloader brace for knee arthritis which relieves pressure on the most damaged side of a joint, rolling walkers (rollators) that allow you to move freely unlike a standard walker. Consult with your doctor about which of these devices is appropriate for you. Never start anything on your own always take professional advice and help before starting anything new.
- Supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids which are rich in healthy fats that help in reducing joint swelling. Good sources for Omega-3 fatty acids is fish oil, nuts and certain plant oil. Vitamin D supplements are also known to help people with osteoarthritis. Vitamin D is also produced naturally in our body when the body is exposed to sunlight good sources for vitamin D is fish, milk, cereal and eggs. Vitamin E research is still going on to see how it benefits in stopping or stalling the progress of osteoarthritis. GLME is green lipped muscle extract which helps by stopping and stalling the disease from advancing. Curcumin and ginger are also known for their benefits.