What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis affects over 32.5 million Americans. It is a degenerative joint disease that occurs mostly in the hands, hips, and knees. Degenerative means the cartilage undergoes wear and tear and the bone begins to slowly change. Eventually, the bone gets worse because the joint is not able to support or cushion it. There are no current treatments for osteoarthritis. However, there are strategies to help with symptoms and pain.
Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
- Reduced function
There are many ways to reduce symptoms. Some methods are weight loss, exercise, and supplements.
Weight Loss and Exercise
Weight loss and osteoarthritis are related because the heavier someone is, the more effort is needed for the joints. This increases the chances of getting osteoarthritis. In addition, anti-inflammatory diets with omega-3 fatty acids help lessen inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids are found mainly in deep water fish. Unprocessed whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables are also important. A healthy diet is protective against hip osteoarthritis and heart diseases. As a result, people with osteoarthritis should be mindful of their diet.
Exercise goes hand in hand with weight loss and a healthy diet. It reduces pain and improves joint function. Specifically, exercise makes muscles stronger. Muscles help stabilize joints and absorb shock from the body’s movements. Also, exercise improves flexibility. Flexibility is important for increasing range of motion. As previously mentioned, stiffness and reduced function are symptoms of osteoarthritis.
The recommended goal is about 150 minutes of moderate exercise. Specific exercises for arthritis are aerobic exercises, resistance training, group programs like the Arthritis Self-Management Program, yoga, and Tai Chi. However, be mindful and choose activities that are not high risk for the joints.
Glucosamine Sulfate and Chondroitin Sulfate
Natural remedies for osteoarthritis are glucosamine and chondroitin. Glucosamine works by holding and keeping fluids that are important for the joints. An example of fluids in the joint is synovial fluid. In addition, chondroitin works by increasing thickness of the synovial fluids. Both glucosamine and chondroitin help form joints, cartilage, and connective tissue.
Studies showed that glucosamine and chondroitin used for the knees and hips were beneficial and safe. However, glucosamine did not work as well in obese patients. Other studies reported less pain in patients.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are used together. Suggested dosing of glucosamine is 500 mg three times a day and chondroitin is 400 mg two to three times a day. However, they must be taken for a minimum of 6 months to show benefit. In addition, side effects of taking these supplements are indigestion or upper abdominal discomfort, nausea, and headache.
Osteoarthritis is a common form of arthritis that affects the hands, hips, and knees. Unfortunately, there is no current treatment. Lifestyle changes like weight loss, exercise, and glucosamine and chondroitin supplementation are strategies to reduce osteoarthritis symptoms and pain. Overall, studies showed benefit for taking a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. However, it is only beneficial when taken for at least 6 months. For more information about this topic and other useful dietary supplements, please visit Natures Reveal. To ask an online doctor or naturopath about this topic, please visit Just Health Experts.
- “Osteoarthritis (OA).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 July 2020, www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm.
- Perlman, Adam, Lisa Rosenberger, and Ather Ali. “Osteoarthritis.” Integrative Medicine, by David Rakel, Elsevier, 2018, pp. 639 – 650.