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Arthritis: Osteoarthritis

Posted Feb 02 2012 4:40pm

There are different forms of arthritis including Osteoarthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthrits
Seronegative Spondyloarhtropathies
Infectious arthritis
Gout/Gouty Arthritis

Arthritis can affect any age group, ranging from young children to elderly adults. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, which results is a progressive deterioration of articular cartilage within the joint capsule, mainly affecting knees, hips, hands, wrists, and feet, but can be located in the spine, shoulder, and elbow as well.

First, lets break down the word: osteoarthritis into its Latin meaning Osteo: bone
Arthron: joint
-Itis: inflammation

So, from the Latin meaning of the word, osteoarthritis deals with the joint between bones becoming inflamed. However, from a pathological process, inflammatory cells may be present within the affected joint, but the intrinsic problem of this disease is that the articular cartilage is breaking down, due to chemical and metabolic alterations (not primarily due to destruction by inflammatory cells). Mostly, osteoarthritis appears with increasing age, but can also present in young adults, due to repeated trauma to a specific area of the body or genetic predispositions.

Clinical Picture > Patient usually middle aged
> Deep, aching pains, worse with movement
> Morning stiffness
> Crepitus, or cracking in the joints
> Limited range of movement
> Nerve root compression if in spine, resulting in numbness, tingling, or other neurological symptoms

Predisposing factors to osteoarthritis > Increasing age
> Wear and tear on the weight bearing joints of the body (or those used most often, as in the knees)
> Previous joint deformity processes
> Obesity

In osteoarthritis, the actual chemical makeup of the cartilage (our natural shock absorbers) is changed, or degraded, over time. Normal cartilage is made up of type II collagen (which gives cartilage its strength) and proteoglycans (molecules that allow cushion, movement, and flexibility of cartilage by binding positive ions and therefore water molecules ). From repeated damage, the cartilage begins to degenerate by increasing water content, and decreasing proteoglycan content. ( Normal Joint vs. Osteoarthritic Joint )

In addition, there is a breakdown of pre-existing type II collagen, and halt in production of new fibers of type II collagen, which results in further weakening and degeneration. With progressive damage, water molecules are lost, reducing the cushion of the joint. In addition, chemical messengers released by inflammatory cells, that come into the area, add insult to injury by releasing IL-1, TNF, and Nitric Oxide. Chondrocytes, (cartilage cells) that have not undergone programmed cell death, try to salvage the joint by producing new collagen and proteoglycans, but the pace is not fast enough for the degeneration of the joint, resulting in progressive weakness of the area and pain, due to the bone-to-bone contact (which was previously protected by cartilage).

Treatments to ask your ND/MD about Rather than taking prednisone, corticosteroids, or NSAIDs for the pain and inflammation, look into these natural treatments as an alternative (with far less side effects :) ) > Contrast hydrotherapy
> Homeopathic remedies
> Traumeel cream
> Cold laser treatments
> Centella asiatica (Gotukola) – can help repair proteolgycans and glycosaminoglycans in damaged joints [Do not take if you are pregnant, for abortifacent effects]
> Harpagophytum procumbens (Devil’s Claw) – anti-inflammatory properties [Do not take if you have gastric/duodenal ulcers, acute gall bladder disease, or are pregnant]
> Antioxidants
> Vitamin D
> Glucosamine + Chondroitin
> Omega3 Fatty acids (Excess Omega 6s can contribute to a pro-inflammatory state)
> Weight loss

This is not, in anyway, intended to replace a treatment plan from your primary care physician. Please consult with your doctor to ensure the best treatment strategy for your condition.

References Kumar, Vinay, Abul Abbas, and Nelson Fausto. Robbins and Cotran: Pathologic Basis of Disease. 7th . Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders, 2005. Print.
Tilgner, Sharol Marie. Herbal Medicine: From the Heart of the Earth. 2nd . Pleasant Hill, OR: Wise Acres LLC, 2009. Print.
Arthritis: Joint Inflammation
Arthritis Foundation
Natural Remedies for Treating Arthritis

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