Osteoarthritis (OA), formerly known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease, is the most prevalent form of arthritis. Obesity, agining, female gender, white ethnicity, greater bone density, and repetitive- use injury associated with athletics have been identified as risk factors. OA is not systemic or autoimmune in origin, but involves cartilage destruction with asymmetric inflammation. It is caused by joint overuse, whereas RA is a systemic autoimmune disorder that results in symmetric joint inflammation.
Extra bone may form at the edge of the joint. These bony growths are called osteophytes and can sometimes restrict movement or rub against other tissues. In some joints, especially the finger joints, these may be visible as firm, knobbly swellings. The lining of the joint capsule (called the synovium) may thicken and produce more fluid than normal, causing the joint to swell. Tissues that surround the joint and help to support it may stretch so that after a time the joint becomes less stable.
It is a chronic joint disease that involves the loss of habitually weight-bearing articular (joint) cartilage. This cartilage normally allows bones to glide smoothly over one another. The loss can result in stiffness, pain, swelling, loss of motion, and changes in joint shape. In addition to abnormal bone growth , which can result in osteophytes. The joints most often affected in OA are the distal interphalangeal joints, the thumb joint, and in particular, the joints of the knees, hips and ankles, and spine, which bar the bulk of the body’s weight
Excess weight puts an added burden on the weight- bearing joints. Research studies have shown that obesity and injury are the two greatest risk factors for OA. The risk for knee OA increases as the BMI increases. Controlling obesity can reduce the burden of inflammation on OA and thus delay disease progression and improve symptoms.
OA limits the ability to increase energy expenditure through exercise. It is critical that the exercise be done with correct form so as not to cause damage or exacerbate an existing problem. Many patients with OA consume deficient levels of calcium and vitamin D. A research has found that capsaicin gel and SAMe are useful in treating OA; articulin F (an ayurvedic mixture of withania, boswellia, curcuma and zinc) improved pain and function; collagen, devil’s claw, vitamin K, hyaluronic acid, and many more, proved to be ineffective for OA. A dose of 1500mg of glucosamine (500mg, three times daily) with 1200mg of chondroitin (400mg, three times daily) resulted in statistically significant pain relief for a small subset of participants who had moderate to severe pain, but not for those in the mild pain subset.
The main symptoms of OA are pain and sometimes stiffness in the affected joints. The pain tends to be worse when you move the joint or at the end of the day. Your joints may feel stiff after rest, but this usually wears off fairly quickly once you get moving. Symptoms may vary for no obvious reasons. Or you may find that your symptoms vary depending on what you’re doing.
The affected joint may be at times swollen, hard and knobbly, especially in the finger joints, caused by the growth of extra bone. Or it may be soft, caused by thickening of the joint lining and extra fluid inside the joint capsule.
There is no blood test for osteoarthritis, although your doctor may suggest you have them to help rule out other types of arthritis. X-rays aren’t usually helpful in diagnosing osteoarthritis, although they may be useful to show whether there are any calcium deposits in the joint. In rare cases, an MRI scan of the knee can be helpful to identify other possible joint or bone problems that could be causing your symptoms.
Although there’s no cure for osteoarthritis yet, there are treatments that can provide relief from the symptoms and allow you to get on with your life. It includes lifestyle changes, pain relief medications, physical therapies and also supplements and complementary treatments.
If you’re overweight, then losing even a small amount of weight can make a big difference to the symptoms especially for weight-bearing joints.there isn’t a specific diet that’s been proven to help with osteoarthritis. If you think a certain food might be making your symptoms worse then it's best to test this by not eating the food for a few weeks and then reintroducing it. Be cautious about any diet that claims to cure arthritis or that suggests cutting out a particular food group completely.
This article is written and submitted to The E Today by Shrushti Mehta.
We thank her for her research and analysis and hope to see the awareness about health and nutrition being spread ahead to larger mass of our citizens.