Arthritis is an inflammation of one or more joints, which results in pain and stiffness, and becomes more acute as we age, reported the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. An estimated 52.5 million Americans have been diagnoses with arthritis, and this number is expected to grow to 67 million by 2030. Of the 100 types of arthritis that have been identified, the best known are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis causes cartilage–the hard, slippery tissue that covers the end of bones, where they form a joint, to break down. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that targets synovium, the connective tissue that lines the cavity of a joint. Uric acid crystals, infections, underlying disease, such as psoriasis or lupus, can cause other types of arthritis. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, your symptoms may include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and a decreased range of motion, the Clinic said.
What Are the Causes?
The 2 types of arthritis change joints in different ways. Osteoarthritis. Wear-and-tear damage can result in bone grinding on bone, which results in pain and restricted movement. It can be worsened by a joint injury or infection. Rheumatoid arthritis. In this type of autoimmune disorder, the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule, which encloses the joint parts. This lining, called the synovial membrane, becomes inflamed and swollen, and this pressure can destroy cartilage and bone within the joint.
What Are the Risk Factors?
1. Family history. In some types of arthritis, you may develop the disease if your parents or siblings have it.
2. Age. The risk of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout increases with age.
3. Gender. Women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while men are more susceptible to gout.
4. Previous joint injury. For those who have had a joint injury, such as in sports, arthritis may develop in that joint.
5. Obesity. Excess weight puts stress on the joints, especially in the knees, hips, and spine.
What Are the Complications?
“Serious arthritis, especially if it affects your hands or arms, makes it difficult to do daily chores,” the Clinic continued. “Arthritis in weight-bearing joints can prevent you from walking comfortably or sitting straight. In some cases, the joints may become twisted and deformed.”
What Is Being Done?
Doctors are using drugs, acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, naturopathy, and other therapies in treating arthritis. There are various alternative medicine options to consider.
Vitamin D – At the Military Institute of Medicine in Warsaw, Poland, Anna Roczkrewitz, Ph.D., et al., reported that a vitamin D deficiency was detected in 76.3% of the rheumatoid arthritis patients they tested, and 38.1% were severely deficient in the vitamin.
Omega-3 fatty acids – In a study by Young-Ho Lee, PH.D., et al., at Korea University in Seoul, they assessed the affects of polyunsaturated fatty acids at over 2.7 g/day on 183 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The study lasted 3 months and included 187 controls. They reported that the dose of omega-3 fatty acid reduced nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) consumption in the RA patients.
SAM-e. S-Adenosyl Methionine (SAM-e) – SAM-e is a dietary supplement used in the management of osteoarthritis symptoms. At the University of California at Irvine, Wadie J. Najm, Ph.D., et al., did a study in which they compared 1,200 mg of SAM-e with 260 mg of Celebrex for 16 weeks. The latter is a COX-2 inhibitor used to treat arthritis. They reported that, while SAM-e had a slower action in relieving pain, it was as effective as the drug in the management of symptoms of knee arthritis.
Folic acid – folic acid or Methotrexate is a disease modifying antiarthritic drug, however, it can lead to disabling side effects. A research team at the University of Ottowa in Canada, headed by B. Shea, Ph.D., found that when patients were given 25 g/week of the drug, along with 7 mg/week of folic acid, the B vitamin, or folinic acid, this may ameliorate the side effects of the drug.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) – MSM is an organic sulfur compound found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. The mineral is needed to form connective tissue, and it acts as an analgesic in reducing nerve impulses that instigate pain. The Arthritis Foundation, Atlanta, Georgia, reported on a 2006 study of 50 men and women with knee arthritis, which showed that 6,000 mg of MSM improved symptom pain, and physical function without major side effects.