What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is defined as an inflammation of joints due to infectious, metabolic, or constitutional causes. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that is characterized especially by pain, stiffness, inflammation, swelling, and sometimes destruction of joints.
Arthritis is a painful condition that is characterized by stiffness, pain, swelling and grinding in the joints. This is not a contagious disease, but more a progressive medical condition. It can affect people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds; however most people who are afflicted with arthritis are older. There are over a hundred different types of arthritis but the most common are Osteoarthritis, which is common among older people, and Rheumatoid Arthritis, which can affect any adult. Pediatric arthritis is possible as well and it is estimated by The Arthritis Foundation that more than 300,000 children are affected.
Anatomy of Joints and Muscles:
In order to better understand how arthritis affects the joints and muscles, let’s first look at the structure of the joints and muscles.
The joints allow the body to move in so many ways and it is the term that is used to refer to the point where two bones come together. Surrounding those joints is smooth cartilage. This allows the joint to move smoothly, without the grinding that would occur without it. Many arthritis patients report a grinding sensation in their joints and it is due to the cartilage deteriorating. Surrounding the joint itself are ligaments and tendons, which give the joint stability and also serve to anchor the muscles to the bones at points known as origins and insertions. And around all of this is the Bursa Sac, which contains Synovial fluid, which serves to lubricate joints. Over time this mechanism can wear down, resulting in a loss of fluid lubrication. This is a common cause of arthritis pain in older people.
Human body is structured to move and the joints are the mechanism that makes it structurally possible to make such a broad range of movements. There are over hundred joints in a normal human body. All of them fall in the categories listed below:
- The type of joint allowing radial movement in almost all directions is named the “Ball and Socket Joint”. Hips and shoulders are examples of such joints.
- Simple back and forth and up and down movements are the specialty of the “Saddle” joints. These would be the kinds of joints in our fingers and toes.
- “Hinge” joints allow the flexion and extension of the appendages are located with the elbows and knees.
- The kind of joint allowing the rotational movement of the body parts such as neck and forearms are known as “Pivot”.
- Gliding joint allow the sliding of the bones past each other. You’ll find these joints at the metacarpal and metatarsal joints.
- Ellipsoid Joints are similar to Ball and Socket. They allow the same type of movement, but to a lesser degree. Wrists and Ankles are examples of these types of joints.
While the bones are the rigid parts of our bodies, it is nearly impossible to have a bone on bone joint and make them smooth. So, the cartilage, a placidly smooth structured kind of connective tissue, covers the each end of the bone, allowing for smooth movement. They are the natural shock absorbers for our bodies. So if you are experiencing some pain in your joint it is very likely that you have damaged the cartilage. This is common in long time athletes. The intense strain put on the joints of these athletes eventually will wear down the cartilage, causing joint damage.
Damage to Cartilage:
As mentioned before damage to cartilage can be one of the chief reasons for arthritis pain. The major reason for the damage to the cartilage can be the inflammation of the Bursa Sac. This holds the Synovial fluid which lubricates the joints. It is located around the joint and is covered with other connective tissues, such as ligaments and tendons.
What causes arthritis pain? There are a variety of conditions that all fall under the umbrella of arthritis that can be causing this pain. Here is an idea of some of the main conditions which can cause this pain:
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Medications can be another reason for the muscle pain
- Depression can also cause muscle pain
- Fever and Illness can also cause muscle pain
Pain in joints can be the result of the some of the reasons mentioned below:
- Unusual exertion or overuse
- Wearing of the cartilage in the joints
- Inflammation of joints because of bacterial invasion
- Autoimmune disease (a disease in which body attacks itself)
- Inflammation of the tendon
- Inflammation of the Bursa Sac around the tendon
- Fever or Illness can be the primary reason for the joint pain
- Metabolic disease
- Bone infection referred as Osteomylitis
- Softening of the cartilage in the joint
There are some common symptoms associated with arthritis. Here are just some of the symptoms. Keep in mind that arthritis shares symptoms with other conditions as well, therefore this list is not designed to be all inclusive or exclusive of any other condition. Only your doctor can tell you if the pain you are feeling is arthritis.
- Morning stiffness
- Feeling of joint grinding during movement
- Swelling of a joint
- Movements being limited
- Pains in joint while rainy weather
- Sensitivity of the joint
- Wearing down the joint ends
- Increased disability in movement
It is also possible that you are experiencing some of the above mentioned symptoms but you are not still affected by this condition and in some cases the possibility is you don’t experience any symptoms at all, but the condition is still affecting your joints. Eventually everyone who is affected by arthritis will have some symptoms, but they may not manifest until years after the onset of the condition, or it may progress so slowly that one becomes accustomed to the discomfort.
While there is no cure for arthritis, there are things you can do for yourself each day to lessen the affects of arthritis, or if you are concerned about your joints, these steps may help keep them healthy longer. Some of these are natural or holistic remedies and others are conventional medical treatment.
Natural Treatments for arthritis:
- 1,000mg of MSM (Methyl-sulfonyl-methane) twice daily will greatly reduce the inflammation which causes the pain.
- 1,000mg of Fish oil soft gels, three times per day will help to lubricate the joints, thus relieving the pain. Fish oils have also found to be beneficial for the heart, kidneys and immune system.
- 500mg of Glucosamine Sulfate twice a day is good for ongoing maintenance to support the cushioning between the joints. This is usually combined with Chondroitin Sulfate, which is an essential component of cartilage.
- Black Cherry Juice can be beneficial in reducing your arthritis pain. Black Cherry Juice is rich in a substance called anthocyanins. While there is no recommended dosage, anecdotal evidence suggests that 2-4 tablespoons of Black Cherry Juice mixed with equal parts of water, a couple times a day. It may take several weeks or months to notice the benefits. Black Cherry Juice is also beneficial in reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Eating mineral rich foods can help with arthritis prevention and management. Supplements can be the best addition to meet the mineral requirements of your diet. People with arthritis pain are often deficient in calcium, zinc, magnesium, copper, vitamin C, and selenium.
- A serving of nuts or coconut can supply beneficial fats, which help lubricate joints. They contain monounsaturated fats, which are also beneficial for lowering cholesterol and heart health
- Eating a balanced diet can help keep weight in check, and will also help keep the proper nutrients in the body to aid in joint and muscle health.
- Sunlight helps in Vitamin D formation. This vitamin is essential for muscle and bone well-being. Try to spend a little time each day in sunlight. In underdeveloped countries there is a medical condition called Rickets, which is essentially a deficiency in Vitamin D. It can cause pain in both bones and muscles, but is easily treated, by getting some sun and taking a vitamin D supplement.
- There are a variety of aromatherapy options. Some beneficial herbs for aromatherapy are Lavender, Juniper, Thyme, Rosemary, Benzoe, Eucalyptus, Chamomile, Pine Scotch, Camphor, Angelica Root, Ginger, Origanum, Black Pepper and Lemon. These can be applied using a variety of modalities including inhalation, they can be used in a bath soak, as a compress, or they can be used by mixing with a carrier and using for massage.
Exercises for arthritis:
Getting outside and enjoying your time out can be very beneficial for your arthritis as fresh air adds to health and sunlight is a great way to provide you with the vitamin D which is needed for well being of bones and muscles.
- Walking can also be a good way to get some exercise for those with arthritis. Walking is low impact and doesn’t require and special equipment or memberships to do it. If the weather isn’t good outside, you can always go to the local shopping mall and walk inside.
- Stretching your body is also beneficial in keeping muscles loose and preventing injuries.
- Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi have been known for centuries to aid in maintaining health. These exercises involve stretching and strengthening movements which help keep joints flexible and aid in preventing injuries. The more healthy your joints are, the faster they will recover from injury
- Wear appropriate shoes. Orthopedically supportive shoes can take the strain off of sensitive back, hip and knee and ankle joints. There are several manufacturers of shoes that specialize in making shoes in a variety of styles that will provide comfort to these areas.
- Massages are great for relieving arthritis pain. Massages manually manipulate muscles to relieve tension and pain. Massage can be combined with aromatherapy for an added benefit.
- Chiropractic adjustment can help relieve pressure in painful joints, by allowing the buildup gas in the joint to be released. The “pop” sound that you hear during the adjustment is the gas pressure in the joint being relieved. It is a mistruth that “popping” one’s joints will actually cause arthritis. In truth, it relieves pressure that causes pain and stiffness. This is helpful particularly with the neck and back
Arthritis comfort tips:
Here are some comfort tips for arthritis patients. These can go a long way toward everyday comfort.
- Lose some weight. Arthritis is more likely to affect obese people. Losing weight can help you reduce the strain on joints.
- Eating a balanced diet will help keep beneficial nutrients in the body, to aid in bone, joint and muscle health.
- Spend less time sitting in front of the television. The more active you are, the better it is for your body.
- Warm baths can be very soothing to arthritis pain. You can use some of the herbs listed above in the aromatherapy section to achieve a greater benefit. Epsom salt is also beneficial in relieving muscle pain. It contains magnesium, which is beneficial in joint and muscle health.
- Heating pads and arthritis aromatherapy wraps provide warmth to aching joints, in the event that one doesn’t want to spend time in the bath.
Treatments for arthritis:
Now that we have explored the natural methods for treating arthritis, let’s look at the medical methods for treating this condition. The method prescribed by you for your doctor will vary based on the severity and the type of arthritis you have.
NSAIDs: Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs can be used for joint pain relief and also work for relieving swelling. They do also have side effects. Side effects can include serious blood clots, gastrointestinal ulcers and bleeding, and renal failure
COX-2 Inhibitors: they are as effective as NSAIDs but have different side effects. These are often prescribed for patients who have problems taking NSAIDs. Side effects include heart attack, stroke and thrombosis.
Corticosteroids: are also used to relieve pain. Side effects for these include Cushing’s syndrome (caused by overuse), high blood pressure, high sodium levels, and low blood potassium, all of these can affect the heart and circulatory system, leading to heart attack and stroke.
Synvisc and Hyalgan are synthetic joint fluids, which is injected into joints to try and rebuild the Synovial Fluid.
Surgery is another option to replace damaged joints or repair joints. In surgery you have a few options; Arthroscopic, partial or total replacement. Arthroscopic surgery is the least invasive and uses small incisions to feed tubes into to remove the damaged soft tissues of the joint. Partial and Total replacements are more invasive procedures and involve implanting prosthetic devices. With all the surgical options there is a risk of infection and the more invasive the procedure the longer the recovery time will be.
All of the best arthritis products on the market all have the same common ingredients (MSM, Glucosamine & Chondrotin Sulfate). Yet there are others that offer those same ingredients plus Emu Oil, Hyaluronic Acid, Camphor, Extract of Arnica & Menthol. All these ingredients are proven pain relief ingredients.
The Clinically Proven Common Ingredients most pain relievers have:
- MSM improves circulation and helps to build healthy new cells.
- CHONDROITIN SULFATE is a proven anti-inflammatory and is proven more effective than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- GLUCOSAMINE HCI repairs, lubricates and rebuilds worn joints and cartilage while increasing joint flexibility.
In addition to the ingredients above, TriRelief™ also contains:
- EMU OIL acts as an emollient and carrier to take the active ingredients inside the skin instead of just depositing it on the surface.
- HYALURONIC ACID is used to treat muscle spasms, fibromyalgia and hardened tissue. It is also used as alternative therapies for rheumatoid arthritis to restore circulation and relieve pain.
- EXTRACTS OF CAMPHOR penetrates the skin, and numbs the peripheral sensory nerves.
- MENTHOL is used as a topical analgesic to relieve minor aches and pains such as muscle cramps, muscle sprains, headaches and similar conditions, alone or combined with products like Camphor and also used in certain medications used to treat sunburns, as it provides a cooling sensation.
- EXTRACT OF ARNICA is used externally to treat wounds, bruises, sprains, aches and pulled tendons. It helps with sore, tired muscles and carpal tunnel syndrome.
As a final note, this information is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified doctor. It is simply meant to give you information so that you can have an informed conversation with your doctor. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any medical conditions.