My knee joint is quite painful
X-rays show arthritis in my knees, is there anything I can do to help improve my joints? I have heard that Glucosamine is good but it is made from sharks fins and I don't like the thought of that.
Firstly a differential diagnosis is required to determine the exact type of Arthritis. Glucosamine is commonly used to treat Osteo-arthritis (the most common form of arthritis characterized by loss of cartilage). Another form of Arthritis is Rheumatoid arthritis (a blood based condition related to autoimmune diseases) and Glucosamine is of no assistance to this condition. Under no circumstances is this advice intended to provide diagnosis or to replace a private consultation with a health practitioner, but as a general guideline, Osteoarthritis is generally experienced as a cold sensation, whereas heat sensations are usually experienced with Rheumatoid Arthritis.Supplements which contain Glucosamine are not made from Shark fin, but from the connective tissue of the inverterbrae from crustacians, such as prawns, crabs and oysters. It is the Glucosamine component which may help to rebuild the cartilage of the joints (the soft padding between the joints). Glucosamine provides the joints with proteoglycans to help rebuild new cartilage (chondroblasts) and to reduce the amount of destruction of the cartilage (Chondroclasts).
Another substance often used in conjunction with Glucosamine to treat Osteoarthritis is called Chondroitin. This supplement is often sourced from Shark fin cartilage. However if you decide to take either of these supplements, I would suggest speaking directly to the product's manufacturers to inquire where they source their ingredients from.
What is the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis?
Osteoarthritis, usually found in elderly people, develops mainly as a result of the continuous wearing away of the cartilage in a joint. It is the most prevalent form of arthritis. It is characterised by pain and stiffness (especially after exercise), swelling, deformity, and/or a diminished range of motion.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes stiffness (especially in the mornings), swelling, and, often, crippling pain. It may also cause fatigue, anaemia and weight loss. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder: it is a "self-attacking-self" disease. The body's immune system improperly identifies the synovial membranes as foreign. Inflammation results which causes damage to cartilage and tissues in and around the joints. Normal spaces within the joints become narrowed and the bones may even fuse together.
Diet tips for arthritis
- Eat a diet rich in deep sea fish, green leafy vegetables, yellow vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, cold pressed oils and drink plenty of filtered water
- Avoid refined, devitalised, and processed foods or those containing an excess of sugar, caffeine, saturated fats and alcohol
- Avoid nightshade foods; these are often associated with an aggravation of arthritic symptoms
- Eat more sulphur-containing foods such as asparagus, eggs, garlic and onions as these foods can help provide the body with this essential nutrient for improving the integrity of the joint capsules
- Ensure that you are properly hydrated
Lifestyle factors for arthritis
- Exercise is important and has great benefits if possible, without too much pain. Improving muscle strength and maintaining mobility are just as important as avoiding unnecessary trauma and physical stress to affected joints. Protecting the joint can include fitting rubber heels to reduce jarring and minimising the risk of slipping, suggesting the use of built up shoes to equalise leg lengths and the provision of a suitable walking stick. Encouraging weight loss in obese patients will reduce weight on the hips and knees
- Some patients do benefit from physiotherapy. Hydrotherapy may be useful for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee associated with pain and muscle spasm
- Non-weight bearing exercise e.g. swimming is recommended in both the prevention and treatment of arthritis because joints that are less mobile tend to stiffen
- Weight loss is important if the patient is obese as excess weight may also affect the weight bearing joints, which become irritated and stressed by having to carry too much of a load
- Correct posture and sensible shoes, as an uneven weight distribution can facilitate wear and tear of the joints
Natural remedies for arthritis
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin are beneficial to support the structure of the cartilage
- Fish oil is a potent anti-inflammatory for the musculo-skeletal system and can help reduce the pain associated with arthritis
- Natural anti-inflammatory herbs are Celery, Eucommia, Devils Claw, Acanthopanax, Boswellia and White Willow Bark
- Green lipped muscles contain strong anti-inflammatory substances to help reduce pain