Although arthritis won't really kill you, it can literally cripple you. Arthritis causes a lot of limitations and cuts back even the most undemanding activities such as bathing, walking or dressing up. Because of intense pain in the joints, arthritis can be quite debilitating. Added to that, it's also a recurring disease.
Arthritis affects many thousands of people every year and statistics show that one in every three adults over 40 suffer or will suffer from arthritis as they age. Arthritis has no specified age or gender parameter since arthritis can develop even in infants, but most sufferers begin to experience symptoms when they near their fifties, with more than 50% occurring before the age of 65. The sad thing about arthritis is that it can be debilitating both to the body and to one's finances. It is estimated that arthritis can cost a single person a whopping $150,000 in medical or support treatment and lost wages during his or her lifetime.
The two most common types of arthritis that afflict the greater percentage of the population are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a condition that results from normal wear and tear of the knees, hips, or ankles since they bear much of the weight in the body. Arthritis also invades the shoulders and other highly mobile joints in the cervical and lumbar spinal regions. Like grease on joints and gears in a mechanical structure, synovial fluid maintains lubrication and ease of movement within our joints. It is also responsible for the overall health of the cartilage surrounding the bone interface. Synovial fluid inevitably shrinks with age and cartilage undergoes wear and tear with heavy use, eventually causing the bones to grind against each other. This grinding action is what causes arthritis pain and the difficulty in movements.
Rheumatoid Arthritis on the other hand is a condition brought about by the assault of anti-bodies on the synovial lining of the joints. Although these anti-bodies are produced by our own immune system, genetics, certain infections or environmental factors can trigger immune system upsets and cause destruction of the synovial membrane and the cartilage. Inflammatory conditions such as swelling, stiffness and pain manifest as a result of this. Rheumatoid Arthritis affects any age group, and this type of immunologically induced arthritis is also prevalent in other systemic illnesses such as Lupus and Scleroderma.
Symptoms of arthritis are not permanent - the disease is said to be active when inflammation is present and that period is known as a "flare". When the symptoms go away, it is said that the disease is "in remission". Remission can be accomplished through treatment or may occur spontaneously and may last for months or even years.
Conventional treatments for arthritis include the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids to relieve its painful effects. Typically, these come in the form of cortisone injections or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or what is commonly known as NSAIDs. These types of treatment bring pain relief, unfortunately they don't repair the damaged tissues - hence relief is said to be merely symptomatic.
NSAIDs and steroids are also known to produce adverse effects. Most prominent of these are osteoporosis and some thinning of the skin. NSAIDs are also observed to increase the incidence of stomach ulcers.
No cure for arthritis has been discovered yet, but there is growing evidence that tissue repair and replacement can delay disease progression. In fact, this has been the focus of controversial stem cell replacement studies over the years. Whether or not stem cell replacement will eventually emerge as the cure for arthritis, it is a welcome relief to know that natural substances are available to relieve arthritis pain and discomfort, and slow progression of the disease - without the side effects.
One of the best known natural substances for its anti-inflammatory properties is Aloe Vera. Aloe generally provides analgesic relief and it has demonstrated positive results at immune system stimulation to speed up cell replacement and growth. Aloe Vera contains basic sugars which are also found in every cell of the body - it is rich in nutrients that include vitamins E, C, and the B series, as well as iron, manganese, calcium and zinc. Aloe Vera also contains essential amino and fatty acids needed by the body.
Possibly more than its nutritional benefits is the ability of Aloe Vera to help the body regenerate cells and repair damaged tissue. A breakthrough formulation combines aloe with glucosamine and chondroitin, two joint supplements that are building blocks of cartilage found within joints. Glucosamine increases fluid maintenance in the cartilage, while chondroitin, an ingredient of cartilage tissue, takes charge of drawing in fluids and nutrients. As we age, the body's capacity to produce these natural elements of healthy cartilage is diminished, thus leading to painful joint conditions. Combined with Aloe Vera which aids in tissue repair and cell regeneration, natural relief for arthritis without the side effects may simply be found in a glass of naturally occurring substances!