Arthritis literally means inflammation of the joints. Annually, millions of Americans are affected by this malady especially those in their fifties. But recent surveys revealed that some persons in their twenties already have arthritis. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease which is a result of erosion and destruction of the cartilage. The cartilage is a tissue that absorbs shocks to the joints caused by injuries, wear and tear, stress, improper nutrition, genetics, metabolic and endocrine factors. Usual symptoms are pain aggravated by movement, stiffness and in worsening cases, sufferers start to have limitations of movement that may lead to disability.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic autoimmune disease: it means that the person's immune system attacks certain tissues in the body particularly the joints and the synovium. Symptoms are red, stiff painful joints and in some cases fever, weight loss and anemia. The triggers are usually infections or injuries.
Arthritis is usually treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and the more recent Celecoxibs. Use of these drugs should be minimized because of some controversies involving these drugs and their many side effects, hence more and more patients seek alternative and natural cure.
Proper Diet and Exercise
Most helpful are low impact exercises like walking, swimming and stretching - you can also ask your physical therapist or physician to make a program of exercise designed for your type of arthritis. Healthy diet is important, so try to eat a balanced diet, take lots of vegetables, fruits, fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamins C, E and folic acid. Avoid cigarettes, alcohol, coffee and tea.
Ultrasound Heat Therapy
This uses an ultrasound machine that produces high energy sound waves directed to the affected joints and muscles. It relieves pain and its effect is medium to short term.
TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)
This is a portable battery operated device that works by sending electrical currents to affected parts of the body. Electrodes are attached to the affected surface and are set in desired duration and intensity of stimulation. Many claim a significant reduction of symptoms and improvement of general well being.
PST (Pulsed Signal Therapy)
When joint tissues are stressed, this creates an electrical signal that causes the body to repair itself. PST works this way - it produces electromagnetic electrical signals at repeated and specific intervals that will in turn activate the body to repair or regenerate. This is usually done at a frequency of nine one-hour sessions.
Diathermy uses electromagnetic heat which is applied to the injured tissues and muscles. Temperature is raised by a high frequency current. It is believed that heat speeds up healing process by increasing blood flow to the injury. Precautions are necessary - for example, it should not be used on wet areas or those with metal objects to avoid risk of burn injury.
Intake of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate
These substances are called amino sugars which give elasticity to the cartilage. The recommended amount is 1500mg of glucosamine and 1200 mg of chondroitin sulfate per day for at least 6 to 8 weeks to achieve benefits. Precautions are given to children, pregnant women, diabetics, those taking blood thinners and those with allergies.
An Ounce of Prevention is Better than a Pound of Cure
Of course, nothing beats preventive measures to avoid developing crippling Arthritis. One of the most important is to lose weight if you are overweight because extra weight will put more stress to your joints. Intake of antioxidants like Vitamins C and E is recommended because they attack free radicals. There are also studies on the importance of oily fish like salmon, tuna and swordfish.
Regular exercise helps strengthen and make the muscles and joints more flexible to protect them from wear and tear. Simple practical measures include good posture, usage of big joints when lifting and carrying, use of supportive and comfortable shoes, use of protective gears for those in injury prone sports. Minimize job-related induced arthritis like improperly positioned tables and computers.
To de-stress is also a key factor if you are looking for a natural cure for arthritis, as evidence suggests that stress plays an important role in its development, so go on vacation, do some Yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi - and lastly, always have a regular check up with your physician.