Degenerative Arthritis Treatment Plan

Years ago, doctors hardly ever told arthritis patients to “go for a hike” or “go for a swim“. Recent research and clinical findings show that there is much more to life for arthritis patients than the traditional recommendation of bed rest and drug therapy.

The word “arthritis” means joint inflammation. This includes gout, fibromyalgia, degenerative or osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and many more. Most forms of arthritis begin in middle age and are more frequent in the older generation. However, young people and children can also suffer from it.

Most arthritis causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in the joints. Arthritis is highly individual. Some people suffer from mild arthritis that lasts from a few months to a few years and then it goes away. Mild or moderate arthritis have periods of worsening symptoms (flares) and periods of remissions, when the patients feels better. People with severe arthritis feel pain most of the time. The pain lasts for many years and can cause serious joint damage and disability.

Exercise is critical in successful arthritis management. It helps maintain healthy and strong muscles, joint mobility, endurance and helps control weight. Rest, on the other hand, helps to decrease active joint inflammation, pain and fatigue. For best results, arthritis patients need a good balance between rest and exercise. Rest during the flare ups and more exercise during remissions. When flare ups occur, patients should gently put the joints through their full range of motion once a day. This may include stretching, swimming or yoga.

Arthritis medications help suppress the immune system and slow the progression of the disease or are anti-inflammatory and reduce pain and swelling. But for those who prefer an alternative approach, nutrition may provide complementary support. Some evidence shows that nutrition can play a role in controlling the inflammation, and possibly also in slowing the progression of arthritis.

The first and perhaps most important nutritional supplement for arthritis inflammation is fatty-acids. The most effective fatty-acids are the omega three fish oils. Fish oils have active compounds which reduce arthritis pain and swelling. These compounds are EPA and DHA. Fatty-acid supplements are important in reducing joint pain and swelling, lessen the reliance on steroid medication. Deep-sea fish, such as salmon, tuna, herring, halibut and sardines are rich sources of EPA and DHA.

There are other effective nutritional medicines. The spices turmeric and ginger have been shown to provide significant joint relief by stopping some of the inflammation. White onion also has a compound which reduces joint pain and swelling. The herb nettle leaf and boswellia may help, also. There are supplements which contain combinations of nearly all of these herbs, which some doctors refer to as “herbal aspirin”.

A diet full of low-allergy foods can help manage arthritis, as well. Low allergy food lists are readily available in books or on-line. The six most common foods to avoid are wheat, nuts, soy, corn, dairy and sugar. Finding the ever-changing limits between exercise and rest, avoiding high allergy foods and indulging in “herbal aspirin” could possibly add years to joints with arthritis.

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