Inflammatory vs Degenerative Arthritis

More than 7 million UK adults have long-term health problems related to their joints, such as arthritis. Whereas it may not surprise you that joint pains afflicts over half of the over 55s, 10% of the people under the age of 25 also suffer.

Chiropractic care consisting of treatment, advice and exercise is an excellent way of reducing or eliminating pain by restoring and maintaining joint, muscle and nerve function. In turn this reduces postural stress, improves the body’s ability to heal itself and promotes overall well-being.

Acupuncture is also an excellent way of reducing pain and discomfort from painful, inflamed and arthritic joints and muscles.

The two most common types of arthritis are degenerative e.g. osteoarthritis and inflammatory e.g. rheumatoid arthritis.

Degenerative arthritis or Osteoarthritis is a wear and tear condition, which becomes more prevalent with increasing age. However, high intensity activities either at work or during leisure, or injuries can accelerate the process leading to symptoms early in life. Other factors include excess weight, genetic factors and a body’s inability to repair cartilage, which covers the bony surfaces of the joints. The cartilage is a smooth, slippery, hard gel-like shock absorbing material. It is nourished and lubricated by a thin oil like fluid enabling the joint move with very little resistance. When the cartilage has worn away and the adjacent bone ends start touching you can often hear or feel a grating sound when the joint moves. This most commonly happens in the hips, knees, spine, shoulders and hands. It usually causes a gradual stiffening and slowly increasing pain, especially first thing in the morning and after rest.

Inflammatory arthritis is a disorder in which the cartilage and other tissues around the joint become inflamed and subsequently damaged. As well as painful swollen joints, which often are red and feel warm this type of arthritis can cause far more widespread symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss and low grade fever. It happens when the immune system malfunctions and start attacking its own joints and tissues. Some forms of inflammatory arthritis have peculiar tendencies to attack specific joints; like gout mainly attacking the joints in the big toes. In most cases of inflammatory arthritis medication is necessary to minimise joint damage.

Advice on exercises, acupuncture and physical treatments, such as chiropractic, can often help relieve some of the pains but great help can also be found by making some dietary changes and from taking certain supplements.

There are several supplements available and it can be difficult to choose. Taking them all is rarely an option that people can afford or tolerate but there are some products, which try to combine the benefits of several in one easy formula. Over the next few weeks I hope to cover the majority of these but for now I will mention Glucosamine, which probably is the most well known. However, I have found that the majority of my patients underdose and therefore miss out on the potential benefits.

Glucosamine is essential for maintaining joint cartilage. It is produced by the body but with progressing age the demand often outweighs the production. There are no edible sources and it is commonly derived from the shells of shellfish. Studies on Glucosamine Sulphate have shown it to be effective in knee arthritis and it also has been found at least as effective as Ibuprofen in relieving different types of arthritis. A long term daily dose of 1500 mg of glucosamine sulphate is the most cost effective. An initial loading dose of 3000 mg daily over three to four weeks often produces the quickest result. To date we have not found a product that provides these sort of doses in one capsule or tablet (at least not one small enough for human consumption) so read the label and work out how many you need to take of your supplement.

At Park View Acupuncture and Chiropractic Clinic we stock three high quality glucosamine sulphate products, Turmeric, all from Lamberts Healthcare

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