Arthritis is a complex entity of more than 100 or so musculoskeletal disorders that affect more than 50 million individuals in the United States.
by Sanjay Trivedi, M.D.
Arthritis, or one of the variations of arthritis—Osteoarthritis (OA)—can be held in check or corrected by modifying its risk factors, including obesity and being overweight. In addition, implementing lifestyle changes that include an anti-inflammatory diet, will also help with OA. Likewise, many patients gain benefit from the integrative approach in treatment, which comprises pharmacotherapy, dietary supplements and alternative medicine treatments.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition of the joints, in which the cartilage that cushions the end of the bones progressively loses elasticity and wears away. Then the bones rub against each other and cause stiffness, inflammation, pain, and loss of movement. OA most commonly develop in the hands and the weight-bearing joints, which include, the knees, hips and spine.
Pharmacological agents include Acetaminophen for mild to moderate joint pain; Tramadol is indicated for moderate to severe pain, when Acetaminophen has failed or in patients where non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs are contraindicated. Other medications for use are non-selective NSAIDs like Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naprosen COX -2 inhibitors, and Opioid analgesics. However, all these medications only alleviate the symptoms and do not change the progression of the condition.
Integrative therapy in osteoarthritis is aimed to reduce pain, improve joint functionality, and reduce further progression of the disease. Some supplements like Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate have been shown to have the disease-modifying effects, while other treatments provide additional symptomatic relief. Studies of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate have shown overall positive efficacy in decreasing osteoarthritis pain and improving joint function. These supplements are safe and can also be used as initial line of treatment for many osteoarthritis patients. Other supplements like S-adenosylmethionine ( SAMe ) and Methylsulfonylmethane ( MSM ) are other promising supplements for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
Herbal treatments have been documented to possess anti-inflammatory properties without the side effects of commonly prescribed medications. The herbs—Boswellia, Turmeric, Ashwagandha, Ginger etc.—have been shown to decrease inflammation by interfering with the production of inflammatory compounds in the body. Research has shown that taking Boswellia with Ashwagandha, Turmeric and Zinc decreased joint pain, and increased strength and mobility.
Herbal treatments, meditation and Yoga are recommended by some clinicians as an alternative to conventional treatments for osteoarthritis .
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