By Dr. Stuart Garber
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common cause of joint pain and close to 30 million Americans suffer with it.
Although usually considered a disease of older people, and its incidence does increase with age, recent reports suggest the majority of adults with OA are younger than 65.
As the population ages, and given the current obesity epidemic (obesity is a known risk factor) the incidence of OA is likely to rise even further.
Arthritis causes joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and limited movement. Symptoms can include:
• Joint pain
• Joint swelling
• Reduced ability to move the joint
• Redness of the skin around a joint
• Stiffness, especially in the morning
• Warmth around a joint
Some risk factors for OA can be modified, others cannot:
• Excess body weight (especially for OA of the knees and hips).
• Joint injury (from sports, work or other trauma).
• Occupation (due to excessive mechanical stress: hard labor, heavy lifting, knee bending, repetitive motion).
• Men — Often due work that includes construction/mechanics, agriculture, blue collar laborers, and engineers.
• Women — Often due work that includes cleaning, construction, agriculture, and small business/retail.
• Structural misalignment and muscle imbalance/weakness.
• Gender (women are at higher risk).
• Age (incidence increases with age).
• Race (Asians have lower incidence).
• Genetic predisposition.
The goal of treatment is to reduce pain, improve function, prevent further joint damage and, in some cases, reverse the disease process.
Most often doctors will, unfortunately, prescribe drugs to lessen pain and reduce inflammation. Some are available over the counter and some are by prescription but all can produce side effects ranging from uncomfortable to lethal.
Common drugs used for arthritis are Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also referred to as NSAID, such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Motrin) and Naproxen (Naprosyn) and selective COX-2 inhibitors such as Celebrex.
While the selective COX-2 inhibitors have lower risk of gastrointestinal bleeding that the NSAID, they have a substantially more increased risk of producing heart attack. Another popular drug of this class, Vioxx, was taken off the market for this reason.
It was because of these terrible side effects, and because after so many years in practice I found nothing in the alternative arena that I was happy with, that I developed my Joints formula to decrease pain and rehabilitate damaged joints.
Lifestyle changes are preferred in the management of most osteoarthritis cases. Exercise can help relieve stiffness, reduce pain and fatigue, and improve muscle and bone strength.
Exercise programs may include:
• Low-impact aerobic activity.
• Range of motion exercises for flexibility.
• Strength training for muscle tone.
Physical therapy modalities may be recommended. This might include:
• Heat or ice
• Splints or orthotics to support joints and help improve their position.
• Water therapy
Other lifestyle recommendations:
• Get plenty of sleep. Sleeping 8 to 10 hours a night and taking naps during the day can help you recover from a flare-up more quickly and may even help prevent flare ups.
• Avoid staying in one position for too long.
• Avoid positions or movements that place extra stress on your sore joints.
• Change your home to make activities easier. For example, install grab bars in the shower, the tub, and near the toilet.
• Try stress-reducing activities, such as meditation, yoga, or tai chi.
• Eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, which contain important vitamins and minerals.
• Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, and herring), flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts.
• Lose weight, if you are overweight. Weight loss can greatly improve joint pain in the legs and feet.
Therapies which may reverse the disease process:
There are some therapies which have been shown to have a positive impact on the disease process itself, repairing damaged tissue to varying degrees.
• Chiropractic and Osteopathic manipulative therapy.
• Prolotherapy, Prolozone and PRP (Platelet-rich Plasma) injections.
• Specific Biotherapy Formulas such as Dr. Garber’s Natural Solutions for Joints.
• Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
• Homeopathic Medicine, both classical and modern.
• For more information, visit https://www.drgarbers.com.