© 2005 Katherine Poehlmann, Ph.D.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is really a condition, not a disease, caused by wear and tear of cartilage for a variety of reasons:
o poor posture
o routine heavy lifting (body weight, backpacks, purses, luggage)
o sagging mattress
o ill-fitting shoes
o pounding exercise (jogging, high-impact sports)
o poor nutrition
o lack of fluids
o trapped toxins in the joint capsule
o sedentary lifestyle
o lax muscles don't support the bones in proper alignment
The wear and tear starts at around age 20 when we have established our habits of standing, sitting, driving, and walking. If the bones are out of alignment, the cartilage wears down (like the heels of your shoes). The first twinges don't show up for two or three decades, but by then it's too late.
Cartilage works by compression and relaxation to bring fluids and nutrients to the joints. It’s too bad we don’t have a “cartilage-ometer” to tell us when we’re dangerously low. Usually, a doctor deduces OA after looking at a patient’s x-ray, after the patient complains of joint pain. Lack of exercise makes cartilage dry and brittle. Ragged edges stab at tender joint tissue. Another OA factor is not consuming enough water to lubricate joints, flush out toxins, and replace fluid loss in cells during the aging process.
Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is caused by bacterial infection, leads directly to OA. Enzymes produced by both the pathogenic bacteria and the immune system during the non-stop inflammation causes destruction to cartilage at an accelerated pace. The result is the same as wear and tear – bone-on-bone friction. This is why kids with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis get OA in their 20s and 30s.
There are things you can do, of course. Start moving! Do gentle stretching, practice deep breathing, walk briskly, swim, sign up for yoga or tai chi classes, exercise during TV commercials, etc. Consider supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin, vitamins C and E, gelatin, MSM. Drink lots of spring water. Use a slant board twice a day to release trapped toxins in the lower limbs.
What NOT to do: depend on medications to correct the habits of a lifetime. They offer quick pain relief in the short term, but increase the risk of problems like heart attack, stroke, bacterial infection, and organ damage in the long term.
Nutrition plays a major role in all kinds of chronic illnesses. An anti-inflammatory diet using ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and garlic liberally can help. Limiting sugar and trans-fats (found in pastries and junk food) can cut 500 to 1000 calories per day, resulting in gradual weight loss. Excess body weight bearing on hips, knees, and ankles accelerates the onset of osteoarthritis.
Dr. Poehlmann is the author of Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Infection Connection, available at Amazon.com and major bookstores, or click here to order now.