The word “arthritis” literally means inflammation of the joints. Joints in the body occur where bones meet. Bone ends are covered by cartilage and are encased in a fluid-filled synovial membrane used to lubricate the joint. Common symptoms are generally pain, swelling, stiffness and reduced function/mobility. However, the root causes are not always the same. There are distinctive differences between Osteo Arthritis (OA: wear & tear/degenerative joint disease) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA: auto-immune/inflammatory disease). Let’s explore.
OA: Affects both men and women. Process can begin after the age of 40 and symptoms are often present by age of 65.
RA: More common in women and can affect anyone, at any age.
When & How
OA: Gradual onset & increase in severity. Characterized by deterioration of and decreased ability to turn over (replace) cartilage tissue. This can be due to altered enzyme activity, building block deficiency and repetitive use/damage. This results in painful friction of exposed joints rubbing together, leading to inflammation of joint lining. After much cartilage is worn away, bone spurs may develop in joint spaces.
RA: Rapid onset. Characterized by an auto-immune response that leads to a self-attack on synovial membrane, which in turn leads to its inflammation, thickening, cartilage destruction and scar tissue formation.
Number & Types of Joins Affected
OA: 1-2 joints, Asymmetrical (Not even on both sides – usually one side acts up first). Affects the weight-bearing joints (i.e. knees & hips).
RA: Multiple joints, Symmetrical (Affects both sides of the body the same way). Affects the synovial joints (i.e. hands & feet) but can progress to larger joints.
RA: Commonly affects other tissues throughout the body. Other symptoms include fever, depression, fatigue, etc.
Types & Causes
OA: 2 Types – Primary & Secondary.
Primary – Potential causes include age, obesity, high impact sports, excessive use/exercise, free radical damage, poor nutrition, dehydration.
Secondary – Results from a pre-disposing factor/condition such as joint or ligament damage/abnormality, infection, previous inflammation, loss of blood supply.
RA: Single Type.
Auto-immune response (when your body breaks itself down/attacks its own tissues). Potential underlying causes include poor digestion/diet (nutrition deficiencies, imbalance of gut bacteria, leaky gut, and food sensitivities), stress, chronic inflammation, heredity/genetics, imbalanced immune system, smoking/toxins and infections or overgrowth (i.e. candida).
Did you know 56% of patients with inflammatory arthritis have an imbalance of gut bacteria?
1. Symptom Relief:
- Natural Anti-inflammatories – Curcumin, Boswellia/Frankincense, MSM, Bromelain, Omega Fats (i.e. EPA from Fish Oils and GLA from Borage/Evening Primrose)
- Natural Pain Relief – White Willow, Serrapeptase
2. Tissue Protection: Look for Antioxidants (Quercetin, Zinc, Pycnogenol, Selenium, Vitamin E, Grape Seed Extract)
3. Repair Nutrients:
- Glucosamine/NAG – an amino sugar synthesized in the body that is found in high concentrations in our joints. It stimulates the production of key building blocks that form the cartilage needed for repair, protects existing cartilage and connective tissue of joints and increases cushioning to improve mobility and function.
- Chondroitin Sulfate – a natural substance found in cartilage that attracts water/nutrient-rich fluid into cartilage, inhibits enzymes that enhance destruction, stimulates production of key cartilage components, and works well with glucosamine to rebuild damage.
- Hyaluronic Acid – a compound present in every tissue of the body, with the highest concentrations occurring in connective tissues, such as cartilage. It is an important component of joint fluid, and serves as a lubricant while helping resist compression.
- Collagen – key structural protein that supports connective tissue formation! (Collagen Building Blocks: Vitamin C, Zinc, Biotin, Silica, Sulphur)
- Natural Eggshell Membrane –provides a natural source of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid & collagen and calcium
- SAMe – maintains cartilage health and contributes to the production of joint-supporting compounds such as glucosamine and chondroitin.
4. Topical Ingredients: Capsaicin, MSM, Arnica, Celadrin, Menthol, Peppermint, Eucalyptus.
5. Diet Tips: Avoid nightshades (i.e. tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplant, peppers and paprika), citrus, red meat, dairy, sugar, tobacco and any potential food sensitivities as they may aggravate pain & inflammation. Drink plenty of water. Eat mineral-rich and green foods to detox & alkalize. Eat more sulfur-containing foods such as garlic, onions, asparagus, etc.
6. Lifestyle Suggestions: Attain a healthy weight, manage stress and blood sugars, do light, non-weight bearing exercises (i.e. swimming). Consider wearing Cirulating Clothing!
7. Improve Gut Health: Ensure daily Probiotics and consider supplemental L-Glutamine, Enzymes/HCL, Fibre & Vitamin D3.
8. Modulate Immunity: Consider ingredients such as Plant Sterols, Medicinal Mushrooms or Saccharomyces Cerevisiae
9. Fight Infection (if necessary): Oregano, Silver, Garlic, Grapefruit Seed Extract