As September was just National Arthritis Month in Canada, I thought it would be timely to provide you with some information about some of the main types of arthritis, and some information on what you can do to avoid them, or minimize their impact if you do suffer from them.
There are over 100 types of arthritis. They can be generally divided into 2 categories – degenerative and inflammatory. The word arthritis literally means inflammation of the joint (“arth” meaning joint, and “itis” meaning inflammation).
Degenerative arthritis or osteoarthritis:
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent kind of arthritis, affecting more than 3 million Canadians, or 1 in 10 Canadian adults. It affects men and women equally past the age of 60. Anyone can get OA, but it is more common as we age.
When a joint degenerates, the cartilage gradually becomes rough, begins to wear away, and the bone underneath thickens. The joint may become inflamed with pain, warmth and swelling. Cartilage is a tough elastic material that covers and protects the ends of bones. In healthy joints, when you put weight on the joint, cartilage acts as a shock absorber. The slippery surface of the cartilage also allows the joints to move smoothly.
Although degenerative arthritis could have started earlier, most people begin to notice symptoms as they get into their 40s or 50s.
OA will usually cause the affected joints to become stiff in the morning, but the stiffness can lessen with movement. Pain may occur later in the day as the joints are used. If this results in less use of the joints, the muscles surrounding the joints weaken, causing further problems.
The joints that may be affected include:
- The end joints of fingers
- The middle joints of fingers
- The joint at the base of the thumb
- Joints at the base of the big toes
- Neck (cervical spine)
- Low back (lumbar spine)
Inflammatory arthritis can affect any joint in the body. The most common type of inflammatory arthritis is
rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
It is an autoimmune disorder (where the body’s immune system becomes confused and begins to “attack” the body) in which joints, usually including those of the hands and feet, are generally symmetrically inflamed, resulting in swelling and pain. This can lead to the eventual destruction of the joint’s interior. This disease develops in about 1% of the population, affecting women 2 to 3 times more often than men. Inflammatory arthritis can begin in a number of ways, the most common of which is a slow onset of joint pain and stiffness starting in 1 joint and spreading to more joints over a period of weeks to months. It can also start very dramatically, almost overnight, or it can start slowly with pain in joints that seems to move around from joint to joint. The inflammation in the joints may be accompanied by a loss of energy (fatigue). Some people also experience fever, weight loss or anemia.
is an inflammatory type of arthritis caused by uric acid crystals. Painful attacks occur when uric acid crystallized in the joints. Recurring attacks can cause permanent damage to the joints. Gout occurs more frequently in men than women. It affects about 2% of both men over age 30 and women over age 50 in Canada.
Other types of inflammatory arthritis include
ankylosing spondylitis (AS)
systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
These are both autoimmune disorders; AS affects between 150,000 and 300,000 Canadians and SLE affects nearly 17,000 Canadians. The cause of SLE is unknown, whereas 90% of people with AS have a specific gene. These are important types of arthritis (as are many others not mentioned here), but beyond the scope of this newsletter. For more information, please contact the Arthritis Society at www.arthritis.ca.
Fibromyalgia is a fairly common condition affecting 2% of Canadians. Fibromyalgia occurs more often in women than in men. It is seen most frequently in women over the age of 40, as the incidence of the disease increases with age. Although it was initially thought that fibromyalgia affected muscle tissue, it is now known that it is due to the impairment of pain processing mechanisms within the central nervous system. It is increasingly called “chronic widespread pain.” It involves generalized muscle pain, fatigue and poor sleep. Please check our website for testimonials on success stories in treating fibromyalgia.
There are risk factors that you can’t change such as age and family history of arthritis. However, there are several modifiable risk factors. Where not otherwise specified, please see the abbreviation(s) at the end of each bullet indicating the type of arthritis for which the advice is most relevant (OA [osteoarthritis], RA [rheumatoid arthritis], or G [gout] or all).
- Weight control is important so that your feet, knees and hips don’t have to carry more weight than they should. (all)
- Avoid joint injuries. OA is more likely to develop in joints that have suffered injuries.
- Physical activity protects joints by strengthening the muscles around them. This helps both prevent OA and to support joints that have been weakened and damaged by arthritis of any type. For people with arthritis, a properly developed program of physical activity reduces pain and fatigue, improves mobility and overall fitness and alleviates depression. This includes range of motion exercises, strengthening exercises, moderate stretching exercises and endurance exercises. (all)
- Researchers have laid to rest the myth that people with arthritis shouldn’t exercise – just the opposite is true. A study of 5,715 men and women with arthritis, aged 65 and older, showed that those with OA who exercise are less likely to develop physical limitations that hamper their daily lives. The more active seniors reduced their risk of decline by 50%.
- A study of 2,589 participants has shown that even a little extra activity can improve function and mobility among older adults with OA of the knee. Researchers assessed levels of physical activity at baseline and after 1 and 2 years. They found that both initially and at the 2-year mark, greater physical activity was correlated with faster walking speed.
- Another myth that has been laid to rest is that wear and tear on the joints alone causes OA. Research now shows that normal wear and tear does not actually cause the joints to degenerate. Normal activity and exercise is good rather than bad for joints and does not cause OA.
- Tai chi eases fibromyalgia symptoms. A clinical trial found that patients receiving training in tai chi showed significantly greater improvement in measurements of pain, fatigue, physical function, sleeplessness and depression than those in a control group. One third of the tai chi group improved enough to stop taking medication for their condition, compared to one sixth of the control group. Tai chi was originally developed as a martial art, but today is taught primarily as a gentle, low impact exercise.
- Fructose-rich drinks have been linked to gout. Researchers analyzed data on nearly 80,000 women over 22 years from the US Nurses’ Health Study and found an association between sweetened soft-drink and orange juice consumption and gout. Women with the highest fructose intake had a 62% higher risk of gout than those with the lowest.
- On the other hand, vitamin C has been linked to lower gout risk based on follow-up of 46,998 men over a 20 year period. Men who took daily vitamin C supplements of 1,000 to 1,499 mg had a 34% lower risk of gout than those not taking vitamin C supplements, and men taking 1,500 mg per day had a 45% lower risk. Overall, each 500 mg increase in daily vitamin C was associated with a 17% reduction in risk of gout.
- On the subject of vitamins, insufficient vitamin D could boost arthritis risk. A study of 1,104 older men found that low blood levels of vitamin D (15.1 – 30 ng/mL) were associated with greater likelihood of osteoarthritis, and correspondingly, men with higher levels (above 30 ng/mL) were less likely to have arthritis of the hip.
- Diets high in fibre – about 28 grams daily – reduce levels of C reactive protein (CRP), which is an indication of inflammation in the body. This is considered to be related to arthritis as well as heart disease. A study found the effects of fibre were most pronounced in thinner people, who saw CRP reductions of 40% compared to just 10% in overweight people.
- It follows that people who eat diets rich in fruits and vegetables, good sources of dietary fibre, lowered their CRP levels. Foods rich in carotenoids, such as carrots, peppers and other red and orange produce, were most strongly associated with CRP reductions. Strawberries were linked to reduced CRP levels in another study at the Harvard School of Public Health.
- The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish (DPA and EHA) (see Newsletter April 2009) have also been linked with reducing inflammation related to arthritis. It is important to consume lower levels of omega-6 to avoid creating inflammation through the activity of COX-2 enzymes. This means that while vegetable oils are still better than saturated fat, those high in omega-6 could contribute to inflammation related to arthritis.
- Olive oil may combat inflammation in much the same way that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain killers do. Research has found that a compound in olive oil called oleocanthal blocks the production of COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. However, it would take a lot of olive oil – about 3.5 tablespoons (at about 400 calories) to get the anti-inflammatory benefit of a 200 mg ibuprofen pill.
- Reduce consumption of red meat to reduce your risk of both rheumatoid arthritis and gout.
There are many Nature’s Sunshine products that can help prevent or treat symptoms of arthritis.
ART-A with Devil’s Claw
- Nutritionally supports the structural system. This combination contains the important ingredient, white willow bark, from which the pain-reliever, Aspirin®, was discovered. The other important ingredient, Devil’s Claw, is a famous South African herb with 250 years of folk history for relieving joint pain and swelling.
Cat's Claw (Una de Gato)
- Una de Gato (Immune, Intestinal & Structural systems).
Uncaria tomentosa commonly known as Una de Gato or Cat's Claw, grows in the rain forests of Peru and has been used for centuries for its nutritional benefits. The Ashanika Indians esteem Una de Gato tea as a sacred beverage, using it to cleanse and strengthen the immune, intestinal and structural systems of the body.
Collatrim Capsules and Collatrim Powder
- Collatrim helps the body obtain a favourable ratio of the fat-storing hormone insulin and the fat-burning hormone glucagon, while stimulating the release of human growth hormone, which burns fat and strengthens and supports muscle tissue. Collagen is also important for healthy skin and strong joints.
Collatrim is a unique protein supplement that supports the collagen structures of the body, improving joint function and strength, and enhancing skin health and tone. In many cases, the breakdown of joint cartilage may be able to be stopped or even reversed by enhancing the repair and regeneration of connective tissue.
Eight Combination Herb -
Nutritionally supports the nervous and structural systems. Contains the important herb, white willow bark, from which the pain-reliever, aspirin®, was derived.
Healthy joints are vital to overall health, especially as we age. Our bodies slow down the production of glucosamine as we get older. This problem is made worse by poor diet and the overuse of joints (repetitive motion through sports or occupational activities).
EverFlex benefits the structural system and supports healthy joints. It offers the nutritional advantages of glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM combined with devil’s claw herb in one convenient tablet.
Glucosamine protects connective tissues and helps maintain the integrity of mobile joints while Chondroitin sulfate attracts fluid and draws nutrients into the cartilage. These two ingredients together help the joints maintain their shock-absorbing properties. Supplementing with MSM ensures an adequate supply of sulfur. Sulfur is an important structural component of the connective tissue that joins muscle to bone. Devil’s claw, an herb long used to help alleviate the pain that accompanies eroding joints, rounds out the EverFlex formula.
EverFlex Pain Cream
is a fast-acting topical pain reliever that goes on light, is non-greasy and easily absorbed, and doesn’t stain clothing. It has potential for anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. The penetrating action of EverFlex Analgesic Cream provides temporary relief of aches and pains of muscles and joints associated with backache, lumbago, strains, bruises, sprains and arthritic or rheumatic pain, pain of tendons and ligaments. It is also useful for tired, aching muscles. Its active ingredient is menthol.
In addition to menthol, EverFlex cream contains a proprietary blend of fatty acid esters (cetylated fatty acids), olive oil (Olea europaea) and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM).
Clinical studies have shown that the cetylated fatty acid esters help promote joint mobility and flexibility. These compounds may also be good carriers for other active ingredients, helping to enhance their absorption through the skin.
- Ginger has been cultivated for thousands of years in China and India, and is still most widely cultivated in the East. It was brought to America in the 16th century by the Spanish. At one point, it was second only to pepper as the most common English spice. Ginger is very popular in the food industry as an additive in ginger-ale, candies, pastries and cakes. Its uses, of course, are not confined to food preparation. It is written about in many ancient Chinese herbals, and is an ingredient in as many as half of all Chinese herbal combinations. The Chinese use it to buffer the effects of stronger herbs and also drink it regularly as a tea. Ginger nutritionally supports the digestive process. The root has a strong, sweet scent. It contains protein, fat, carbohydrates, ash, calcium, phosphorous, iron, sodium, potassium, vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, ascorbic acid, silicon, magnesium and manganese.
While ginger is best known as a remedy for nausea, it is also effective as an anti-inflammatory for arthritic pain.
is a Chinese herbal combination for reducing heat and inflammation in the body. IF-C enhances the body’s detoxifying and eliminating functions, soothes inflamed and irritated tissues, alleviates pain, calms nervous tension, and provides mild diuretic and laxative actions.
IF-C is useful for a variety of inflammatory and feverish conditions, including ear infection, eye infection, joint problems, urinary dysfunction, skin diseases, sore throat, menstrual disorders, muscle cramps and several other disorders.
Magnesium Malate (formerly Fibralgia)
- Millions of Americans suffer from chronic muscle soreness, stiffness and fatigue, a condition known as fibromyalgia. Researchers have recently found that many people with these signs of discomfort respond to supplements containing malic acid and magnesium. This formula provides fuel for energy and nutrition for painful stiff, sore muscles and fatigue which may result from muscle breakdown in an attempt to create energy. Malic acid is found naturally in high concentration in apples, grapes and cranberries.
(methylsufonylmethane) occurs naturally in the form of non-metal dietary sulfur. Dietary sulfur is derived entirely from our diet, however, with soil depletion contents of sulfur in foods varies widely. MSM's traditional benefits include helping to strengthen connective tissues and maintain healthy joints, increased circulation, reduced inflammation due to joint swelling and pain, free radical scavenging, helps regulate blood sugar as a component of insulin relieves severe allergic symptoms and asthma, and helps strengthen and beautify skin, hair and nails through proper collagen formation.
- Silver compounds have been used medicinally for centuries. Greek and Roman societies stored liquids in silver-lined containers to keep them fresh. American settlers traveling west would put a silver dollar in milk to delay its spoiling.
The use of silver as medicine was widespread until World War II when antibiotics became the standard treatment for infections. However, due to overuse, many pathogenic organisms are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Recently, silver has been reintroduced as a natural alternative to fight bacterial infections at early stages of illness. Research indicates that Silver (with Aqua Sol Technology) is an effective immune system booster, discouraging the growth of unwanted invaders. SilverGuard is an effective alternative to other products on the market.
Silverguard may be helpful in situations where joint pain may be caused by bacteria.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are one of four basic fats that the body derives from foods. (The other three are cholesterol, saturated fat, and monounsaturated fat). Some of the other fats, especially too much saturated fat, can be harmful to the body, but Omega-3s are good for the body and especially good for the heart and brain.NSP Advantage Super Omega-3 softgels contain more than 1,000 mg fish oil per capsule, with a ratio of 33:16 EPA to DHA. It also contains lemon to significantly reduce the aftertaste from fish oil and to reduce gas. NSP conducts extensive quality assurance testing to verify the purity of its products. The oil in Super Omega-3 is highly purified using molecular distillation. DHA and EPA are anti-inflammatory, and have been shown to help with joint pain caused by arthritis.
- Vitamin D is vital to the health of your skeletal and immune systems. The body manufactures this essential vitamin through sun exposure, making it difficult to obtain adequate amounts of vitamin D during the cloudy winter months or when sunscreen is used. Vitamin D comes in two forms: D2 and D3. Of the two, D3 is more bioactive. The body synthesizes vitamin D3 from sunlight; it cannot be obtained through foods. In the body, vitamin D is responsible for maintaining normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, helping to build strong bones. Vitamin D may also contribute to the overall health of the cardiovascular system. Vitamin D works with other vitamins, minerals and hormones to promote bone mineralization. Vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of arthritis (see above).
is a blend of the most healthful fruits and nutritional supplements from all over the world. Zambroza is replete with xanthones, bioflavonoids and powerful antioxidants. Bioflavonoids give fruits and vegetables their bright colors. In the body, bioflavonoids enhance vitamin C absorption and help maintain collagen and capillary walls. They also aid in the body’s immune–defense system.
Antioxidants scavenge the free radicals that the body accumulates as a byproduct of energy production as well as through pollution, tobacco smoke, ultraviolet light and radiation. This helps prevent inflammation that may be related to arthritis. Antioxidants benefit virtually every organ and body system because they mop up damaging free radicals. Zambroza delivers a punch of antioxidant protection with a very high ORAC value. (ORAC is a measure of a product’s antioxidant strength).
Among Zambroza’s key ingredients is mangosteen, a tasty fruit found in eastern tropical nations, such as Thailand. Mangosteen contains the greatest known supply of compounds called xanthones. Xanthones offer powerful immune and cardiovascular support. Other ingredients in this nutritious juice include wolfberry, sea buckthorn, red grapes, grape seeds, grape skins, raspberries, blueberries, apple extract and green tea.
For additional information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org; or call Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic at 613.829.0427 for an appointment. Please continue sharing our newsletters with friends and family. Visit our web site at http://ramilashealingartsclinic.com/index for back issues of this newsletter,
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The suggestions and recommendations in this newsletter are not intended to be prescriptive or diagnostic. The information is accurate and up to date to our knowledge, but we are not responsible for any errors in our sources of information.
1)Canada Calendar of Health Promotion Days. Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/calend/index-eng.php Accessed August 25, 2011.
2)What is arthritis? The Arthritis Society www.arthritis.ca Accessed August 25, 2011
3)Thompson A. Osteoarthritis – Know Your Options. The Arthritis Society www.arthritis.ca Accessed August 25, 2011.
4)Thompson A. Rheumatoid arthritis – Know your options. The Arthritis Society www.arthritis.ca Accessed August 25, 2011.
5)The Merck Manual of Medical Information, Home Edition. R. Berkow, M.H. Beers, A.J. Fletcher, eds. New York: Pocket Books, 1997.
6)Choi H, Bell D. Gout. The Arthritis Society www.arthritis.ca Accessed August 25, 2011.
7)Thompson A. Ankylosing spondylitis – Know your options. The Arthritis Society. www.arthritis.ca Accessed August 25, 2011.
8)Fortin P. Lupus. The Arthritis Society. www.arthritis.ca Accessed August 25, 2011.
9)Fibromyalgia. The Arthritis Society www.arthritis.ca Accessed August 25, 2011.
10)Alves F. Those achy, breaky joints. Partners – The AIM Newsmagazine October 1999, 14-16.
11)Exercise my keep arthritis from triggering decline. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2005;23(5):1-2.
12)Arthritis sufferers benefit from increased activity. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Update January 7, 2011.
13)What you can do about arthritis. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2010;28(10):4-5.
14)Fructose-rich drinks linked to gout. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Update November 12, 2010.
15)Vitamin C linked to lower gout risk. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2009;27(4):8.
16)Insufficient vitamin D could boost arthritis risk. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2010;28(3):8.
17)Brewing up health benefits for coffee. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2008;25(11):4-5.
18)Cut the red meat to reduce rheumatoid arthritis risk. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2005;23(1):8.
These newsletters will help you make better choices for better health. The choices that you make today can either have a positive or negative impact on your overall health. Begin by choosing better. It is a step toward longevity.
Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic