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6 Ways to Fight Osteoarthritis with Food

Move over, apples, it’s time to start sharing the spotlight.

We’ve all heard “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” but more and more research is showing health benefits of a variety of other foods too. Especially when it comes to osteoarthritis.

As the approximately 27 million Americans who suffer from it can attest, it often begins slowly with stiffness and soreness that is uncomfortable but not seemingly serious. Some lucky people stay at this level while others have it grow increasingly painful and debilitating to the point simple tasks like walking and sleeping are difficult. It can affect a variety of joints but the knees, back and hips are frequent victims.

A number of factors can cause it ranging from being overweight and/or older to overusing the joint or having a previous injury to simply being unlucky genetically-speaking. While there is no cure, maintaining a proper weight and staying active are key—as well as eating nutritious foods.

Inflammation in particular is a big enemy when it comes to keeping osteoarthritis at bay as it creates free radicals which can damage the cushions between joints (as well as various other body tissues).

Foods that can help fight against inflammation are some of the following:

  • Antioxidants—Antioxidants are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables including strawberries, apples, onions, kale and blueberries among others. Green tea and cocoa powder contain them as well.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids—This nutritional powerhouse is common in fish such as salmon, tuna, trout and sardines so aim for at least two 3-ounce servings a week. Walnuts and omega-3 fortified eggs are other options.
  • Olive Oil—Olive oil contains the compound oleocanthal which acts similarly to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Next time instead of popping a 200 mg pill, try 3-and-a-half tablespoons of olive oil instead. (When possible use it instead of butter and other fats as olive oil is relatively high in calories.)
  • Spices—Spices especially turmeric and ginger also seem to have anti-inflammatory benefits.

Getting enough of certain vitamins is also critical. For example:

  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C can be found in everything from oranges, strawberries and kiwi to tomatoes and bell peppers to broccoli and kale and is important in maintaining cartilage health.
  • Vitamin D – Vitamin D may also help keep cartilage healthy so eat fortified milk and eggs, wild-caught salmon and shrimp and various Vitamin D and calcium-fortified foods like cereal and orange juice.

Finally, it’s important to avoid a few things too. Saturated and trans fats, excess salt and sugar should all be consumed in moderation if at all. Also, watch out for AGEs or advanced glycation end products which can end up in foods that are cooked at high temperatures and lead to inflammation. Examples include fried, grilled and broiled meats as well as some processed foods.

So go ahead and eat those apples…but make sure to add some of these other powerhouses to the plate as well.

by Kristen Stewart
Kristen is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, parenting and lifestyle topics. To learn more, visit her website at www.kristenestewart.com.

 

References

 


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Can the B Vitamins Help Improve the Pain Associated with Osteoarthritis?

The B Vitamins have many beneficial effects. Vitamin B1, or thiamine, is important for our cells to work efficiently. Vitamin B6 is vital for healthy nerve function and Vitamin B12, or cyanocobalamin, has numerous functions including keeping our brain, nerves, and blood cells healthy. These three B vitamins, when taken together may have another important benefit: pain relief. Specifically, these three B vitamins may help decrease the pain associated with osteoarthritis (OA). Moreover, they may augment the anti-pain and anti-inflammatory effect of other medications and supplements you may  already be taking.

A study was undertaken to examine the pain-relieving effects of a commonly prescribed anti-inflammatory medication Diclofenac alone compared to Diclofenac plus the B vitamins together. The doses of the B vitamins were 100 mg of Vitamin B1, 100 mg Vitamin B6 and 5 mg of Vitamin B 12. Fifty patients were randomized to either receive an injection of Diclofenac alone or this medication plus the B vitamins.  In follow-up, the study investigators found that the group that had received both the Diclofenac and B vitamins reported improved pain relief when compared to the group that did not.

Other studies have demonstrated that pain-relieving effects of an anti-inflammatory medication or supplements are improved when combined with B vitamins. In an experimental model of OA, researchers demonstrated that when combining Vitamin B1 with Glucosamine and Chondroitin, they found that the Vitamin B1 enhanced the joint-protective effects of the Glucosamine and Chondroitin.

What does the above information suggest? If you have OA, especially severe OA, the combination of B vitamins, especially Vitamin B1, B6 and B12, can enhance the pain-relieving effects of anti-inflammatory medications that you may be taking. Remember that there are a significant number of natural supplements that have potent anti-inflammatory effects, including Turmeric, Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), and Avocado Extract. Many of them can provide natural anti-inflammatory relief as well as anti-oxidant support without having to deal with the many side effects of a prescription medication.

By Rich Snyder, DO

References

  • Koboyashi T, Notoya K et al. “Fursultiamine, a vitamin B1 derivative, enhances chondroprotective effects of glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate in rabbit experimental osteoarthritis.” Inflammation Research. 2005 Jun;54(6):249-55.
  • Magana-Villa MC, Rocha-Gonzalez HI et al. “B-vitamin Mixture Improves the Analgesic Effect of Diclofenac in Patients with Osteoarthritis: A Double Blind Study.” Drug Research.  2013 Jun;63(6):289-92
  • Mibielli MA, Geller M et al. “Diclofenac plus B vitamins versus diclofenac monotherapy in lumbago: the DOLOR study.” Current Medical Research and Opinion. 2009 Nov;25(11):2589-99.

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SAMe: An Effective Treatment for Osteoarthritis

S-adenosylmethionine, or SAMe, is a supplement that has been extensively studied for the treatment of depression. Note that SAMe is also normally found in the body; it is located in all of our body’s cells. It is produced from methionine, which is a naturally occurring amino acid and adenosine triphosphate (or ATP) which produces the energy your cells need to work efficiently. SAMe is also an antioxidant that has been used in the treatment of liver disease. Several studies have demonstrated that it is also effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA). Research concerning this supplement has spanned over the last several decades.

In one study, thirty-six individuals diagnosed with OA of the hip, knees and/or the back were randomized to receive either 1200 mg of SAMe once daily or the same dose of ibuprofen once daily for a period of four weeks. Both treatment groups reported similar improvement in pain relief, joint flexibility, and decreased swelling. Many studies involving thousands of patients have demonstrated the treatment efficacy of this supplement comparable to prescription anti-inflammatories. This supplement has an excellent safety profile as well.

SAMe works in many ways to help in the treatment of OA including decreasing inflammation and increasing the levels of cellular antioxidants (which help fight off the free radicals that can cause cell damage). In addition to treating OA, you also have the added benefits of treating depression and providing a tremendous antioxidant boost to your liver to improve your liver health. Therefore, consider adding SAMe to your treatment regimen.

By: Dr. Rich Snyder, DO

References

  • Di Padova C. “S-adenosylmethionine in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Review of the clinical studies.” American Journal of Medicine. 1987 Nov 20;83(5A):60-5.
  • Hosea-Blewett HJ. “Exploring the mechanisms behind S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) in the treatment of osteoarthritis.” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2008 May;48(5):458-63.
  • Muller-Fassbender H. “Double-blind clinical trial of S-adenosylmethionine versus ibuprofen in the treatment of osteoarthritis.” 1987 Nov 20;83(5A):81-3.

Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/banky177/43153654

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Diabetes: A Significant Risk Factor for the Development of Osteoarthritis

Diabetes is a disease that affects many organs in the body including the eyes called retinopathy (ret-i-naa-pa-thee), kidneys called nephropathy (nef-ro-pa-thee), and nerves called neuropathy (neur-o-pa-thee). It is a leading cause of blindness and the most common cause of both kidney failure and nerve damage in this country. In addition, it is a major cause of heart disease and vascular disease. Now, we find that having diabetes is also a significant predictor for the development of severe osteoarthritis (OA).

A study from Diabetes Care, a published peer-reviewed journal,  followed over 900 patients for over twenty years that varied in age from 40 to 80 years old. The researchers found that diabetes was a very strong predictor for needing an arthroplasty, a surgical repair or replacement of the damaged joint. There was a significant increase in the number of people with diabetes who needed surgical intervention for OA compared to those who did not have diabetes. The authors concluded that diabetes is a significant risk factor for the development of OA.

If you have diabetes, your overall bone health is significantly compromised. Not only are you at risk for osteoarthritis but you are at significant risk for developing two other potentially debilitating bone conditions. One such condition is osteoporosis, or a loss of bone density. Thus, your risk of bone fractures increases with diabetes. In addition,  uncontrolled blood glucose levels increase the risk of developing a bone infection called osteomyelitis.

Paying close attention to your blood glucose levels is very important to help protect the health of your bones and to prevent the development of OA.

By: Dr. Rich Snyder, DO

References

  • Adami S. “Bone health in diabetes: considerations for clinical management.” Current Medical Research and Opinion. 2009 May; 25(5):1057-72. Schett G, Kleyer A et al. “Diabetes is an independent predictor for severe osteoarthritis: results from a longitudinal cohort study.” Diabetes Care 2013 Feb;36(2):403-9.

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How the Tart Cherry and Noni Helped Relieve My Knee Pain from Osteoarthritis

During high school and early college years, I was an avid runner. I usually averaged thirty to forty miles on a weekly basis. Not too long ago I began to have some discomfort in my left knee. The pain was intermittent, but I noticed a difference in how I was walking and how I began to try to compensate and bear more weight on my right knee. I had an iridology examination and during that examination I was asked if I had any discomfort in my left knee. Amazed, I said yes. I was told that I had findings consistent with early osteoarthritis in that knee.

I needed to take steps and wanted to do everything I could to not only try and decrease the stress and weight on that knee but also help with the pain. I began to change my diet to a more alkaline based diet and started a strengthening program to work on the muscle groups around the knee including the quadriceps and the hamstring muscles.

While I noticed a modest level of improvement, I was still having twinges of pain. I needed to do something more to try and help with the pain. While I was aware of the abundance of natural alternatives to help me with my pain issues, I noted several of my patients were having good results with tart cherry extract for their arthritis pain, and others who were taking Noni also reported a decrease in their level of pain. For my own situation, I thought that the prudent thing to do was combine the two together deciding to use the liquid form of both.

Using a small shot glass, the first thing I did in the morning was consumed a “shot” consisting of 1 ounce of tart cherry extract and two ounces of Noni. I did this twice a day. After about four or five days of this concoction, I noticed a significant improvement in my knee discomfort as well as overall sense of feeling better. As with any nutritional supplement, the benefits of both are much more than pain relief.

Montmorency tart cherry extract (MTCE) is an excellent anti-oxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, it has heart protective benefits. MTCE also does not raise blood glucose levels, so this can be taken if you have diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with any “inflammatory condition” such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) or Lupus, then you definitely need to consider adding this to your daily treatment regimen to help reduce pain and inflammation.

Noni juice has many benefits in addition to pain relief. It helps decrease the formation of xanthine oxidase, which is the enzyme responsible for producing uric acid, responsible for gout. I find that many of my patients with OA also have other forms of arthritis, gout being one of them. It can help lower blood glucose levels, which can really help if you have diabetes. It can also help improve your gut motility, which improves digestion and absorption of nutrients. I tend to recommend on average 1 ounce twice a day, and then slowly increase. There is one aspect of Noni to be aware of – it has high potassium content. If you have kidney disease you may need a lower dose. This is something to speak with your healthcare practitioner if this pertains to you.

Note that the taste of liquid Noni is an acquired one. One of the reasons I like mixing the tart cherry with the Noni is that the cherry extract for me does an excellent job of masking the bitterness of the Noni. If you have OA, consider adding this “liquid combo” to your regimen. The dosing schedule is easy to remember: 1 ounce (a shot) of each twice a day to start.

by Dr. Rich Snyder, DO

  • Kuehl KS, Perrier ET et al. “Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2010 May 7;7:17.
  • Palu A, Deng S et al. “Xanthine oxidase inhibiting effects of noni (Morinda citrifolia) fruit juice.” Phytotherapy Research. 2009 Dec;23(12):1790-1
  • Schumacher HR, Pullan-Mooar S et al. “Randomized double-blind crossover study of the efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.” Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2013 Aug;21(8):1035-41.
  • Wang MY, West BJ et al. “Morinda citrifolia (Noni): a literature review and recent advances in Noni research.” Acta Pharmologica Sinica 2002 Dec;23(12):1127-41.

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Osteoarthritis after Pregnancy

There is no question about it that hormonal change during and after pregnancy can leave most women feeling like a completely different person. Often times, women are left wondering “will I ever feel like myself again?” While for many women, the answer is quite simply yes – in time. For some women, however, the hormonal changes and joint movement that occurs naturally during and after pregnancy can leave a painful condition known as secondary osteoarthritis.

While the true cause of osteoarthritis is debatable, the causes of secondary osteoarthritis can result from many things. These can include injury, genetic disposition, nutritional deficiency, and of course – pregnancy. Relative to most other areas that tend to be affected by osteoarthritis, the hips in child-bearing women are among the most effected by secondary osteoarthritis.

Certain hormonal changes allow women’s bodies to adjust to the growing demand of both pregnancy and childbirth. One of the most notable changes is the production of relaxin, a hormone that increases the mobility or movement of joints within the body. This hormone is vital to pregnancy because it allows the hips to spread and move to prepare for childbirth. While its biological design during pregnancy is to increase the width of the hips, relaxing can also affect other often used joints such as wrists, elbows, and knees. This excess mobility in the joints is usually the culprit behind occasional pregnancy clumsiness.

In some occasions, especially if a woman was predisposed to any type of arthritis or has had a previous injury, the production of relaxin can greatly increase the risk of developing secondary osteoarthritis. Once the joints begin to be affected by relaxin, in many cases the joints do not react the same after the pregnancy has ended. Inflammation, discomfort, and displacement can commonly result after pregnancy thus aggravating a form of osteoarthritis that was otherwise undisturbed.

Essentially, it is important to try to incorporate joint health for any woman that is thinking about pregnancy, pregnant, or post-pregnancy. Always allowing the body to rest if joints and muscles feel tired and supplementing with as much activity as can be tolerated can also help with secondary osteoarthritis. Having strong diets that include calcium and vitamins E, D, and C can also help reduce the risks of developing secondary osteoarthritis during pregnancy.

While most women rarely feel “normal” after pregnancy, developing osteoarthritis can make a woman feel like someone that she never was before. This condition can be painful and debilitating – not to mention a little bit inconvenient with a new baby. Trying to maintain a proper diet before, during, and after pregnancy along with basic fitness can help to avoid or treat secondary osteoarthritis.

Reference:

  • completenutritionandwellness.com/2011/04/arthritis-after-pregnancy-how-you-can-relieve-post-pregnancy-complications/
  • yourhormones.info/hormones/relaxin.aspx

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Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury: A Risk Factor for Osteoarthritis

Injury to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) of the knee is the most common type of orthopedic trauma that occurs in young athletes. Can damage to the ACL be a risk factor for the development of osteoarthritis (OA) later in life? The answer is yes. In fact, research demonstrates that over fifty percent of those with a prior ACL injury can develop symptomatic osteoarthritis in as little as ten years after the incident occurred. Did you know that changes in the integrity of the cartilage can be seen as early as one to two years after an acute injury and women are four times as likely to tear their ACL tear when compared to men?

In a study from the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, the authors followed sixty one participants, of whom forty-five were male. The average age of the participants in the study was 25. All of them had documented prior injury to their ACL. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) was obtained of the damaged knee at three, six, twelve, and twenty-four months following the injury.

Changes in the integrity of the cartilage were observed over the two year span. Specifically, researchers demonstrated that there was bone thinning in the femur bone and new bone lesions appeared in twenty-one of the study participants. These new bone lesions may be a delayed reaction from this initial trauma. This study demonstrated that there is long-term damage to the bone and cartilage even if the person recovered from the acute injury. Risks factors for the bone thinning seen were older age and male gender.

Another study showed that for those individuals with prior ACL tears who develop OA, it is the lateral aspects of the femur and tibia that seem to be most affected. Other changes included a decrease in the bone surface area as well as damage to other ligaments (menisci) of the knee.

What can we do to reduce the risk? The first is to educate coaches, parents and athletes themselves of the potential long-term ramifications of an acute knee injury. If one occurs, rest needs to be allotted so the young athlete’s acute injury can properly heal. Avoiding overuse is easier said than done in our ultra-competitive environment.

Preventing these injuries from occurring in the first place is very important. Many young athletes either play one sport year round or are multi-sport athletes participating in athletics throughout the year. There needs to be time to allow the bones and joints to rest and recover. Many coaches and athletic trainers are changing their training focus to allow for rest days during the week.

Did you know that there are techniques that can be taught to athletes to prevent ACL injuries from occurring in the first place? Adding neuromuscular training to the athlete’s regimen can dramatically decrease the incidence of developing an acute ACL injury. These are training exercises that teach the young athlete how to use their legs properly. Focused prevention techniques such as neuromuscular training, proper nutrition, and allowing for periods of rest and recovery can reduce their risk of developing ACL injury and likely save them from developing symptomatic OA later in life. For more information on dynamic neuromuscular training to reduce the risk of developing ACL injuries, click on the following link: http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/acl-injury-prevention.aspx

References

  • Friel NA, Chu R. “The role of ACL injury in the development of posttraumatic knee osteoarthritis.” Clinics in Sport Medicine. 2013 Jan; 32(1):1-12.
  • Frobell RB. “Change in cartilage thickness, posttraumatic bone marrow lesions, and joint fluid volumes after acute ACL disruption: a two-year prospective MRI study of sixty-one subjects.” Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. 2011 Jun 15;93(12):1096-103.
  • Myer GD, Ford KF “ Rationale and Clinical Techniques for Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Prevention Among Female Athletes.” Journal of Athletic Training. 2004 Oct-Dec; 39(4): 352–364.
  • Stein V, Li L et al. “Pattern of joint damage in persons with knee osteoarthritis and concomitant ACL tears.” Rheumatology International. 2012 May;32(5):1197-208.

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How to Use Your Local Farmers Market to Treat Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, and Migraines

It is no secret that diet plays a large role in treating many different types of conditions. But in the spring and summer months there is plethora of medicinal treatment options set up at little tables in communities all across the county – Farmers Markets. Farmers markets are the off-shoot of nature’s bounty providing a virtual organic pharmacy disguised by sweet, fresh, and delicious produce. Here are some farmer’s market gems for treatment of Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, and Migraines.

Fibromyalgia

  • Cherries and Raspberries – Having strong anti-inflammatory values, most red fruits can have a stronger pain and inflammation reduction value that is ten times the average aspirin treatment. Recent studies have also shown that tart cherries can also help with sleep problems that are often associated with Fibromyalgia.
  • Cantaloupe, Watermelon, Broccoli, Collard Greens, and Kale – The local farmer’s market favorites are proven alkaline forming foods. Adding these to a Fibromyalgia diet can also reduce inflammation and help to combat the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which is commonly diagnosed as a co-morbidity with Fibromyalgia.

Osteoarthritis

  • Strawberries, Bell Peppers, and Cauliflower – High in vitamin C and absolute staples to get from any farmers market, produce power houses provide a healthy dose of vitamin C which is vital in the formation of both collagen and proteoglycans.
  • Spinach, Pumpkin, Tomatoes, and Carrots – These market gems are high in beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is strong antioxidant that helps reduce the progression of Osteoarthritis.

Migraines

  • Spinach – Especially when eaten raw, spinach contains high levels of vitamin B-12 which is often prescribed as a supplement to help combat migraine pain.
  • Green Beans, Kale, and other leafy greens – These green veggies are high in magnesium, a powerful element that can help reduce tension in muscles as well as help the reaction of nerve and muscles cells.

Whether it’s just to help local economy or a conscious effort to bring more fruits and vegetables into your diet, visiting your local farmer’s market can provide relief for many conditions including Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, and Migraines. Just by its nature of getting a person outside and moving, a farmer’s market can provide exercise, fresh air, and the added bonus of a growing ‘pharmacy’ to treat chronic pain conditions.

Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/29233640@N07/9223899743

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Using Gym Equipment Correctly To Treat Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis has a long list of symptoms that generally have long-term physical impacts. With the onset of pain, sufferers often reach for both over the counter medications and prescription medication. With OA patients, however, it is often suggested to incorporate a strong fitness routine to both increase strength and improve joint mobility. Using gym equipment can have many positive results for OA when used correctly.

The best equipment to incorporate into a fitness routine for Osteoarthritis are those that of a low impact work out on the joints and muscles. Great examples of quality gym equipment to use for treatment include a stationary bike and the elliptical machine. These both provide movement that encourages range of motion and strengthening, especially for the knees and hips which are oftentimes big problem areas for OA patients.

Low weight training can also be extremely beneficial when trying to treat Osteoarthritis. Using resistance training can help to strengthen the muscles and joints that are affected. Just adding free weights and doing light lifts and shoulder rolls can help build muscle stamina and increase range of motion in the shoulders and joints throughout the arms.

One of the easiest pieces of equipment to use, that can be tremendously beneficial for OA patients, is the treadmill. Walking every day not only increases joint motion, but also keeps muscles loose and moving. Using a treadmill in the home or gym eliminates weather influences that can sometimes be a big issue for OA patients. Adding some light ankle weights can further provide strength in the knees and hips.

When used correctly, gym equipment certainly has a place in the treatment of Osteoarthritis. Utilizing fitness equipment can provide relief, strength, and stamina for OA patients without introducing more medications. It is important to note that any fitness plan should be closely monitored by a doctor and/or a trained fitness professional to ensure safety and success. However, adding a fitness routine into the care plan for OA patients can prove to be extremely beneficial and have long term positive results.

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The Science Behind Acupuncture As Treatment For Osteoarthritis

Acupuncture Explained

Acupuncture is one of the most ancient healing practices in the world and a key component of traditional Chinese medicine. Dating back about 2,000 years Acupuncture refers to a collection of procedures involving the stimulation of points on the body by using very thin, stainless steel needles. These needles penetrate through the skin at 365 meridian points and then are manipulated either manually or via electrical stimulation. Stimulation of these points is thought to correct the body’s imbalance in the flow of qi (pronounced CHEE). It is believed that the blockage in the flow of qi is the root cause of disease and illness.

Trying to understand qi, an invisible life source coursing throughout our bodies, has long baffled scientists and doctors – especially those trained in Western medicine. Skepticism about Acupuncture has long existed, and continues to this day. However, there is a growing body of research that supports the effectiveness of Acupuncture in the treatment of a variety of diseases and conditions – particularly with pain management. The medical and scientific community no longer view Acupuncture as quack medicine or as a treatment without merit.

The Science Behind Acupuncture

The scientific world does not fully understand how acupuncture works. Yet, with greater technological advancements scientists are able to utilize objective measurements such as neuro imaging, thermal imagining and doppler ultrasound to document the very real effects of Acupuncture. Research has demonstrated that Acupuncture impacts a variety of the body’s systems. It activates anti-inflammatory chemicals, releases particular hormones, and inhibits cell receptors – some of which control the pain experience. Early researchers believed that the benefits of Acupuncture resulted from the release of endorphins that caused the “feel good” sensation. However, recent research is demonstrating that there are possibly several mechanisms of action that occur with Acupuncture to include blood flow, the stretching of connective tissue, and nerve signals that reboot the autonomic nervous system. Some theories about how Acupuncture works include:

  • The release of neurotransmitters
  • Effects on the stress response system (or the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis)
  • Gate control theory in which stimulation of certain pain nerves creates a competing pain sensation in the body which results in a decrease of pain.

Neuroimaging studies show how specific networks in the brain respond during Acupuncture when different areas either light up or show a decrease in activity before, during, and following an Acupuncture treatment. In fact, many scientifically rigorous studies have demonstrated that Acupuncture calms areas of the brain that register pain, increase the blood flow in treated areas, and cause a decrease in inflammation.

A meta-analysis conducted in 2012 reviewed all of the relevant scientific research on Acupuncture and concluded that this form of ancient Chinese medicine is indeed effective in the treatment of chronic pain. It is also proving itself to be an effective non-pharmacological treatment for Osteoarthritis, Migraines, and Fibromyalgia.

The World Health Organization published a long list of the diseases, symptoms and conditions for which Acupuncture has been proven to treat as demonstrated through controlled clinical trials. There is an even longer list of all the body’s ailments where Acupuncture has demonstrated effective results, but research needs to be continued. These include a wide variety of circulatory disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, immune disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, ear-nose-and throat disorders, carpel tunnel, addictions and some psychiatric conditions. It also has a long and well-documented history of helping with post-operative nausea, the side effects of chemotherapy and chronic pain, such as the pain that occurs with Osteoarthritis.

Acupuncture and Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Pain and stiffness resulting from Osteoarthritis has a significant impact on quality of life, activity level, and mobility. Western medicine’s treatment of choice is typically anti-inflammatory medication which often have unpleasant side effects.

Enough compelling studies have reported that the traditional form of Acupuncture delivered by a trained, qualified individual is more effective in pain relief of Osteoarthritis than a placebo. Pain management research on Acupuncture has been rigorous enough that the Osteoarthritis Research Society International released recommendations in 2008 stating that Acupuncture may be an important component of treatment for Osteoarthritis of the knee. The US National Institutes of Health and the UK’s World Health Organization have both endorsed the use of Acupuncture for Osteoarthritis of the knee.

Acupuncture, like any medical treatment, needs to be administered by a highly and properly trained Acupuncturist. Most states require Acupuncturists to be licensed and the FDA requires all needles to be new and sterile. If using an Acupuncturist, do your research and avoid shams and poorly trained Acupuncturists that put you at risk for harm.

By: Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D

Reference

  • Vickers, AJ; Cronin, AM; Maschino, AC (2012). Acupuncture for Chronic Pain Individual Patient Data Meta-analysis”. Arch Intern Med: 1. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3654.
  • Zhang, W; Moskowitz, RW; Nuki, G; Abramson, S; Altman, RD; Arden, N; Bierma-Zeinstra, S; Brandt, KD et al. (2008). “OARSI recommendations for the management of hip and knee osteoarthritis, Part II: OARSI evidence-based, expert consensus guidelines” (PDF). Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 16 (2): 137–162. doi:10.1016/j.joca.2007.12.013. PMID 18279766
  • Beck, M. (2010) Decoding an Ancient Therapy: High-Tech Tools Show How Acupuncture Works in Treating Arthrisits, Back Pain, Other Ills. The Wall Street Journal, Health Journal.
  • Berman, B. M., Lao, L., Langenberg, P., Lee, W.L., Giopin, A.M.K., & Hochberg, M.C. (2004). Effectiveness of Acupuncture as Adjunctive Therapy in Ostearrthritis of the Knee: A Randomized, Control Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 141 (12): 901-910.

Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D. is a freelance writer with a doctorate in psychology. Her personal essays and parenting articles have appeared in various newspapers and magazines. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four girls, one of whom has extensive special needs. She can be found writing about her adventures in parenting at her blog, Lost In Holland.


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Reflexology: A Chain Reaction for Treating Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disorder that attacks the joints and connective tissues involved with joint movement. Essentially, Osteoarthritis can be considered an imbalance in the joint system with very specific chemical discrepancies. This, however, is exactly why a therapy like reflexology is the perfect answer to treating Osteoarthritis.

Reflexology utilizes the idea of balance and energy to help promote self-healing. With a condition such as Osteoarthritis, this theory can assist in building a care plan that relies less on medicine and more on mind, matter, and flow. For example, a reflexologist may use specific reflex and pressure points in the feet to stimulate energy flow from the top of the body to the bottom of the toes. This specific flow will encourage more circulation of blood and help a patient relax.

Relaxation is also a key component to treating Osteoarthritis. Using reflex points that stimulate relaxation such as points in the hand and feet can help to relieve overall tension in the muscles that connect to joints. This will alleviate or eliminate pressure that is put on joint connections and subsequently help to decrease pain and fatigue to the muscles surrounding them.

The biological reaction to reflexology varies from person to person, however for most it does have a tendency to promote energy and reduce fatigue. This increase in energy can help a person remain in motion, thus increasing flexibility and range of motion. It will also decrease stiffness and pain associated with it.

Reflexology can create a chain reaction that can promote self-healing and restore balance in a person’s body that suffers from Osteoarthritis. Encouraging energy flow and relaxation can be vital for quality of life and movement. Over time, it may become possible to decrease medication in lieu of a treatment plan that utilizes reflexology to establish natural balance.

Reference

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Using Vitamin B12 to Fight Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, a degenerative form of arthritis that attacks the joints, is a source of pain and stiffness for many sufferers. There are many therapeutic options to help treat some of the symptoms, many of which are derived from nutritional sources. Recent research, however, has shown that foods rich in vitamin B12 have shown significant reduction in pain, tenderness, and overall stiffness in joints. In fact, those that incorporated the appropriate amounts of vitamin B12 into their diets showed significantly less dependence on pain medications over a 2 month period. Here are some quality food sources that are rich in vitamin B12.

  • Swiss cheese – This mild-flavored deli classic is a surprising super food for Osteoarthritis. Not only is it an incredible source of calcium and vitamin D, but it also boasts about 16% of the daily recommended value of vitamin B12.
  • Eggs – Loaded with protein and full of riboflavin, folate, and vitamin D, one egg can give a person 9% of the daily recommended value of vitamin B12.
  • Salmon – Its meaty texture and subtle flavor make salmon easy to eat and versatile in any kitchen. With over 300% of the daily recommended value of vitamin B12, Salmon should be a go-to food for anyone that suffers from osteoarthritis.
  • Whole Milk – Also being a great source of calcium and vitamin D, whole milk also adds a whopping 18% of the daily recommended value of vitamin B12.
  • Beef Chuck – Quality beef chuck can pack an incredible punch of vitamin B12. Choose lean cuts that are trimmed well and it can add over 103% of the daily recommended value of vitamin B12.

Osteoarthritis is a difficult and constant battle for those that suffer from it, but there are nutritional changes that can help. Adding foods that add vitamin B12 in the appropriate amounts have shown to greatly reduce the discomfort associated with the condition. Simple additions like whole milk, eggs, and salmon offer a drug-free solution to the pain and stiffness that go hand in hand with osteoarthritis.

Reference

  • bembu.com/vitamin-b12-foods

Natural Treatment for Osteoarthritis