There are currently around ten million people suffering from some form of arthritis in the UK – and if you are a sufferer, the winter months may be associated with an increase in pain directly linked with the condition. So in this week’s article we are going to look at two of the more common forms of arthritis; osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and how to support both during the winter months.
Types of Arthritis
There are around 200 types of arthritis, or musculoskeletal conditions which can be split into three categories:
- Inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and gout
- Non-inflammatory arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, scoliosis and torn ligaments (the term non-inflammatory here is a misnomer as these conditions do also include inflammation)
- Connective tissue disease, such as lupus, sclerosis and Sjogren’s syndrome
In this week’s article we are going to concentrate on two of the most common types of arthritis; Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
The joints of the body are protected by cartilage, which covers the ends of the bones and provides a strong and protective layer. In those suffering from osteoarthritis, the cartilage loses its protection, becoming thin and pitted, leading to a total loss of cartilage surrounding the joints in some scenarios. The pain results from the constant friction of bone on bone due to the loss of cartilage.
The NHS gives the following summary of Osteoarthritis:
“Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes the joints to become painful and stiff. It is the most common type of arthritis in the UK.
The severity of osteoarthritis symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, and between different affected joints. For some people, the symptoms may be mild and may come and go, whereas others can experience more continuous and severe problems.
Almost any joint can be affected by osteoarthritis, but the condition most often causes problems in the knees, hips, and small joints of the hands.
The pain and stiffness in the joints can make carrying out everyday activities difficult for some people with the condition.”
Despite there being a widespread incidence of osteoarthritis, the exact causes and cures remain relatively unclear. Due to the condition affecting many older people, it is considered by many that it may simply be a normal part of ageing – however reaching this conclusion then begs the question; “Why doesn’t everyone develop arthritis?”
The following factors are associated with the onset of osteoarthritis:
- Hormonal changes post menopause
- Excess weight, due to increased stress being placed onto the joints
- Repetitive work or exercise
- Injury or orthopaedic surgery in earlier life
- Hereditary factors
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto-immune condition where the joints affected vary between patients: the hands, feet, knees and shoulders are those more commonly related to this form of arthritis.
The main symptoms are pain, stiffness and loss of strength in the inflamed joints, with feeling generally fatigued and unwell. It is a condition that occurs in all ages however it is more common in those aged between 30 and 50 years.
Whilst osteoarthritis develops most frequently as a result of damage in the joint, rheumatoid arthritis involves the immune system. Stress, infections, viruses or hormonal changes are thought to be ‘triggers’.
Chilled to the bone?
Recent theories have suggested that sufferers experience more pain with arthritis in the winter months when the weather is a lot colder.
Medical News Today commented on the following research regarding this:
“One study looked for a relationship between weather and arthritis pain in 151 people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia (a rheumatic disorder that causes joint pain) as well as 32 people without arthritis. All participants lived in Cordoba City, Argentina, which has a warm climate. Participants kept a journal for one year recording the presence and features of any pain, and these daily reports were matched with weather conditions such as temperature, barometric pressure, and relative humidity.
Patients in all three groups experienced more pain on days when the temperature was low, while people in the control group were unaffected by any of the weather conditions. In addition, patients with rheumatoid arthritis were affected by high humidity and high pressure; osteoarthritis patients by high humidity; and those with fibromyalgia by high pressure”
Another study from Tufts University also found that certain changes in temperature or barometric pressure (referring to the weight of the surrounding air) make joint pain worse, however the researchers are not entirely sure of the exact science as to why this is the case. They reported that for every 10-degree drop there was an increase in arthritis pain and the same also applied to an increase in barometric pressure.
This could be an example of hormesis and antagonistic pleiotropy. Cold weather is a signal from nature (hormesis) for beings to increase metabolic rate to maintain circulation to the vital organs. This carries with it an increase in tissue remodelling which is an inflammatory process. This process is helpful in animals in the wild but not necessary in humans with their central heating and modern day living (hence antagonistic pleiotropy).
So bearing this in mind, with the winter months firmly upon us, your joint pain may be feeling slightly worse – so is there a way to reduce the inflammation?
Preventing the onset of Arthritis
Like many chronic diseases, research is frequently suggesting that the key to preventing the onset of certain diseases is to reduce inflammation, and in the case of arthritis this is no different. We know that in the presence of osteoarthritis the destruction of the cartilage in the joint will create inflammation and the overall destruction of the joint. The same can be said for Rheumatoid arthritis where disease progression leads to inflammation and similarly the destruction of the affected joint.
Diet to support osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis
Much has been written recently on the link between Leaky Gut (read our recent blog on ‘Leaky Gut’ via the link) and the development of inflammatory conditions, including arthritis.
A number of factors can trigger or contribute to the development of a leaky gut (also known as increased intestinal permeability) including certain foods, toxins, stress and undesirable bacteria. If the gut has become leaky the triggers need to be removed and the gut repaired using the 4R protocol – Remove, Replace, Reinoculate and Repair. So a 4R gut protocol would be appropriate for these conditions along with an anti-inflammatory diet.
An anti-inflammatory diet is high in vegetables (6-8 portions per day) and healthy fats (eg avocado, oily fish, olive oil) and low in sugars. Avoid peanuts and red meat which are both high in the inflammatory fatty acid arachidonic acid. Eliminating gluten (and even all grains) and dairy is also recommended.
Specific foods that can help reduce inflammation include ginger, turmeric, green tea and rosemary.
Specific nutrients that are important for gut health and that are used as part of gut repair programmes include vitamins A, D, Live Bacteria, Curcumin (from turmeric) and L-glutamine.
Anti-inflammatory support for Joints
As we get older the enzyme functions in our body slow down and in the case of joints and tissues it means damage or wear takes longer to repair. As such many people take supplements such as Glucosamine, Fish Oils and Celadrin® as part of an anti-inflammatory support or preventative programme.
Glucosamine: If you are looking for a Glucosamine supplement to offer assistance in the regeneration and maintenance of cartilage and tissue we would recommend Glucosamine Hydrochloride (Glucosamine HCL). Glucosamine Hydrochloride (the chloride form of N-acetyl Glucosamine) is the newest and purest form of glucosamine, and the form now preferred by the medical profession for long-term use.
Fish Oil: Over the years, the anti inflammatory benefits of fish oil have received a lot of attention. Research has suggested that in patients with rheumatoid arthritis taking fish oil significantly decreased tender joints and morning stiffness.
Celadrin: Celadrin® is a unique, natural and patented combination of fatty acids which work in a similar way to the ‘essential fatty acids’ in fish oils to provide support during the inflammatory process. Inflammation is most commonly the cause of joint pain, swelling and mobility issues. Modifying ‘inflammatory mediators’ is a key protective factor for joints – thereby reducing the destructive tendencies of inflammation to bone and cartilage and helping to maintain healthy flexible joints.
For those with chronic inflammation the benefits of Celadrin® have been subject to many positive research studies. Trials also demonstrate improvements in the motion and function of affected joints including knees, elbows, wrists and hands. Research indicates that Celadrin®:
- Inhibits inflammation in endothelial cells
- Is supportive to the lubrication of affected joints
- Inhibits arachidonic acid one of the main promoters of the inflammatory cascade of immune factors
- Provides added protection to the reduction of cartilage breakdown in joints
Celadrin® is available in a capsule or cream form with the capsule form generally best suited for long-term joint inflammation support. For the cream a small scale trial has shown Celadrin® may assist symptoms for those with psoriasis of the skin by reducing skin inflammation and providing an emollient effect at the site of psoriasis.
One of the most important aspects of arthritis to note is that it is not a disease of inevitability. As mentioned in this article, it is commonly referred to as being a side effect of ageing – but this does not need to be the case. Even in the presence of arthritis, through the correct therapeutic care and maintaining a healthy diet and good lifestyle, you can significantly reduce pain and maintain a good quality of life.
If you have any questions regarding the health topics that have been raised, or any other health matters please do contact me (Amanda) by phone or email at any time.
firstname.lastname@example.org, 01684 310099
Amanda Williams and the Cytoplan Editorial Team: Joseph Forsyth, Simon Holdcroft and Clare Daley
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