Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), is the most common form of arthritis. It affects more than 30 million Americans, an increase from 21 million U.S. adults in 1990, according to 2017 data from the Arthritis Foundation. In addition to painkilling drugs, many sufferers are discovering safer natural symptom relief.
OA is also called wear-and-tear arthritis, old person’s arthritis, or degenerative arthritis. It is not, however, limited to the elderly. Anyone who injures or overuses their joints, including athletes, military personnel and people who work physically-demanding jobs, are susceptible to developing the disease they age.
Excess weight has also been researched as a precursor to developing osteoarthritis, especially weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips..
OA is a chronic condition that can affect any joint, but occurs most often in knees, hips, lower back and neck, small joints of fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe.
Currently, there is no cure for osteoarthritis.
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. Official estimates indicate about 54 million adults and almost 300,000 children have a type of doctor-diagnosed arthritis. A recent study says as many as 91 million Americans may really have arthritis – when you add together those who are medically diagnosed plus those who report obvious symptoms but haven’t been diagnosed.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the second-leading type of arthritis but, by contrast, affects less than two million Americans. It affects other parts of the body besides the joints. It begins at a younger age than osteoarthritis, causes swelling and redness in joints, and may make people feel sick, tired, and (uncommonly) feverish
Besides aging, factors which may increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis include injury to joints, repetitive overuse of a joint, stressing joints through sports/heavy lifting, being overweight, and family history.
In healthy joints, cartilage covers the end of each bone. Cartilage is a slippery tissue that provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint motion and acts as a cushion between bones in joints. It also absorbs shock from the energy of movement.
In osteoarthritis, the cartilage breaks down, causing pain, swelling and problems moving the joint. As the disease worsens over time, the joint may lose its normal shape. When bones break down they may develop growths called spurs. Bits of both bone and cartilage may chip off and float around in the joint. This can cause inflammation and further damage the cartilage.
In the final stages of osteoarthritis, the cartilage wears away and bone rubs against bone, leading to joint damage and more pain. Sometimes, corrective surgery can relieve some of the symptoms, but when it's beyond repair, the only option for treatment becomes joint replacement.
Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time.
Common osteoarthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go, and can be mild, moderate or severe. They may stay about the same for years but may progress or get worse over time. Pain is the body's warning system. It should not be ignored.
Severe OA can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk, kneel, climb or descend stairs, or get in and out of a car.
The Mayo Clinic lists signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis to include:
Too many Americans ignore their symptoms, or try to manage pain through self care treatments, not all of which may be in their best interest.
If you suspect osteoarthritis or any other arthritis type, first consult your medical doctor or a rheumatologist, who specializes in diagnosing and treating arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.
Most osteoarthritis treatment goals are centered around four points tailored to the patient’s needs, lifestyle and health:
Most treatment plans often include ways to manage pain and improve function. This list includes:
My husband and I both have osteoarthritis. His was in both knees from sports injuries when younger, mine was in my neck caused by a 1991 lateral whiplash injury that developed into arthritis. We both were initially treated by medical doctors with acetaminophen (Tylenol), then aspirin, later non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) including ibuprofen and finally, naproxen.
I discovered that I could not handle the nausea and other common side effects from these drugs. They were ineffective, anyway, which was part of the reason the doctor gradually introduced a succession of OTC drugs. None were successful.
This unfavorable experience led me to trying complementary alternative natural means, which at first unsuccessfully included chiropractors, magnets, and even accupuncture therapy.
In doing research, I was struck by the comparative safety of natural products for treating osteoarthritis,
many of which use herbal ingredients that have been effective for centuries. When herbs are not tainted or contaminated, they are remarkably safe from stomach bleeding, nausea, kidney, liver or heart risks.
I began using dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, and herbal products) but had a hard time finding products and brands that I could trust. Often I could not find a trusted brand. The industry is rife with repeated examples of tainted supplements for sale on the market.
To find the one company in which I could place absolute trust, I devised a list of 30 “standards of excellence” questions, based primarily on science, purity, safety and clinical studies for efficacy.
The answers led me to the #1 natural nutrition company in the U.S. Their products are sensational. I could really tell a difference when using them and the manufacturer is different from any other company.. Then in 2003 they introduced a trio of pain-related products that have since proven to be life-savers for treating our arthritis symptoms. See Recommended Supplements for Arthritis Pain Relief below (last paragraph)
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) GAIT study published in February, 2006 revealed that 65.7% of patients with moderate to severe osteoarthritis knee pain experienced pain relief taking glucosamine hydrochloride a natural supplement. The result was nearly as effective as the 69.4% who experienced pain relief taking Cox-2 selective inhibitor Celebrex (celecoxib), which has come under fire by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for side effects.
COX-2 selective inhibitors are the prescription drugs used to treat the pain and inflammation of most arthritis types. Of these, Celebrex is the only NSAID currently on the market in the United States and its safety has now been questioned. Celebrex was originally approved by the FDA on December 31, 1998.
All over-the-counter pain relievers for arthritis treatment should be taken with care to avoid serious problems that can occur with misuse. Presently, those drugs contain aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Certain factors can increase the risk of liver toxicity from drug formulations containing acetaminophen (Tylenol, Exedrin) and the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding from the use of NSAID’s.
Consumers should also know that there is a potential for gastrointestinal bleeding with the use of aspirin (Bayer, St. Joseph’s) and other NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin) and naproxen (Aleve). There are generic versions available for all of these products as well.
The risk for bleeding is low for those who take these products intermittently. For those who take the products on a daily or regular basis, the risk is increased.
My question to you: how much are you taking? Are you taking NSAIDs frequently and in higher doses than the warning label allows to get rid of pain or discomfort?
Pain Management 101: One reminder: drug treatments tackle joint pain not only at the expense of causing side effects, like stomach bleeding, stomach pain and nausea; they also may affect the enzymes associated with metabolism.
On the contrary, natural supplements can strengthen cartilage and improve joint health and protect the metabolism while reducing pain with minimal or no side effects whatsoever.
Unlike synthetic drugs, natural supplements consist of plant (botanical) and herbal extract formulations that are readily assimilated by the human body as nutrients. Many have been used successfully worldwide for centuries for their therapeutic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Use the list below to find dietary supplements, herbs, and other substances that might be helpful for symptoms of arthritis and related conditions (they’re tagged in order of importance):
The natural supplement industry is not strictly regulated by the FDA. Doctors may be reluctant to recommend specific natural products because of their proliferation on the market and overall lack of scientific studies and questionable efficacy.
The current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) final rules adopted by the FDA in 2007, do not regulate the efficacy of dietary supplements. Supplements can legally be marketed without having the power to produce the effect for which it’s marketed.
The cGMPs regulate the dietary supplement industry by requiring manufacturers to test raw materials for purity but even these regulations have not been in compliance industry-wide. FDA facilities inspections between 2010-2016 found nearly two-thirds of supplement companies in non-compliance for purity, safety (testing), label inaccuracies, and the "spiking" of some products with hidden drugs.
Clinical studies are not required by the FDA and almost all dietary supplement companies don’t bother, as testing is costly. It’s a well known fact that most of the dietary supplement manufacturers are unwilling to pay for research and clinical trials because they have a lower profit margin than drugs.
The FDA has estimated that 15,000 domestic and foreign companies make supplements sold in the U.S.
Essentially, there are five questions to ask before deciding to try a dietary supplement for osteoarthritis:
The recommended company has designed a natural osteoarthritis pain relief program that also helps with chronic or temporary pain and other types of arthritis. More and more people today are choosing safer alternatives to treat joint pain due to arthritis and these products ease symptoms and help people lead a more comfortable life.
The following bold paragraph-heading links for the supplements listed below will take you without obligation to the manufacturer's product pages for prices and additional information on each: The unbolden links lead to separate ingredient pages on this website for background information.
Clinical studies indicate that glucosamine hydrochloride is most effective when arthritis symptoms are moderate to severe. Glucosamine has the ability to rebuild cartilage for joint health and comfortable movement. Formulated with the addition of clinically proven boswellia extract, this product provides faster relief in as little as one week as it lubricates and cushions joints to provide enhanced mobility and range of motion.
When the boswellia herb and oil from the safflower are used in combination, it creates a potent, natural arthritis pain relief supplement without gastrointestinal side effects. In studies, these two ingredients together are more effective when combined, that they are separately. Boswellia extract< is a very potent 5 Lox inhibitor. The safflower extract contains a potent ingredient that is a very selective Cox 2 inhibitor. Therefore, this product is effective against both the 5 Lox and Cox 2 pain pathways--both of the major pathways--which is the only product on the market of its kind. Its formulation and synergy is so unique that there's a patentbon this supplement.
This topical menthol analgesic provides temporary relief (up to four hours) for minor pain associated with backache, arthritis, bruises and sprains. It offers fast absorption and deep penetration to soothe aching joints and muscles on contact. In addition to menthol, it contains a proprietary blend of natural ingredients that targets the source of discomfort and provides quick relief by improving blood circulation in the affected area.
This fish oil supplement provides a full spectrum of seven ultrapure omega-3 fatty acids, naturally found in cold water fish (tuna, mackerel, halibut, cod, salmon). High in DHA and EPA, it supports joint function due to its anti-inflammatory properties and is easy to digest with low odor and no aftertaste. It also helps to maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) from borage seed oil is used as an anti-inflammatory. GLA helps our bodies form prostaglandins - potent hormone-like substances that help regulate many bodily processes. When combined with Vitamin E and sunflower seed oil, the formula helps maintain cellular integrity.
As a natural alternative, valerian root side effects are few, and minor by comparison to pharmaceutical drugs. In fact for an insomnia remedy it has good tolerability. Most studies suggest that it’s more effective when used continuously rather than as a one-night sleep aid. However many individuals successfully use it on a need-only basis. An advantage of valerian over drugs is the lack of sleepiness on awakening when used at recommended dosages. This supplement also contains a complementary blend of two additional herbs, chamomile and passion flower. Together, they provide a calm state and promotes restful sleep.
Included above are three products designed in 2003 as a balanced pain relief program that’s so good my husband and I are now completely free of pharmaceutical drugs of any kind. Our osteoarthritis symptoms, including pain, are controlled.
It’s for these reasons that I highly recommend this company’s trio of natural joint pain products for safe and natural osteoarthritis treatment.
Disclaimer: To answer the question what is rheumatoid arthritis health statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.