Arthritis affects 27 million adults in America, and the most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
One in two Americans will suffer from some form OA that typically starts affecting adults in their mid-forties. It is estimated that one in two Americans may also develop symptomatic knee OA in their lifetime.
OA occurs in the joints when cartilage that normally covers the ends of bones (to prevent them from rubbing) loses its elasticity. Brittle cartilage is more prone to damage and can wear away, and in response to this wear the ligaments, which stabilize the bones, are shortened or stretched and the joint becomes misshapen and inflamed.
The pain comes from the inflammation and becomes severe when the cartilage wears away to the point that the bones start to rub against one another.
OA most often occurs in the knee, hip, or hands and can cause joint weakness, full disability, and can interfere with all day-to-day activities so learning to manage the symptoms and maximize joint functioning is key.
Physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight are both important for prevention and treatment of OA symptoms.
Weight plays a significant role in the development of OA because extra weight puts greater pressure on the hip and knee joints. Maintaining a healthy weight helps prevent OA and losing excess pounds can help ease OA symptoms, and for some, drastically reduce pain.
Physical activity helps to maintain a healthy weight as well as lubricate the joints, thus easing friction from bone to bone contact. Physical exercise also helps build up the muscles surrounding the affected joint, offering additional strength and support.
The CDC and Arthritis Foundation both recommend routine physical exercise, including low impact, moderate intensity aerobic activity, as well as muscle strengthening, to reduce arthritic pain symptoms and maintain function.
Studies suggest that certain foods can help reduce pain and inflammation caused by arthritis.
Omega-3 fatty acids play a key role in anti-inflammation, particularly long chain fatty acids found in oily fish including sardines, mackerel, herring, salmon, and tuna.
Anti-inflammatory effects can also be found in other foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are good sources of antioxidants, and also help reduce inflammation.
Whole grains, seeds and nuts, are good choices as well.
So, spend some time in the kitchen preparing yourself a delightful plate of fruits and vegetables—your joints and your waistline will thank you for it.