Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. Some people call it degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. It occurs most frequently in the hands, hips, and knees.
With OA, the cartilage within a joint begins to break down and the underlying bone begins to change. These changes usually develop slowly and get worse over time. OA can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. In some cases it also causes reduced function and disability; some people are no longer able to do daily tasks or work.
In a healthy joint, a coating of tough but smooth and slippery tissue, called cartilage, covers the surface of the bones and helps the bones to move freely against each other. When a joint develops osteoarthritis, part of the cartilage thins and the surface becomes rougher. This means the joint doesn’t move as smoothly as it should.
When cartilage becomes worn or damaged, all the tissues within the joint become more active than normal as the body tries to repair the damage. The repair processes may change the structure of the joint, but will often allow the joint to work normally and without any pain and stiffness.
However, the repair processes don’t always work so well and changes to the joint structure can sometimes cause or contribute to symptoms such as pain, swelling or difficulty in moving the joint normally.For example:
- Extra bone may form at the edge of the joint. These bony growths are called osteophytes and can sometimes restrict movement or rub against other tissues. In some joints, especially the finger joints, these may be visible as firm, knobbly swellings.
- The lining of the joint capsule (called the synovium) may thicken and produce more fluid than normal, causing the joint to swell.
- Tissues that surround the joint and help to support it may stretch so that after a time the joint becomes less stable.
Osteoarthritis depends on a number of factors:
Osteoarthritis usually starts from the late 40s onwards. This may be due to bodily changes that come with ageing, such as weakening muscles, weight gain, and the body becoming less able to heal itself effectively.
For most joints, osteoarthritis is more common and more severe in women.
Being overweight is an important factor in causing osteoarthritis, especially in weight-bearing joints such as the knee and the hip.
A major injury or operation on a joint may lead to osteoarthritis in that joint later in life. Normal activity and exercise don’t cause osteoarthritis, but very hard, repetitive activity or physically demanding jobs can increase your risk.
If you were born with abnormalities or developed them in childhood, it can lead to earlier and more severe osteoarthritis than usual.
The genes we inherit can affect the likelihood of getting osteoarthritis at the hand, knee or hip. Some very rare forms of osteoarthritis are linked to mutations of single genes that affect a protein called collagen. This can cause osteoarthritis to develop in many joints at an earlier age than usual.
- Pain or aching
- Decreased range of motion (or flexibility)
- Symptoms review, Physical examination
- X ray
- Lab tests- Joint fluid analysis
How Diet helps OA
How and what you eat may affect the development of osteoarthritis.
Scientists say that when inflammation occurs, the body produces molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals form in the body in response to toxins and natural processes, including inflammation.
When too many free radicals build up, oxidative stress results. Oxidative stress can contribute to cell and tissue damage throughout the body.
This includes damage to the synovium and cartilage, which play a role in cushioning the knee joint. Oxidative stress can also trigger further inflammation.
Antioxidants are molecules that can help protect the body from free radicals. They’re present in the body, and you can also obtain them from plant-based foods.
Diet tips for OA
Foods to eat
Various nutrients may help boost joint health and reduce inflammation.The following foods may help delay the onset or progression of osteoarthritis:
- Fruits and vegetables, which provide antioxidants
- Low-fat dairy foods which contain calcium and vitamin D
- Healthy oils, such as extra virgin olive oil.
Foods to avoid
Some foods can increase the risk of oxidative stress.Foods that may have this effect include:
Highly processed foods
- Foods that contain added sugar
- Unhealthy fats, such as trans fats and saturated fats
- Red meats
Eating these foods could increase levels of inflammation.
Herbal remedies for Osteoarthritis
1. Green tea- It contains polyphenols which may help lower inflammation
2. Turmeric – Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric. It’s part of the ginger family but may help osteoarthritis in different ways like reducing pain and slow down the disease progression
Avoid certain foods that can aggravate osteoarthritis symptoms by increasing body inflammation. These foods include:
- aspartame, an artificial sweetener
- saturated and trans fat
- omega-6 fatty acids
- refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, or rice
- foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG)