As we age it is not uncommon to suffer from joint pain. By the age of 30 most people experience at least one chronic or recurring form of joint pain, usually in the lower back, neck, knees, or hands. By an individuals 50th birthday, joint pain can be more painful, and can present its self more often and for longer periods of time than when we were younger.
Nearly 40 million persons in the United States are affected by arthritis, including over a quarter million children.
Approximately 2.1 million Americans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. And more than 21 million Americans have osteoarthritis.
Among adults 60 years of age or older the prevalence of symptomatic knee OA is approximately 10% in men and 13% in women.
The most common of joint pain is osteoarthritis (OA), which is a degenerative disease that causes pain in your joints as a result of articular cartilage thinning. Where as rheumatoid arthritis can affect other parts of the body besides the joints. It can begins at a younger age than osteoarthritis, and can cause swelling and redness in joints.
It can be easy to blame joint pain on a lifetime of activity. We may have the belief that with every movement our limbs make, we are literally wearing the cartilage in our joints away.
Plenty of older people who've been active all their lives never develop OA or any form of arthritis the professor also notes.
This misguided view can lead to individuals avoiding exercise, as they think that exercise is bad for our joints or actually wears our joints out.
It is important to note that movement and exercise plays an important role in keeping our joints healthy. Our joints need to move to stay healthy and in good shape.
Cartilage is living tissue that has no arteries to deliver blood to it, and therefore relies on movement of the joints to create a pumping action that circulates fluid containing oxygen and nutrients.
Due to the lack of blood vessels, cartilage grows and repairs more slowly than other tissues in the body.
Cartilage is found in many areas of the body including:
- Joints between bones - such as the elbows, knees and ankles
- Ends of the ribs
- Between the vertebrae in the spine
- Ears and nose
- Bronchial tubes or airways
Now that we have an idea of what cartilage is, what can we do to prevent joint pain or reduce it? We already noted one good prevention and that would be movement. What are some other preventative measures?
How To Prevent Joint Pain
As we noted, cartilage relies on movement of the joints to circulate fluid to it that contains oxygen and nutrients, which include needed vitamins and minerals to keep the cartilage healthy.
Which nutrients do we need to be aware so as to get enough in our diet to keep our joints and cartilage healthy?
Our joints need (and there recommend daily allowance):
- Glucosamine - 1,500 mg
- Chondroitin - 800-1200 mg
- Methylsulfonylmethane or MSM - 1,000-1,500 mg
- Manganese - 5 mg
- Lysyl Oxidase - made in cells of the body
- Copper - 2.5 mg
- Selenium - 55 mcg
- Vitamin-D - 800 IU or higher
- Omega-3 Fish Oil - 500 mg
Both glucosamine and chondroitin are naturally occurring compounds found throughout the body, including in the fluids surrounding the joints. MSM is an organic source of sulfur that the body uses to maintain normal connective tissues.
Glucosamine helps rebuild the bones and prevents cartilage wear and tear. It also prevents inflammation of the joints and adjoining muscles.
Manganese is an essential trace mineral that helps form and maintain strong bones, joints and connective tissue. A deficiency of this mineral can cause malformation of bones, including loss of of bone and cartilage.
Lysyl oxidase is an enzyme which helps combine collagen and elastin to make connective tissue. The right combination of the two guarantees that our connective tissues, such as cartilage, are kept strong, springy, and able to absorb shock and handle movements. If your body doesn't get enough lysyl oxidase, then your cartilage will be prone to wear and snapping.
Copper deficiency is the leading cause of lysyl oxidase deficiency, as lysyl oxidase is copper dependent.
Many arthritis sufferers live with a chronic selenium deficiency. Selenium helps prevent free radical damage and inflammation, providing much needed relief from swelling and pain of the joints.
Vitamin-D's main purpose is to increase the amount of calcium in the body and thus increase the amount of calcium that goes into bones. The vitamin boosts the intestine's ability to absorb calcium from digested food. In addition, vitamin-D improves the kidneys' capacity to recycle calcium that might otherwise pass from the blood stream into the urine.
Omega-3 fatty acids help support joint health. And have shown to decrease symptoms of morning stiffness, tender or swollen joints, and joint pain. The fatty acids can also help increase blood flow. The two types of fatty acids found in fish oil are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). EPA and DHA can reduce inflammation, one of the principle causes of swelling and pain of the joints.
The body doesn't produce fatty acids, so medical researchers recommend consuming 500 milligrams daily of EPA plus DHA.