The word "arthritis" means "joint inflammation." Inflammation is a body natural reaction to disease or injury, and includes swelling, pain, and stiffness. Inflammation that lasts for a very long time or is recurrent, as in arthritis, can lead to tissue damage. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. The more common types are:
This is the most common type of arthritis. It often develops in people who are over 50 years of age. It can also occur at any age as a result of an injury or another joint-related condition. It develops in joints that are injured by repeated overuse from performing a particular task, playing a favorite sport or carrying around excess body weight for example. It initially affects the cartilage covering the end of the bones. Eventually this injury or repeated impact gradually erodes the cartilage. Without the protection of this cartilage, the bones begin to rub against each other and the resulting friction leads to pain and swelling. The joints that are most commonly affected are those in the hands, spine, knees and hips.
It often starts when a person is between 40 and 50 years old. The immune system mistakenly attacks itself and causes the joint lining to swell. The inflammation then spreads to the surrounding tissues, and can eventually damage cartilage and bone. In more severe cases, it can affect other areas of the body, such as the skin, eyes, lungs, and nerves.
It is caused by an elevated uric acid level in the bloodstream. This excess uric acid forms needle-like crystals in the joints that cause intense inflammation and pain. It most often affects the big toe, knee, and wrist joints.
What causes arthritis?
The causes of arthritis depend on the form of arthritis. Causes include injury (leading to osteoarthritis), metabolic abnormalities, the effect of infections, and a misdirected immune system with autoimmunity (such as in rheumatoid arthritis).
The risk factors that increase the chance of developing arthriris include family history (your genes can make you more susceptible to environmental factors triggering arthritis), age (the risk increases with age), gender (women are 3 times more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while most of the people who have gout, are men), previous joint injury (people who have injured a joint are more likely to eventually develop arthritis in that joint), obesity (being overweight puts extra stress on weight-bearing joints, particularly knees, hips and spine) and work factors (some jobs that require repetitive movements or heavy lifting can stress the joints and lead to arthritis).
Symptoms & Health complications
The symptoms of arthritis will vary depending on its type. Osteoarthritis does not generally cause any symptoms outside the joint. Symptoms of other types of arthritis may include fatigue, fever, a rash, and the signs of joint inflammation, including: joint pain, tenderness and stiffness, inflammation in and around the joints, restricted movement of the joints, red skin over the affected joint, weakness and muscle wasting. Severe arthritis, particularly if it affects your hands or arms, can make it difficult for you to do daily tasks. Arthritis of weight-bearing joints can keep you from walking comfortably or sitting up straight. In some cases, joints may become twisted and deformed.
Osteoarthritis is typically diagnosed with a description of your symptoms and a physical exam. Imaging techniques are used to show the condition of the joints. If other types of arthritis are suspected, tests on blood, urine and joint fluid may be conducted.
Prevention & Treatment
It is not possible to prevent arthritis, but healthy lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of developing the disease, slowing and preventing permanent joint damage. The goals of the following lifestyle changes are to provide pain relief, to control inflammation, and to increase joint mobility and strength:
• Maintaining a healthy weight. Excess weight puts strain on joints. Losing weight will reduce the stress on the weight-bearing joints. This may increase mobility and limit future joint injury.
• Exercising. Keeping the muscles strong can help protect, support and keep the joints flexible. Swimming and water aerobics are good choices because the buoyancy of the water reduces stress on weight-bearing joints.
• Using joint-protecting techniques at work. Proper lifting and posture can help protect the muscles and joints.
• Eating a healthy diet. A well balanced, nutritious diet can help strengthen bones and muscles.
• Heat and cold. Heating pads or ice packs may help relieve arthritis pain.
• Using assistive devices. Using canes, walkers, raised toilet seats and other assistive devices can help protect the joints and improve the ability to perform daily tasks.
• Acupuncture. This therapy may help reduce the pain caused by some types of arthritis.
• Yoga or tai chi. The slow, stretching movements associated with yoga and tai chi may help improve joint flexibility and a range of motion in people with some types of arthritis.
• Massage. Light stroking and kneading of muscles may increase blood flow and warm affected joints, temporarily relieving pain.
Arthritis with herbs
Mangosteen contains natural chemical compounds called xanthones, which have been widely studied for their numerous health benefits.
Studies have shown that gamma-mangostin, one of these xanthones, function like a COX-2 inhibitor without triggering any harmful side effects. It dramatically slows down the production of the Cyclooxygenase (COX-2) enzyme, responsible for the formation of prostaglandins, which triggers inflammation, causing tissue swelling and pain. These xanthones are one of the most effective anti-oxidants found in nature (20-30 times better than any other fruit or vegetable) and gamma-mangostin is a more potent anti-inflammatory agent than several anti-inflammatory medications currently prescribed for arthritis and gout.
Moreover, mangosteen is rich in energy and offers the needed energy to complete the physical rehabilitation workout regime introduced to strengthen joint stability. It may even aid in the management of anxiety and pain.
Curcumin is a natural extract from the root of the Turmeric plant. In Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, Turmeric has been used as an anti-inflammatory for the treatment of digestive and liver problems, skin diseases, and wounds.
Several clinical trials have demonstrated these anti-inflammatory properties by showing that Curcumin triggers the inhibition of cyclooxygenases (COX), the body’s main enzyme responsible for the production of pain and inflammation in muscle and other tissues.
Curcumin also prevents the body from producing an antibody called tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a key regulator of the inflammatory response. Because this reduction of inflammation leads to pain relief, curcumin is effective in relieving pain and improvements in morning stiffness, walking time, and joint swelling.
Moreover, because of his antioxydant properties, it helps enhance natural body detoxification process, slowing down cell death in joint tissue and thus helping preserve supple, youthful joints.