Contributed by: Healthians Team

What is osteoarthritis?

Arthritis is a generic term that describes swelling or inflammation of joints. Osteoarthritis, a common type of wear and tear arthritis, is a long-lasting or chronic joint condition that can affect any joint in your body but it mostly affects those joints that bear most of your weight such as hands, knees, feet, fingers, thumb, neck, large toe, hips, or spine. Osteoarthritis develops slowly and gets worsens over time.

In your strong joint, a layer of tough yet soft and slippery tissue, called cartilage, covers the exterior of the bones and supports the bones to move smoothly against each other. When osteoarthritis occurs in your joint, segments of the cartilage become weak and the exterior becomes rougher. This indicates that your joints cannot move as smoothly as they should. While cartilage is torn or destroyed, all the tissues present in the joint become extra productive than usual as the body attempts to fix the damage.

The improvement processes may alter the composition of the joint, however, it usually allows the joint to operate normally and without bearing any discomfort, inflexibility, or stiffness. Osteoarthritis generally develops as people get older although it can also develop in adults of any age. Sometimes, the repairing process does not succeed well and develops some changes in the composition of joints that may lead to symptoms such as pain, inflammation, or difficulty in moving the joints normally.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis

Symptoms of osteoarthritis occur slowly and get worse with time. The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis are discomfort or often stiffness in the affected joints. The pain becomes more critical at the end of the day or when you move your joints. Sometimes affected joints may become inflamed or swollen. The inflammation can be tough or lumpy caused by the excess growth of bone particularly in the finger joints. The other symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Joint deformity
  • Joint instability or buckling
  • Loss of joint function
  • Bone spurs
  • Grinding or crunching sensation in the joints
  • Swelling or inflammation of joints
  • loss of range of motion
  • joint stiffness
  • Joint creaking
  • joint aching or soreness with movements
  • Bony enlargement of the middle or end joints of the finger

What causes osteoarthritis?

Doctors and researchers are still trying to find out the exact reason behind osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs due to joint damage and this damage can become worse over time that is why age is one of the risk factors leading to osteoarthritis. Other risk factors that enhance the chances of osteoarthritis are:

  • Gender: Osteoarthritis is more common in women particularly after 50, although it can also occur at any age. 
  • Obesity: Being overweight can put pressure on your joints that may increase the risk of osteoarthritis
  • Heredity: Some individuals possess an inherited defect in one of the genes accountable for building cartilage. This creates defective cartilage, which leads to more rapid deterioration of joints.
  • Injury: Some injuries such as knee-related injuries may lead to osteoarthritis of the knee. 
  • Joint overuse: Overuse of some joints enhances the risk of acquiring osteoarthritis. For example, individuals in jobs requiring regular bending of the knee are at a higher chance of generating osteoarthritis of the knee.
  • Other diseases: Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, the next most popular kind of arthritis, are more prone to develop osteoarthritis.

How can osteoarthritis be cured or managed?

as per the Arthritis Foundation, the inclusion of a balanced and proper diet may improve the severity of signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis. This dietary change can assist in improving the effects of osteoarthritis by reducing inflammation, joint damage, cholesterol, and maintaining a healthy weight.  Proper diet foods possess anti-inflammatory abilities that can reduce osteoarthritis symptoms while consuming other foods can increase them. Adding food items with proper levels of nutrients in your diet can make your bones, muscles, and joints strong and healthy. 

Individuals with osteoarthritis may try combining the given seven foods to their food menu to reduce their signs and symptoms:

  • Oily fish: Individuals with osteoarthritis may plan to select at least one piece of oily fish every week. Oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon, or fresh tuna. Individuals who do not prefer oily fish in their diet can use supplements that comprise omega-3 rather, such as fish oil, krill oil, or flaxseed oil. Other supplements of omega-3 are chia seeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts. Such foods can also assist to combat inflammation.
  • Dairy: Certain dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are loaded with calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients enhance bones and joints strength that may also change severe and painful symptoms. Dairy also includes proteins that can assist to build strong muscles. Individuals who are intending to control their weight may try low-fat food items. 
  • Dark leafy greens: Dark leafy greens have plenty of Vitamin D and stress-fighting phytochemicals and antioxidants. Vitamin D is necessary for calcium digestion and may also strengthen the immune system as well as assisting the body to strive against infection. Dark leafy greens cover spinach, kale, chard, mustard greens, cabbage, beet greens, and collard greens. 
  • Broccoli: Broccoli has plenty of a compound called sulforaphane, which doctors and researchers think can block the inflammatory process and reduce the progress of osteoarthritis. This vegetable is loaded with bone-strengthening calcium, vitamins K, and vitamin C. 
  • Green tea: Green tea has plenty of polyphenols that are known as antioxidants. Experts and doctors believe that these antioxidants may be effective to lessen inflammation and diminish the degree of cartilage loss.  
  • Garlic: Scientists and experts believe that a compound called diallyl disulfide is present in garlic that may act against the enzymes in the body that hurt or destroy cartilage.
  • Nuts: Nuts are beneficial for your heart health and include plenty of calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, and fiber. They also include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which strengthens the immune system.

The bottom line

You can’t handle or control the risk factors such as heredity, age, or gender contributing to osteoarthritis although other risk factors can be managed and controlled effectively. Taking care of your body in case you are an athlete, controlling your body weight, keeping a healthy diet, and taking enough rest may help you to prevent other risk factors of osteoarthritis. On the other hand, if you have diabetes, maintaining and controlling your blood sugar may assist you to manage your risk of osteoarthritis.

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