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Posts Tagged ‘osteoarthritis’

OA and Vitamin K

March 7, 2013

The vitamin K in these vegetables can reduce the risk and progression of osteoarthritis.

Vitamin K, commonly found in leafy green vegetables, may reduce your risk of osteoarthritis.  A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that vitamin K deficiency was positively associated with knee osteoarthritis.  These results validate long-held cultural beliefs that vegetables are good for your health, and quantify one specific way in which they may improve your quality of life.  This study simply identifies a correlation between vitamin K deficiency and osteoarthritis, but that does not mean that adding vitamin K to your diet cannot improve your health now.

In fact, an independent study by the Boston University School of Medicine found that patients who recieved Vitamin K exhibited decreased osteoarthritic symptoms.  Adding vitamin K reduces knee pain, and decreases the rate of joint degeneration.  It may even be possible that it will accelerate healing.

So before you take medication and before you risk surgery, why not try a simple dietary solution?  Adding these vegetables could make your pain more manageable.

 



The diathesis stress model was originally introduced as a way of explaining why some people developed mental disorders and others did not.  Mental disorders could not be fully explained by genes or by experience, and so the diathesis stress model effectively described the contributions of both components.  Essentially, the diathesis stress model states that some combination of environmental and genetic can lead to pathology.  If the environmental stress (the oil in the glass) is added to the genetic vulnerability (the water in the glass) and it reaches a threshold, then the individual will develop the pathology.

This model can easily be applied to osteoarthritis.  Each person has a specific genetic make-up that can affect their vulnerability to osteoarthritis; they might have dense bones, weak cartilage, or a predisposition for obesity.

What is important here, is to understand the relationship between a genetic predisposition and environmental stress.  Since genetic code cannot be altered, the only thing within our power is to minimize the risk factors we develop.  If we act to stay light, fit, active, and healthy, onset of osteoarthritis may be delayed or even avoided entirely.



Cartilage reduces friction in the knee during normal motion.

 

Osteoarthritis is caused by damage and inflammation of the bony aspects of the joint surface.  Cartilage is a joint’s first line of defense.  It is not surprising then to learn that people with healthy cartilage have less osteoarthritis, and that unhealthy cartilage makes osteoarthritis worse.  It is important to protect and maintain cartilage in order to avoid severe osteaorthritis.

In order to preserve your cartilage, you must understand how it recieves its nutrients.  Unlike bone, which recieves its nourishment from its blood supply, cartilage is very poorly vascularized.  Instead of getting nutrients from the blood stream, cartilage collects nutrients from the synovial fluid.  This is crucial, because it means that increasing motion can push nutrients out of the synovium and into the cartilage.

While it is undisputed that exercise can reduce osteoarthritis, it has been considered to be a mixed blessing; it was thought that losing weight would help osteoarthritis, but exercise might damage joints in the process.  This is not the case!  Exercise encourages healthy cartilage, which protects and insulates the joint surfaces.  So exercise with no reservations.  Athletic activity will improve your osteoarthritis.



OA and knee surgery

December 2, 2012

Knee surgery is highly traumatic, and can lead to osteoarthritis later in life.

One common risk factor for knee osteoarthritis is a history of severe knee injury.  The connection between injury and osteoarthritis is often associated with direct damage to the cartilage or bones of the knee.  This is not the only way that osteoarthritis can develop after injury.  Any trauma to the knee can lead to inflammation, which increases pressure in the joint space and lead to osteoarthritis.  Severe trauma often has secondary effects like inactivity and obesity, which are well-documented risk factors.

There is extensive evidence suggesting that injury to a ligament (like the ACL) can lead to osteoarthritis.  Only recently, however, have we begun to understand the connection between osteoarthritis and ACL reconstruction surgery.  Research at the University of Queensland examining the long term health of patients with ACL reconstruction surgeries found that, not only were they more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis, but they were also far more likely to need knee joint replacements.  In fact, people who underwent knee surgery developed osteaorthritis up to 15 years earlier than those who had not.

So remember that surgery is not a miracle cure.  It is a controlled application of extreme trauma.  It certainly has applications in which it can provide life-changing help, but it is not a blanket solution for all.  So before undergoing elective surgery, check all of your options, and try a non-invasive treatment first.



OA and risk factors

November 21, 2012

Risk factors for osteoarthritis.

 

A risk factor is a description of a characteristic of a group that is prone to a particular disease or disorder.  Having one or more risk factors does not guarantee the presence of the disease, and their absence does not ensure good health.  The identification of risk factors is important because it can identify traits or groups of individuals that are at elevated risk, and so require more frequent and more thorough examination.

Women and the elderly are at higher risk of developing osteoarthritis.  Other well known risk factors include poor diet, inactivity, prior joint injury, and a family history of osteoarthritis. Recent research by a Harvard Medical School professor, Dr. Losina, suggests that ethnicity may also be related to osteoarthritis risk.  Dr. Losina found that female minorities were at higher risk for osteoarthritis than caucasian females.  Further, female minorities with osteoarthritis were more likely to need joint replacement surgery.

These are not absolutes.  Many individuals with all risk factors never develop osteoarthritis.  There are many risk factors that are beyond your control, like age, ethnicity, family history, and gender.  But if you are at elevated risk of developing osteoarthritis because of poor nutrition or lack of exercise, it’s time to change your habits.  It might even save you from surgery.



Osteoarthritis of the knee often leads to knee pain.  Long-term inactivity can make the osteoarthritis and your quality of life much worse.  This means that short rests can increase knee pain.  In fact, sitting for a brief time can lead to joint stiffness.  That makes it harder to move your knee, and makes motion painful.

In most cases, joint stiffness is due to inflammation of the synovium (the fluid which helps to lubricate your knee).  More severe joint stiffness can be caused by shortening of tendons and ligaments in the knee, but this is often over longer periods of inactivity.  If the synovium is inflamed, the pain is intense at first, but decreases as the joint is used.  This means that avoiding activities because of joint stiffness you can limit your overall function.  However, while increasing activity should reduce stiffness, too much exercise can make the osteoarthritis worse.

Overall, persistent activity is the best way to reduce joint stiffness.  Avoiding painful activities can lead to shortening of tendons and ligaments.  This would make future activities much more difficult.

The best take away is:  Use it or lose it.

 



OA and Inactivity

September 29, 2012

Osteoarthritis of the knee can be painful.  It can cause pain in many different activities of daily living.  This does not mean that it should be debilitating.

A recent article in the Cape Gazette addresses the “ceiling” effect.  The “ceiling” effect is where individuals suffering from osteoarthritis limit themselves to the activities that are comfortable.  While this may make things easier in the short term, it can be bad in the long term for several reasons:

1:  Avoiding painful activities can mean missing out on life.  As osteoarthritis progresses, the number of painful activities increases and the you will be increasingly limited.

2:  When you prevent yourself from exercising, you lead an inactive lifestyle.  Inactivity can lead to obesity, which makes the osteoarthritis worse.

3:  Inactivity can stiffen joints, reducing range of motion.  This further increases the pain and discomfort with motion, leading to more restricted activities.

So instead of avoiding knee pain, consider your options for pain management.  There are many types of physical therapy, bracing, medications, and even surgeries that can help you return to your desired activities.  Don’t let osteoarthritis keep you on the couch.



Walking

August 5, 2012

Mall walkers

When suffering from knee pain caused by osteoarthritis simple tasks like walking can be agonizing. However, walking is a great low impact exercise which can be done almost anywhere. Walking allows the knee to move through a normal range of motion with low impact on joints. Walking is easy to do, requires only your time and effort and can also help you lose weight.

It is important to walk on an even surface such as a track or treadmill. However, if you’re looking for a heated or air conditioned, flat surface, without a gym membership a shopping mall might be a perfect solution.  Malls provide stable walking conditions, heat or air conditioning and even a little window shopping. You can increase your distance or time as your knee grows stronger and more accustomed to your routine.

 



Pilates

July 12, 2012

Chair Pilates

Pilates can be a great tool for managing osteoarthritis knee pain. Pilates can increase flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance. By including Pilates as part of your arthritis treatment you can lose weight while improving your overall sense of well-being. Studies have shown people with arthritis who perform Pilates had a better range of motion and less stiffness than people who did not include Pilates in their exercise routines.

Pilates can be a great benefit to arthritis suffers because it can strengthen the muscles supporting the knee joint. When combining Pilates with aerobic exercises you can establish a workout routine to lose weight and strengthen knee muscles while reducing knee pain.



Cane Use

June 15, 2012

Canes should be used to help with balance, increase a person’s base of support, and lessen the load placed on the knees, legs, and feet. However if a cane is going to help achieve these goals it must be used properly.  To walk with a cane on level surfaces a person should:

1.  Hold the cane in the hand on your “good” side, so it give stability to the “bad” side.

2.  Move the cane forward at the same time as you move the side that needs help.

3.  Always have the “good”side take the first step.

Canes can help a person with osteoarthritis walk a little farther.