Arthritis, also generally known as osteoarthritis, is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by the diminished synthesis of specialized proteins called proteoglycans. This is significant since these proteins form the core of cartilage, the material that acts as a shock absorber in the joints by releasing water to form a protective barrier. However, in the absence of this activity, fluids build up in the cartilage, leading to inflammation and the gradual formation of osteophytes in the joints. These calcium deposits interfere with movement and produce pain, even when the joint isn’t being used. While there is no cure for arthritis, there are several methods of obtaining arthritis pain relief.
From a nutritional standpoint, there are several supplements that may help to reduce inflammation and promote pain relief. For instance, methionine, an amino acid and byproduct of adenosine triphosphate and methionine, is a precursor to cysteine, which is another component of protein. Also known as SAM-e, methionine inhibits the activity of cartilage destroying enzymes, while stimulating an increased production of proteoglycans. In short, this means that this nutrient may help to prevent damage to cartilage from occurring or progressing.
Fish oil provides omega-3 essential fatty acids, namely eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These agents have been extensively studied for their ability to provide considerable relief by reducing the production and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. In fact, many patients report increased mobility as well.
Other complementary therapies documented to help achieve arthritis pain relief include massage, acupuncture, and Shiatsu, also known as acupressure. These therapies appear to improve symptoms by decreasing the production of stress hormones, such as cortisol. In addition, they help to stimulate an increase of pain-relieving neurotransmitters, such as endorphins.
The conventional approach to relieving the pain involves the use of medications, which can be categorized into three types. The most commonly recommended are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as aspirin. However, NSAIDS are also available in prescription strength. Other medications include disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which are most frequently prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis, a more serious form of this disease. Finally, corticosteroid drugs may be given to bring immediate relief by very quickly reducing inflammation.
A professional health care practitioner should evaluate the best course of therapy to pursue based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. In addition, some patients respond best to a combination of therapies. It is also important to discuss the risks and side effects of specific medications since DMARDs, for instance, involve suppressing the immune system.