Managing Arthritis With Diet and Exercise

"I'll jump out this window before I do any of those exercises today."

Yes, it's a fact that pain can drive you insane, affecting your mood, productivity and even how you express yourself. When you are in pain, the only thing that you are interested in is relief.

Many will automatically reach for pain medication. Yet, is it always necessary to do so? Are there any other solutions that might work just as well, or even better?

To answer this question in relation to arthritis, it might help to take a closer look at what arthritis is — and why it is such a painful condition.

A healthy joint consists of strong bones, each with a healthy complement of cartilage, to ease the friction between the ends of the bones when movement occurs. To further this aim, a sac containing synovial fluid also lubricates the joint for smooth function.

It's an elegant system. But overuse and nutritional imbalances can lead to a breakdown of the cartilages, leading to painful friction. This is when arthritis occurs.

A Closer Look at Arthritis

In general, there are two different kinds of joint pain which are classified as arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis — also known as degenerative joint disease — involves deterioration of the cartilage protecting the ends of the bones. It can be caused by injury, or through an inherited protein defect that causes improper formation of this cartilage. But this kind of arthritis is most commonly blamed on wear-and-tear of the joint through lifestyle, diet and aging.

Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disorder. This kind of arthritis develops because the immune system identifies the synovial membrane as foreign. Inflammation results, which damages the cartilage in and around the joint. Fever, fatigue, swelling, weight loss and crippling pain are some of the hallmark signs of rheumatoid arthritis. This type of arthritis also tends to develop all over the body, which makes it particularly difficult.

For either of these conditions, however, a change in lifestyle and diet might help.

Supplements: a Key to Fighting Arthritis?

The potential of supplements to help combat the pain and loss of function that accompanies arthritis is a matter of contention. When it comes to solid, research-proven benefits, the jury is still out. Yet, many swear by certain supplements for this condition. Here are just a few examples:

Bromelain is an enzyme that is thought to help to stimulate the production of prostaglandins, which reduce inflammation. This supplement is often taken between meals.

Essential fatty acids are another nutrient that may help generate prostaglandins, according to some studies. Essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 increase production and activity of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.

Glucosamine and SAMe are thought by some to be important in the formation of the tissues around the joint and fluids. Yet, many have argued against taking these supplements, maintaining that there is no proof that these substances are stored by the body where they are needed.

Yet, the best supplement of all to implement is proper food. Proper, nutritious food has yielded health effects that surpass any kind of supplement that you can take into your body.

Exercising for Pain Relief

You probably thought that you would get away without hearing about exercise when it comes to arthritis relief, right? Well, you're wrong!

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