I have joint pain, what will help?
- It's estimated that 1.9 million Australians have osteoporosis
- One in five Australians suffer from some type of arthritis
- Magnesium, zinc and Vitamin D are also important in joint care
Joint pain can be due to a range of causes from injury to infection, so if you have joint pain, make sure you are properly diagnosed by a doctor or specialist before embarking upon any kind of treatment.
However, the most common cause of joint pain is arthritis, a term to describe pain, stiffness and inflammation in one or more joints. In fact, there are over 150 forms of arthritis with the most common being osteoarthritis, which develops when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones degenerates. It commonly occurs in the knees, hips and ankles. Symptoms include painful joints that often feel worse with exercise or repeated use, swelling of the affected joint and stiffness and weak muscles around the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis, and develops when the immune system attacks the tissues lining the joints causing inflammation, pain, heat and swelling. Symptoms include a feeling of ill-health, pain and swelling in the affected joints, stiffness and restricted movement. It commonly affects the joints of the hands and feet and – unlike any other form of arthritis – tends to attack the same joints on both sides of the body.
Another common cause of joint problems is osteoporosis, which is not a form of arthritis, but a musculoskeletal disorder. Osteoporosis means "porous bones" and is a disease in which bone density and structural quality deteriorate, leading to an increased risk of fracture.
People are often unaware that they have osteoporosis because there are no symptoms other than frequent fractures in the elderly. Engaging in regular weight-bearing exercise and making sure you have enough calcium throughout your life is the best prevention.
Medical advice is essential if you are experiencing joint pain, but many people find that the supplements below can be beneficial.
All-round health, maintaining high bone density, helping to prevent osteoporosis later in life.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body and over 99% of it is stored in the bones and teeth. Bone mass deteriorates as we age, so it's important to have an adequate amount of calcium throughout your life. Many people in Western society don't take in enough calcium through their normal diet. In these cases, long term use of a calcium supplement may help combat osteoporosis in later life – the emphasis, however, is on long term. A study last year from the University of Western Australia, the Western Australian Institute of Medical Research and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital found that, calcium supplements cannot prevent fractures in the elderly, but if they are used long term by women: "Calcium supplementation is a safe and effective therapy for reducing the risk of osteoporitic fracture."
Glucosamine / Chondroitin
Combating the effects of arthritis including osteoarthritis.
A component of larger molecules found in the body called glycosaminoglycans, which are involved in forming and repairing cartilage, glucosamine has been used to treat arthritis for over 20 years. In fact, according to Choice magazine, 16 controlled trials have shown it is safe and effective in the short term to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis and that it can, in some cases, help reverse progression of the disease. An American National Institutes of Health trial also showed combined use of Glucosamine and Chondroitin provided pain relief from osteoarthritis – reflecting similar results in over 50 published clinical trials.
Reducing joint stiffness caused by arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis
Due to its powerful anti-inflammatory action, Omega 3s – including fish oil – have been shown to ease the stiffness and swelling caused by arthritis. Researchers at the University of Newcastle discovered rheumatoid arthritis sufferers found their joint stiffness improved considerably after taking fish oil over a 15-week period. Rheumatoid arthritis pain is believed to be partly caused by an overactivity of inflammatory agents from arachidonic acid. Fish oil helps block this process, which may explain its effectiveness in treating symptoms.