Alternative Therapies for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage, which is the buffer between the bones in the joints, breaks down and wears away, leaving the bones to rub together. This is a gradual process, over years, of the wear and tear from use. There are many medications available to help alleviate the pain and slow down the process. There is no cure for this and ultimately a joint replacement may be necessary.

There are also some alternative therapies that can be done at home. One of the major contributors of osteoarthritis of the knees and hips is being over-weight. If this is the case, than a weight reducing diet should be started with the advice of a medical professional. It can help control the symptoms and even slow the progression.

Cold and heat packs are another good way to help relieve the symptoms. Cold will numb the area and reduce the inflammation. Ice massages have shown to increase range of motion in the affected joint. Heat works by increasing the blood circulation and relaxing the muscles. These treatments work best after exercising or if on your feet all day. Hydrotherapy, which is soaking in a pool or spa, loosens the muscles and many find they are able to increase their range of motion without the pain.

Eating anti-inflammatory foods, is not only healthy, but can help reduce the swelling and inflammation, which is the major cause of the pain. Some such foods are:

  • Parsley
  • Garlic
  • Lemon

Nuts, seeds and fish, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, can also help decrease the swelling. The supplements of Glucosamine and chondroitin in combination, have shown to help repair torn or worn cartilage.

Proteins and Osteoarthritis

A naturally occurring protein, lubricin, is now being researched to fully understand its role and if it can be replicated for human use. It does appear that this protein’s function is to help protect against the aging process of the joints by preventing cartilage breakdown. Studies in mice, by injecting this protein directly into the joint, is promising.

Peptides and Osteoarthritis

Collagen is responsible for the strength and structure of cartilage. Studies have shown that after ingestion of a synthetic collagen peptide, it would rapidly accumulate in the cartilage and promote collagen synthesis. The study showed a beneficial effect on the joint pain and collagen synthesis, and a valuable alternative treatment for osteoarthritis.

Exercising helps keep the joints strong and flexible. There should be no pain when exercising. Muscle soreness is common when first starting a new program, but should last no more than a day. If it continues, easing up can help and then gradually increase. Weight training will help build and strengthen the muscles that support the joints.

Flexibility exercises, or range of motion, done on a daily basis, can help improve the stiffness that is often associated with osteoarthritis. This should also involve stretching activity, as this will also help to reduce the pain and increase muscle tone and joint flexibility.

Always consult a health care specialist before beginning any exercise program.

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