Osteoarthritis is simply a process where the protective cartilage that covers the ends of the bones wears away, exposing the bone which can also be damaged. Apart from a very few people who have a genetic predisposition, this is an almost totally preventable disease.
• Protect the joints during exercise – stretch and warm up before exercise, wear good shoes which cushion the foot reducing jarring. Do not play through pain, don’t allow steroids or NSAIDs to be injected into the joints which enable people to exercise on damaged surfaces. Steroids also weaken the cartilage and bone.
• Regular walking keeps the joints supple and can result in better function.
• Avoid being overweight; it puts excess wear, tear and strain on the spine, hips and knee joints.
• Green tea has a number of compounds which block an enzyme which can damage cartilage, and may be beneficial for people at risk of developing arthritis.
• Vitamin C is essential for making the collagen fiber that holds joints together.
• Good multivitamins and multiminerals will make sure the bones and cartilage have an adequate supply of nutrients for optimal repair.
• Glucosamine is a glyconutrient which is essential in the formation of cartilage. Trials have shown that it does protect joints from damage and can repair the cartilage. A review of 15 studies involving 1,775 patients concluded that glucosamine statistically reduced pain and improved function. Often glucosamine is given with chondroitin, but there is little data that chondroitin with or without the glucosamine adds any benefit. For people at risk of osteoarthritis, especially sports people, taking regular glucosamine seems a wise choice.
• Omega 3 fish oils keep the tissues supple and may also help lubricate the joints.