Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be able to move well all of the way through life, whilst others struggle with degeneration and pain often for over 50% of there life? The key difference in these groups is the health of their joints. Unfortunately our society has set up a reactive view on health, whereby most people only work on their body once a problem or pain arises. In this sick care model, by the time a symptom appears degenerative processes have/are already taking place, this is especially true in the case of our joints.
Degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) is one of the most debilitating conditions a person can have, often robbing them of years of quality life. With Winter finally arriving, this is the time of year that arthritic joints will let you know that they are there. The colder temperatures will lead to more stiffness and discomfort as well as taking longer to get going in the morning.
So let’s take a look at some simple proactive strategies that will help you avoid joint degeneration so you can live a long and happy life.
Movement is the biggest influence on the health of your joints and there are a couple of reasons for this.
- Firstly, your joints are designed to move and when you do so it helps bring nutrition into the joint. In fact studies have shown that when a joint is artificially immobilised, degenerative process begin after only 2 weeks. If you have you ever had your arm or leg in a plaster cast or brace for an extended period of time, you would have experienced this yourself when it came to move your joints again- STIFF!! In the case of synovial joints (most common joint in your body) movement helps with synovial fluid production and also the transfer of nutrients into the joint and waste products out of the joint.
- Secondly we need to move our joints through their full range of motion each day, otherwise abnormal tension patterns develop throughout the body. When we get tension developing in the soft tissues around a joint (muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia etc), this increases the compressive load through the joint, which will lead to degeneration/arthritis.
Take Home– You need to move all of your joints regularly and have good flexibility.
- GLUCOSAMINE & CHONDROITIN & GREEN LIPPED MUSSEL
Glucosamine is a dietary supplement used to improve joint nutrition and subsequently the prevention and management of degenerative joint disease (a.k.a. osteoarthritis). It achieves this through assisting in the production of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), which are the building blocks of cartilage- the joint’s shock absorbing tissue.
Whilst some people say that the jury is still out, the evidence is building regarding glucosamine’s utility. An important consideration here is the time that it takes to have an impact, 2 years is not an unreasonable expectation when looking for evidence of cartilage repair. Some of the factors that will influence how long it will take to have an effect are:
-If the tissue is quite unhealthy and there is osteoarthritic change then it has generally taken a while to get to that stage. At this point, chondrocytes (cartilage producing cells) are already performing badly, and they are fewer in number
-Cartilage by design, is avascular (no direct blood supply), which means the cell get their nutrition in a much slower passive manner, thus reducing healing potential.
With the above issues in mind, the manufacturers of these supplements have implemented a number of enhancements to try and improve outcomes. With the vast amount of advertising suggesting improved uptake or repair, or cell function, or decrease swelling or limiting further inflammation etc. it can get quite confusing. Below are some of the more common additives and what their purpose for inclusion is:
Gelatin – improves the function of the chondrocyte and possibly has some analgesic (pain killing effect)
MSM – methylsulfonylmethane stabilizes the cell membrane of the chondrocyte and has anti-oxidant components and anti-inflammatory components
Silica – improves the structural integrity of the joint through formation and maintenance of bone and cartilage.
Boron – improves bone formation, improves cartilage integrity by improving the extracellular matrix, and has a role in decreasing inflammation.
Chondroitin sulphate – part of the GAG structure, best used in the salt form that is a sulphate, for better uptake.
The one important thing to remember- it must have glucosamine in it, and when it is in the sulphate form (compared with hydrochloride form) it appears to have better uptake by the body.
It needs to 1500mg per day, so you need to do the maths with each product, some will be cheaper but don’t last as long, some will be short in their dosage. There are cheaper versions so take time to read the dosage and the price and work out the true value.
SUGGESTED PRODUCT– Arthrex by Metagenics, available at MY Chiropractic
- VITAMIN D
A lot has been made about the important role that vitamin D plays in regulating your immunity, mood and hormonal balance however it is often overlooked when discussing the health of our musculoskeletal system. Low levels can increase our risk of developing conditions such as osteoarthrits and it is said that supplementation can enhance the health of our bones, muscles and may prevent cartilage loss thus maintaining our joint health.
Dietary Sources : Oily Fish : salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, tuna, egg yolks, organic butter, portabello mushrooms, cod liver oil.
SUGGESTED PRODUCT– Metagenics Vitamin D3 liquid available at MY Chiropractic
- OMEGA 3’s
By now many of you would have heard that Omega 3s rich in Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) promote the reduction of inflammation in our bodies. EFAs are found in every cell of our bodies, therefore ensuring we get enough supports healthy cartilage and healthy mobile joints.
Dietary Sources : Oily Fish : salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna ect and cod liver oil, linseeds, flaxseeds, nuts and seeds, avocado, chia.
SUGGESTED PRODUCT– Metagenics Meta Pure EPA/DHA available at MY Chiropractic
- ANTIOXIDANTS – VITAMINS A, C, E
These vitamins are rich antioxidants that support the normal development of cartilage. They have been shown to play a role in reducing the progression of joint degeneration through reducing inflammation and damage, whilst at the same time promoting cell regeneration.
Dietary Sources :
Vitamin A : carrots, sweet potato, eggs, apricots, butter. Vitamin C : berries, kiwi fruit, broccoli, parsley, rosehip tea.
Vitamin E : almonds, eggs, sunflower seeds, wheat germ.
- CALCIUM, BORON, COPPER, ZINC
These minerals assist in the formation of collagen and the development and maintenance of healthy bones and joints. Therefore, a deficiency of these minerals can result in weakened tissue and possibly lead to Osteoarthritis.
Dietary Sources : Boron : almonds, apples, drinking water, hazelnuts, legumes, pears, prunes(organic). Calcium : Almonds, broccoli, sesame seeds / tahini, buckwheat, egg yolk, green leafy veg, sardines. Copper : Almonds, avocado, beans broccoli, buckwheat, legumes, mushrooms, pecans, prunes, sunflower seeds. Zinc : Beef, capsicum, egg yolk, lamb, oysters, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
Need some help with the supplements you are taking or need to take? Why don’t you book in with our naturopath Alyce today, you can do it here!
Lets not forget that food is medicine. A healthy, balanced diet rich in good fats, protein and lots of nutrient and antioxidant rich vegetables and fruits, will promote an anti-inflammatory and alkaline environment in your body- Happy days!! On the other side of that happy coin is the importance of reducing inflammatory foods from our diet. Foods such as sugar, coffee, refined carbohydrates and packaged foods that are often full of chemicals and preservatives (white foods – pasta, bread, cookies, white rice, gluten / wheat, dairy ect). Wouldn’t you rather be a lean, green, fighting machine than a red, slow, swollen big toe ?!
Some foods that are often used in the regulation of inflammation are tissue healing are ginger, chilli/cayenne & turmeric.
These spices primarily work to decrease inflammation and pain in our joints and improve circulation of nutrients around our bodies via the blood to areas that need it. They are also powerful antioxidants which help to protect our bodies from damage to our cells and tissues. Therefore at this time of year when the weather is getting cooler it’s a great time to include these spices in your daily cooking.
Fun Fact : the absorption of turmeric is greatly improved by adding black pepper!
Need some help to find the right balance? Book an appointment with our Whole food Dietitian Jenna, you can do it online here.
FOAM ROLLING & MASSAGE
Foam rolling is a simple, cost effective and time efficient way to work on your soft tissue structures (muscles, fascia, tendons etc) in the comfort of your own home. When done properly, spending time ‘rolling it out’ has many benefits which include muscle relaxation, enhanced blood flow, trigger point release, improved flexibility, core strengthening and faster recovery post exercise. Beyond the immediate benefits discussed above there are also longer term benefits to be obtained through maintaining good myofascial flexibility and tone. All of these benefits are also obtained through massage and other soft tissue therapies like cupping and needling. The advantages of this more ‘hands on’ approach is that it can be more specific and done by someone with experience in muscle work, just like Renee at our clinic.
Two of the main benefits of foam rolling and massage are:
-Improved energy efficiency which allows you to participate in more aspects of life with greater vitality; and
-Reduced pressure on joints and therefore prevention of degenerative arthritis. Obviously this also gives you the capacity to do more activity for longer and without having to work through pain.
Want to give it a try? Simply click here to be taken to our foam roller exercise chart or here to book in for a massage with Renee. Foam rollers can be purchased at MY Chiropractic too.
Last but not least is chiropractic. When it comes to minimising the amount of degeneration in your body it is absolutely imperative to ensure that your structure and function are optimum. A fundamental component of chiropractic practice is investing a lot of time in understanding the relationships between a person’s lifestyle habits and the output of their body. With a holistic perspective, chiropractic practice generally aims to work with an individual’s whole body, in order to bring it back to a normal state of structure and function. The relationship between your joints, nerves and muscles is significant, and there has been a lot of research published in the past few years outlining how chiropractic can have a positive impact on this. Some of this research even suggests that individuals can be without clinical symptoms (like pain) but still be impacted positively by a chiropractic adjustment to the spine.
Want to know if your body isn’t shaped or functioning correctly? You can book in with one of our excellent chiropractors here.
As you can see there is quite a lot that you can do to ensure that your life isn’t impacted too negatively by degenerative joint disease, an the best bit, it is all simple and cost effective to implement!
For further information you can call 84181445 to book in with our Chiropractors, Myotherapist, Dietitian or our Naturopath, who can discuss specific treatment options with you further. You can also book in online here.
PETER DYNES (Chiropractor) & ALYCE SERPELL (Naturopath)