Living with osteoarthritis, which can often affect the elderly, can be an incredibly painful experience, but scientists have revealed some of the most effective ways to relieve the symptoms.
According to researchers from the University of Surrey, just one gram of fish oil daily can help to reduce inflammation and therefore ease the pain. Similarly, vitamin k is good for osteoarthritis patients as it promotes bone and cartilage repair. It can be found in kale, spinach and parsley.
Of course, people who eat fish regularly do not need to take fish oil supplements, as they will get the same benefit naturally. The issue is that not all people like fish and taking the oil in a pill form is much more convenient for many sufferers.
The scientists analysed more than 60 studies into the subject, looking for ways to help the third of people over 45 years old in the UK who have osteoarthritis. As the cartilage at the ends of bones breaks down over time, it leaves patients in pain and unable to carry out many common tasks.
Some of the study authors Professor Ali Mobasheri said: “Lifestyle should also be considered when attempting to reduce the pain of osteoarthritis. Patients can’t expect miracles with dietary interventions if they are overweight and drink or smoke heavily.”
Losing weight is one way that obese osteoarthritis sufferers can cut the amount of strain being put on joints. Such changes can make a vast difference and mean less reliance on medication to make it through each day.
High levels of cholesterol are also associated with inflammation, as it accumulates in the cartilage. Osteoarthritis sufferers who are of a healthy weight will not find any benefits from controlling their calorie intake, however.
Adding more fibre is another of the tips that the scientists have discovered, as well as oats and nuts. These elements of a diet can help to bring down cholesterol and therefore benefit a patient in terms of reducing pain.
Another study author Professor Margaret Rayman said: “The importance of a good diet and regular exercise should never be underestimated. Not only does it keep us fit and healthy, but as we have learned from this study, it can also lessen painful symptoms of osteoarthritis.
“We are what we eat and it is important that we have the right amount of nutrients from our food to ensure that our body systems work as they should.”
As the treatment options for osteoarthritis are fairly limited, it’s worth looking towards lifestyle changes as a possible solution. The researchers’ report stated that “any risk-free means of reducing progression or relieving debilitating symptoms in such a large patient group should be given a try.”
In other research, released earlier this year, Dartmouth Hitchcock ranked five non-surgical treatments for osteoarthritis in the knee in order of effectiveness. Cortisone was found to provide the best short-term relief for the pain.
These were followed by ibuprofen, platelet-rich plasma injections, and finally, the non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs naproxen and celecoxib. Naproxen was found to be the best overall for minimising pain and enabling the joints to function as they should.