Diet and Exercise to Manage OA
Diet & Weight
Supporting your joint health with basics such as diet and physical exercise improves the treatment options for patients with OA beyond traditional rehabilitation, medications, and surgical strategies .
Diet plays a role between the anabolic and catabolic processes which occur in our bodies. Specifically looking at the joints, the blood vessels carry nutrients to the, muscles, tendons, chondrocytes and the synovial membrane, therefore the poor diet means poorer delivery of nutrients. This can potentially reduce the effectiveness of any other treatment you may be going through .
Diet plays a big role in osteoarthritis, studies have found associations with not only excess weight impacting on joint’s wear and tear but also a relationship between total fat and saturated fatty acids intake with increased progression of osteoarthritis .
In a similar situation, by consuming MUFA (mono-unsaturated fatty acids) and PUFA (poly-unsaturated fatty acids) progression of osteoarthritis can potentially be slowed down .
The inflammatory characteristics of patients diet is very important and incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet has shown to improve joint function, and keep destructive inflammation levels to a minimum, therefore improving long term wear and tear of the joint .
Best-practice guidelines for osteoarthritis emphasize self-management including weight control and exercise. Unfortunately this has not been a primary factor in our health education system . Patients are encouraged to combine a healthy, low inflammatory diet with any other intervention they are performing for their osteoarthritis. Advice about low inflammatory foods can be obtained via the internet but it is best to get a tailored program from a nutritionist.
Turmeric is a plant of the ginger family and curcumin is a chemical compound of turmeric. Curcumin has demonstrated management of by controlling the release of inflammatory cytokines. It can work as a general low grade anti-inflammatory and also by controlling the inflammation levels it has exhibited some benefits to slow down OA progression .
Olive Oil & Fish Oil
Much like the turmeric, oil supplements can have anti-inflammatory properties. One double blinded, randomized clinical trial has demonstrated the topical application of olive oil improved pain and physical function in patients affected by knee osteoarthritis .
Fish oil presents similar characteristics in comparison to olive oil, publications have identified a decrease in inflammatory destruction of cartilage tissue .
Methionine is an essential amino acid for humans. Some researchers have found methionine promotes anabolic processes (rebuilding) of cartilage . Some studies have shown patients who have received methionine supplements had a greater benefit in the long term compared to treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) .
Type II Collagen
Type II collagen is a nutritional supplement derived from chicken sternum cartilage. Literature shows patients with osteoarthritis that are using this supplement have increased the mobility and the functionality of the joints with some reduction in pain levels .
Glucosamine is a product that occurs naturally in the fluid around the joints. Studies have presented the value of glucosamine in rebuilding cartilage. Research results are have shown glucosamine to be effective in management of arthritis.
Conclusion of Supplement use
Supplementations can be an ongoing strategy for managing and preventing osteoarthritis as a complement to traditional clinical treatment. Nutritional balances with diet can regulate the balance between anabolic (rebuilding) and catabolic (destructive) processes in joint tissue. This can result in improved function, reduced pain and increased longevity of joint wear .
However, there is criticism regarding the quality and validity of the majority of these studies that have been focusing on supplements. At this stage, the majority of the publications/ trials which have also been conducted are by the manufacturing companies . This has caused a concern of sponsorship bias. Many of these studies also have a low number of participants, short-term of follow up and non-defined dosing .
They appear to be a low cost and high safety method of treating osteoarthritis (as long as it is controlled by a nutritionist). They may be worth-while in including to the patients list of interventions to try.
Physiotherapy, Exercise & Hydrotherapy
Physical therapy managed and supervised by a professional has shown to alleviate chronic pain 20–30% more effectively than no treatment . Physiotherapy including traditional physical activity can be more cost-effective in alleviating chronic pain as compared to using analgesic medications .
Pain appears to be the greatest barrier to patients engaging in and sticking to physical activity programs including professional physiotherapy. Unfortunately some individuals prefer short term pain relief of analgesic medications as a replacement to physiotherapy. This has led to poor joint support and function in the long term. The benefits of exercise in the management of osteoarthritis are well established and they need to be engaged in as a pre-dominant joint support for osteoarthritis .
It is important for people suffering from osteoarthritis to continue physiotherapy with the support of professional as opposed to self-managed exercises. It is easy for individuals to develop poor techniques and fall into bad training habits. These habits can cause further damage.
If the individual finds physiotherapy is too “forceful” hydrotherapy is a great option. The buoyancy of the water helps reduce the load your joints are under. This can help patients develop their muscles and tendons in a manner that is less stressful.
Read about more treatment options for osteoarthritis on this page.
All references can be found in our list of references page here.