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Arthritis 101: 3 Tips That Can Save Your Joints


iStock_000004442364Small Arthritis and inflammation of the joints causes some serious pain — and nearly 30 million Americans have to deal with it daily.

27 million of us deal with pain and stiffness from the wear-and-tear of osteoarthritis, where the cartilage that covers and cushions the ends of your bones becomes thin or disappears, and your bones rub together and hurt.

Another 2.5 million endure the red, hot, swollen and painful joints of rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to mistakenly identify your cartilage and bones as foreign invaders (like viruses) — and attack them.

Arthritis isn’t an “equal opportunity annoyer.” It picks on seniors (65% of people over 65 have osteoarthritis) and on women (7 out of 10 people with rheumatoid arthritis). With so many people afflicted in their lifetimes, you’d think modern medicine would offer some good, safe, effective solutions for arthritis pain. But think again.

The most common class of pain-relieving drugs — nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — hospitalizes more than 100,000 Americans a year from bleeding ulcers, and kills more than 16,500!

Adding joint insult to digestive injury, NSAIDs don’t slow the progression of arthritis — and may even speed it up!

The best advice? Take steps to optimize joint health, so you can minimize the chances of developing joint problems in the first place. And there are three easy ways to do just that.

Joint-Optimizing Tip #1: Feed Your Joints

There are several nutrients and natural compounds that are uniquely effective for promoting healthy joints.

Turmeric: A Joint Health Savior

At the center of the turmeric root is an antioxidant-rich compound called curcumin. Often deemed the healing “King of All Spices,” curcumin has been found to work wonders on inflammation. It can even help lessen the pain of rheumatoid arthritis by relieving joint tenderness and swelling caused by the disease.

What else can curcumin do for your health? Find out everything you need to know about this miraculous anti-inflammatory supplement in our article Benefits of Curcumin: Everything You Need to Know About the Healing “King of All Spices.

Glucosamine: Feeding Your Cartilage

Glucosamine is a component of cartilage. When you take a glucosamine-containing supplement, the compound is incorporated into your cartilage molecules, which helps repair joints and reduce the pain that can result from overuse. The standard dose is 1,500 milligrams, taken daily with or without food.

After 6 months, you may find that you don’t need to take the supplement daily; at that point, you may choose to take it only when your joints feel like they need help.

Chondroitin Sulfate: More Cartilage Support

This compound also helps create, maintain and repair cartilage. The standard dose is 400 mg three times daily, or 1,200 in a single dose.

MSM: Sulfur, a Surprisingly Important Nutrient

MSM is an abbreviation for methylsulfonylmethane, a sulfur-containing compound that gives your proteins a key building block needed for tissue repair. Studies show that MSM, chondroitin and glucosamine work well together. It is reasonable to take all 3 of these daily for the first 6 to 12 weeks after you begin the regimen. This will lay a solid nutritional foundation from which you can begin to maintain healthy joint function. After that, you can scale back to a lower dose, if you’d like.

For Nutritional Insurance, Take a Good General-Purpose Supplement

Dozens of other nutrients are also helpful to promoting healthy joint function — like B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, boron and zinc.

Joint-Optimizing Tip #2: Balance Immune Function

A balanced immune system will cut back on inflammation and prevent the over production of toxic molecules that can cause damage to joints. Curcumin and boswellia are two herbs that are particularly good at promoting a balanced and healthy immune system.

These can be found in a number of good herbal mixes or individually. Allow 6 weeks to see the full effect. You’ll be glad you did!

Another powerful immune regulator is fish oil. You can eat fatty fish like salmon, sardines, trout or mackerel a few times a week, or take a fish oil supplement.

Joint-Optimizing Tip #3: Use Them or Lose Them

If you want to maintain flexible, healthy joints, you need to use them the way nature intended. Namely, you need to MOVE them!

I suggest exercising at least 20 minutes daily. Go for a walk outdoors (also great for boosting levels of vitamin D, which supports healthy muscles and joints). Swim or exercise in a heated pool (the buoyancy and warmth make this an ideal exercise for joints that need a helping hand). Yoga, tai chi or any other form of stretching are also good.

Important: Pain is your body’s way of saying “Don’t do that!” So if you feel unusual pain while exercising, STOP and DON’T try to push through it.

Heat and Stretch

A great way to improve flexibility: use a heating pad or any other kind of moist heat for 5 to 15 minutes on an affected joint, then slowly and gently move the bothered joint, gradually reclaiming your full range of motion.

For joints in your hands, try the herbal-filled “bean bags” you can heat up in the microwave, putting them on your hands. After 5 to 15 minutes, gently stretch your fingers.

Dr. Teitelbaum, also known as “Dr. T,” is an integrative physician and one of the country’s foremost experts on fatigue, sleep and pain management. The treatment program he developed for combating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia and related conditions has helped hundreds of thousands of sufferers reclaim their health and vitality.

Dr. Teitelbaum is the Medical Director of the National Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers and author of the best-selling books, From Fatigued to Fantastic!, Beat Sugar Addiction Now! and Pain Free 1-2-3. He has also authored several landmark scientific studies. Dr. Teitelbaum has firsthand experience with CFS and Fibromyalgia — he battled the condition when he was in medical school and had to drop out for a year to recover. Since then, he has dedicated his career to developing effective strategies to treat these conditions and educating the millions of people who need help.

Visit his web site to learn more.

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