Can you prevent Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and joint pain?

Arthritis; If you've ever spent much time with an elderly person, you've heard about the associated aches and pains of the disease. Or perhaps you suffer from the disease already, and you know full well how uncomfortable it can be. It affects a good percentage of the population, so you're not alone, regardless of what age you are.

But is it something you have to live with? Now? In your golden years? Ever? The answer is no, of course, but you have to know what to do to prevent it, slow it, and even possibly eradicate it - and the cure doesn't come in a prescription bottle.

Before we get into things you can do - right now - to help prevent or alleviate the symptoms, let's take a quick look at what it really is.

What is it?

Arthritis is a complex and widespread disease. The two most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage between two bones begins to wear down, causing stress between the two bones. This stress produces inflammation and occasionally bone spurs. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system actually begins attacking the cartilage and synovial linings in the joints between bones.

In both of these forms of arthritis, inflammation is always present, which makes the situation even more painful than before.

What Are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of arthritis don't vary much between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. In osteoarthritis, you can expect to experience prolonged intermittent pain in one or more joints, stiffness after inactivity, a grinding feeling when using a particular joint (which occurs more often in advanced stages of osteoarthritis), and/or swelling and pain in a joint.

In rheumatoid arthritis, the most common initial symptom is swelling, tenderness, and pain in one or more joints, followed by pain and stiffness after inactivity, fatigue, and prolonged symptoms that don't seem to abate.

Who's at Risk?

The answer to this question is, namely, everyone. But there are certain factors that can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These risk factors include:

Age. As you near the age of 65, your chances of developing osteoarthritis improve exponentially.

Obesity. Because of the increased weight strain on joints, those who suffer from obesity have a greater chance of developing osteoarthritis.

Female gender. After the age of 65, women have a much higher risk of developing osteoporosis

• Overuse. If you play repetitive sports, have a job that requires repetitive motion throughout the day, or are engaged in any activity that, over time, consistently uses one or more joints on a regular basis, your chances of developing OA increase.

• Rheumatoid arthritis. If you've been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis - an autoimmune disease - you have a greater chance of suffering from osteoarthritis as you age.

The usual prescribed treatments

The most commonly prescribed treatment for arthritis is drugs called NSAIDs (non-steroidal antiinflammatories) and/or aspirin. These drugs serve as antiinflammatories and mild pain-killers, but they also have severe side effects if taken over a long period of time - effects like stomach ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and liver dysfunction.

Recently, doctors began prescribing different medications in lieu of NSAIDs called COX-2 inhibitors. These don't upset the stomach like the traditional NSAIDs and aspirin do, but they have their own list of potential dangerous side effects, like bowel perforation and other intestinal problems.

Both of these types of drugs do well at staving off inflammation and killing pain, but they only mask the symptoms. In fact, one could say that there's been a failure of prescription medication for arthritis. Why? Because they don't treat the problem - and that problem is oxidative stress.

There's only one way to effectively quell oxidative stress, and that's through proper nutritional supplementation with antioxidants and vitamins. However, because of the traditional doctor's bias against nutritional supplements, you'll hear less about them from your physician and more about the latest prescription medication.

What Can I Do to Treat My Arthritis Naturally?

The first step in helping to prevent or reverse arthritis is proper cellular nutrition. You want to fill your body with good antioxidants, so the free radicals roaming around in your system are neutralized and flushed out of your body before they can do more harm.

In the past, good cellular nutrition meant eating the right fruits and veggies every day, but things are more complicated now. Because of the degradation of our food supply, it's harder to get the good antioxidants you need straight from the grocery store. Of course, eating a healthy balanced diet full of fruits and veggies is still a good start, but you need to make sure you're properly supplementing your diet with antioxidants and minerals.

Nutritional Supplements for Arthritis

If you're currently experiencing these problems, or want to prevent ever developing associated symptoms, here are some important ingredients you should look for in quality nutritional supplements or individual supplementation:

Biovflavonoids - these are antioxidants often found in colorful fruits and veggies, but are important in a nutritional supplement, as well.

Fish oil - you've probably heard a lot about fish oil recently, and for good reason. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are incredible defenses against oxidative stress.

• Grape-seed extract - potentially one of the most effective antioxidants available, grape seed extract has been found to help neutralize free radicals for up to three days after taking it.

Vitamin C - we've all heard how important vitamin C is in your diet, but are you getting enough of it? Some natural health practitioners recommend up to 2000 mg of vitamin C daily.

Vitamin E - another important antioxidant to help prevent the cause of the disease.

Calcium - calcium is the most important factor when slowing the progression of osteoporosis. You should take supplements of 800 mg to 1500 mg daily, with a good level of vitamin D to help absorption.

Glucosamine sulfate - Inherently important in cartilage synthesis, glucosamine should be supplemented at levels of 1500-2000 mg per day to help rebuild cartilage and prevent pain.