Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting about 21 million Americans. This degenerative disease causes limited range of motion in the affected joints and can affects the most basic of daily activities. In the worst cases, osteoarthritis results in debilitating pain.
Unlike other forms of arthritis, which are genetically linked, osteoarthritis affects people of every race, age and gender... athletes and couch potatoes alike. Despite the seemingly random nature of osteoarthritis, there are certain risk factors for developing the disease. Injury, aging and overweight all contribute to one's risk. Athletes, such as soccer and tennis players, are particularly susceptible to developing osteoarthritis due to the abnormal wear and tear on the weight bearing joints of their bodies.
Because of the progressive nature of osteoarthritis, continued use of the damaged joints causes the damage to worsen and pain to increase. Identifying osteoarthritis early can mean the difference between a lifetime of manageable or excruciating pain. Moreover, while it is possible to identify osteoarthritis early, it is impossible to cure the condition... this is why early detection and treatment are so vital.
In most cases, osteoarthritis develops over time and the pain is not constant. You may experience a stiff joint at first - particularly when rising from sleep or after prolonged periods of sitting. Perhaps your knee "gives out" when walking down stairs or crouching down. These could be signs of osteoarthritis.
The most important advice you may receive is to NOT ignore the pain and assume it will "just go away." If it is, indeed, osteoarthritis, the pain will not decrease with time. Taking action NOW is key to managing pain and keeping yourself healthy.
The first course of action many people take is over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications, called NSAIDs. These popular medications are advertised as cure-alls for whatever ails you, but they do not come without risks. From gastrointestinal upset to stroke, for some patients the treatment is worse than the disease! In fact, NSAIDs do nothing more than decrease inflammation temporarily. As the patient continues to use the medications, a larger dose is required to achieve a minimum level of relief.
There is another option for osteoarthritis suffers wanting immediate and lasting relief. With a lot of medical practitioners onboard now, more and more people are turning to natural supplementation that has proven itself effective over and over again - glucosamine and chondroitin.
To understand why glucosamine and chondroitin supplementation are so effective, it is important to understand what happens in a joint affected by osteoarthritis. Another name for osteoarthritis - wear-and-tear arthritis - gives some clue - the repeated use of a joint, "wear and tear," wears away the cartilage cushion in affected joints. The cartilage is worn away too quickly to be replenished and inflammation results as the bones make contact with each other.
Whereas NSAIDs provide only temporary relief by decreasing inflammation, supplementation with glucosamine and chondroitin gives temporary and long-lasting relief. How? By giving the affected joints a booster shot of sorts with the very molecules needed to replenish damaged cartilage - glucosamine and chondroitin.