Osteoarthritis is a condition of aging. As a person gets older, the cartilage that protects the joints and helps them move better wears away, leading to pain. Although some wear on the cartilage happens with everybody, arthritis is not simply an inevitable feature of aging. It can be controlled, and even prevented. Repetitive motion without a break wears down the cartilage, and finding a way to avoid that can stave off arthritis. Resting the joints provides some benefit, and lessens wear and tear. On the other hand, exercise can help keep the joints flexible and increase bone strength. Exercise can also help keep weigh under control, which means less strain on the joints, less deterioration of cartilage, and less pain.
One particularly helpful kind of exercise is running. Running wouldn’t seem like an activity that would be beneficial, or even possible, for someone with osteoarthritis, but recent research suggests that going for a run on a regular basis helps prevent damage to the cartilage in the knees. In the past, studies done on professional runners found an increased incidence of arthritis, but people who are involved in less intense forms are less prone to developing the condition. Running helps lower BMI, putting less strain on the knees, as well as building tolerance for movement.
No one has yet found a cure for arthritis, or a way to reverse the damage. A different kind of joint has been suggested as a treatment, but research has found no evidence that medical marijuana is an effective remedy. Medical treatment generally involves drugs to reduce inflammation, along with pain medication. Physical and occupational therapy are used in addition to or instead of medication to manage or relieve pain or to increase range of motion. Braces and orthopedics can help take pressure off affected joints so that the worn-away cartilage isn’t stressed.
Anti-inflammatory drugs called COX-2 inhibitors are commonly prescribed for arthritis, but have been shown to increase the risk of stroke. Another common treatment, acetaminophen, was found in studies to be useless for arthritis pain. However, research has found that high zinc levels contribute to the destruction of cartilage that is behind arthritis, and reducing zinc could help save joints.