What is arthritis and is my joint pain and inflammation related, and what can I do about it?
Arthritis is a generic term often used to describe pain in a given joint. Simply put, arthritis can be broken down into the root word, Arthosis meaning joint and the ending, itis meaning inflammation. There are over 200 different causes that lead to arthritis.
The most common cause of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA), which is a wear and tear on a joint's cartilage leading to disruption of the smooth frictionless motion that can lead to dysfunction, pain, swelling, and inflammation of the joint. Per CDC estimates there are more than 32.5 million adults suffering from this form of arthritis. This is the typical type of arthritis that most of us will get as we age. It is kind of like tread on a car tire that slowly wears down after enough miles. Sometimes we hit a pothole along the way that causes damage and expedites the process. Sometimes, well-meaning orthopedists worsen the loss of cartilage/meniscus as a necessary byproduct from repairing a defect. Oftentimes, we hasten the loss of cartilage by the way we drive on the tires so to speak. Our weight, increased high impact activities, different job demands, etc., all lead to more rapid wear and tear on
the joint. Genetics also plays a role. Some people are born with higher quality tires than others. No matter, all roads eventually lead to arthritis if we live long enough.
Another common cause of arthritis is autoimmune arthritis, such as rheumatoid, psoriatic, lupus, etc. Simply put, this is where a person's own immune system attacks part of our own body, in this case being the joint. This also leads to destruction of the joint, cartilage, meniscus and premature wearing out of the joint. These patients can range from mild symptoms to severe swelling and inflammation. For these conditions, I typically recommend a rheumatologist to be on board to help manage and advise to make sure my patients have the best advice to move forward with.
The big question: What can a person do to treat their arthritis or recurring joint pain?
In general, I advise everyone to make sure they have a relationship with their local Primary Care Physician to make sure they have an established diagnosis and plan. Typically, the first and best approach is to make sure that your lifestyle is conducive to maintaining and supporting the affected joints. One factor is to try to maintain ideal body weight to lessen the pressure on the affected joints. This can be a challenge, as exercise is typically a great way to stay in shape but hard to accomplish when the joint hurts. Studies have shown that keeping the joint mobile actually lengthens the amount of time a person can go before requiring more invasive intervention. Physical therapy, when done appropriately, is a great way to maintain function of an arthritic joint. If you are unable to use exercise to achieve your cardiovascular goal, then do not lose heart. In general, 80% of your weight is determined by your diet. Watching your portions and eating healthy foods will give you a lot of bang for your buck. This is important not just from a calorie and weight standpoint but also from an inflammatory standpoint. People who eat a diet high in refined and process foods and sugars have much more inflammation, systemically and locally, than those who don't. I have treated so many patients that have made healthy diet changes and notice that their aches and pains improve, they have less fatigue, sleep better, and have an increase stamina. Water intake is also essential, as maintaining adequate hydration is vital for our cells, tissues, muscles, and joints to function at optimal levels.
Now that we have gotten the typical lifestyle recommendations addressed, the next questions: What else can I do to treat my joint pain and arthritis?
If you have started to have more frequent symptoms, then most people will turn to some over the counter options to calm their symptoms. If the joints feel good normally and only seem to flare up with extra activity, then over the counter analgesics such as tylenol arthritis or nsaids such as ibuprofen, advil, aleve, etc may be enough to get you back to baseline if you can tolerate them.
If you have more frequent flares or want to prevent flares, then finding a daily preventative may be more appropriate for you. The first place a lot of people start is a daily joint supplement. There are many different options available and it can be overwhelming to try to figure out which one(s) to try. After all, how many pills does one person really want to take? (The correct answer is the fewest possible for the best quality of life possible).
So which supplement do I start with?
There are any different supplements a person can opt to start with. First, you should make sure there is some evidence to support taking the supplement. Most have not been evaluated by the FDA, as that can be cost prohibitive and time consuming. That doesn't necessarily mean they don't work, it just means that they were not evaluated by the FDA. Of the one's that have data, the next step is to try to choose one that has the best data. Good luck with that. You will often get mired down in the weeds when trying to sort out the data and the quality of the studies. Most people usually just pick something off the shelf or listen to a recommendation from a friend. As a physician, I am often asked what, if any, supplements or natural products are helpful. The answer is dependent on the patient, their health and lifestyle, and the specific condition being treated. In general, I have been frustrated in trying to find a great product that could help my patients. Most supplements are sold individually and each may only have modest benefit by themselves. There are hardly any comprehensive combined supplements available to better increase a person’s chance at relief or to better support their joints. A person usually has to purchase several different products to find a combination that works for them. The few combinations supplements using ingredients that have at least some research, usually offer sub-therapeutic dosing. So despite using a combination approach, they lower the effective dose and negate the very benefit they are trying to provide. It is this frustration that led me to research and formulate my own comprehensive combination supplement.
JointBoost: A solution to the problem.
I sought out to formulate the most effective supplement I could using a combination of ingredients to achieve the best results using only researched supplements showing efficacy. I spent countless days researching the various supplements and at what dosing would achieve the best results. Once I identified the ideal combination I then had to the ideal serving size, after all, you can only cram so much into a tablet. In order for me to stay true to my mission of providing the best and most effective supplement that I could, I had to increase the daily dose from 1 tablet to 4 tablets as a serving size. The result was JointBoost and StemBoost (which I will discuss in a separate post).
JointBoost includes Boswellia, MSM, Turmeric, Quercetin, and Bioperine. These ingredients all have independent research showing efficacy in helping people with joint pain, arthritis, and the inflammation associated with these conditions. This combination is the comprehensive approach that I had been looking for and believed would provide the highest likelihood of benefit. As with most things in life, not everyone will benefit, but if any supplement can get the job done, I believe JointBoost to be the one.
For patients that require intervention beyond this, I will cover more options in another blog post. Stay Tuned.