Treatment for osteoarthritis and other arthritic conditions with nutrition, knee bracing, custom orthotics

Osteoarthritis: How to Improve Arthritic Conditions

In our clinic we frequently encounter individuals with chronic joint conditions which have resulted in a diagnosis of

In our clinic we frequently encounter individuals with chronic joint conditions which have resulted in a diagnosis of osteoarthritis (OA).

So What is Osteoarthritis Exactly?

OA is a condition whereby from wear and tear over time, the cartilaginous ends of bones have become damaged. It can affect any joint like those in the hands, wrists, hips, knees, back, ankles and feet. These problems, which may have started as mechanical issues in a joint, can cause degeneration of the cartilage often followed by a pattern of ongoing pain that can be affected by activity, increased stressful use, and even changes in the weather!

Think of your joints like hinges on a door.  If those hinges start to rust (OA), the hinges just don’t move as well.  Now on top of the rust, imagine that the door is off centre and is pulling more on one of those rusty hinges.  The hinge being rusty is one area that you’d want to address but you’d definitely also want to take care of the off centre door!  Continuing with the metaphor, we’d like to talk about how to grease the hinge and also how to keep that door moving better.

Relief of Osteoarthritis

So let's take care of that off centre door.  If muscles are tight/immobile around the affected joint, it can greatly exasperate the OA by pulling the joint in directions it doesn't want to move.  Try using a heating pad to loosen up muscles above the affected joint followed by self massage or rolling.   A visit to see a registered massage therapist/physiotherapist/chiro/athletic therapist can make a huge difference.  If looking for a good therapist, word of mouth is always a great way to start!  

Strengthening areas above and below the affected joint can also help to ensure there is no extra strain on the area.  If considering a strengthening program, it's definitely recommended to seek out professional help.  Best of intentions but on their own, people often gravitate towards doing exercises that they know or are good at which can actually make the imbalances worse.  With the right program, even 5-10 minutes of strengthening the right muscles can be more effective than 30 minutes of working the wrong ones.  Both strengthening and mobility/flexibility work have the advantage of not only helping the condition in the short term, but also helping to prevent further damage down the road. 

So what about the grease? Can we fix that? Can our joints and osteoarthritis reverse? There are perhaps ways to help

Supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin sulphate, collagen, and gelatin have long been long known to be the building blocks of our cartilage and other tissues in the body.  Using these supplements may help those with OA and are a great option for vegans and vegetarians.  However, many of the quality supplements tend to be pretty expensive and not a tonne of scientific literature to prove their efficacy.  Not to fear, because one of the best ways to get these nutrients is through an old method of nutrient extraction from animal bones called bone broth or stock (click here for recipe).  Bones boiled down from pasture raised, grass fed animals like beef, lamb or chicken into stock make for cups of nutrient dense broth. Choc-o-block with amino acids, minerals and the supplement ingredients listed above, make it a natural, tasty, and inexpensive way to nourish the body to heal worn down working joints.  Many top level sports teams like the NBA's L.A. Lakers are using it in their nutrition plans to repair and prevent injuries with their elite level players!  

Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.   Hippocrates

In addition to the bone broth, choosing 'anti-inflammatory foods' (widely accepted as supportive of our body's healing mechanisms) such as vegetables, fruits, and high omega 3 food sources (to name but a few) can also be incredibly helpful.  In addition, avoiding 'highly inflammatory foods' such as refined sugar, grains, some types of legumes, alcohol, dairy, and processed fats like vegetable oils can also be highly beneficial (*unique with every person).  Food is such a huge factor for everybody's health but takes on an even greater importance when dealing with an inflammatory condition like arthritis. 

Bone broth can provide relief from osteoarthritis

More and more companies are coming out with high quality bone broth but one of the most inexpensive ways to get it is to visit your local butcher and look in their freezer section (click here for recipe).  To our knowledge there is still no definitive studies showing the benefits of bone broth for OA, but many arthritic sufferers tout it as a magic elixir.  If nothing else, it’s a healthy food that will help to make your soups, stews, and other broth based recipes taste really good!  Click here for more information on bone broth.

Our joints depend on movement for their on going health and function.  Unlike muscle tissue that receives nutrients via blood flow and contraction, our joints don't carry blood vessels. The source of nutrient delivery is through out joint's fluids (synovial fluid) and this is transported into the joint with, you guessed it, movement!  In our current lifestyles where sedentary behaviour infiltrates our average day far too often, movement is a critical influence to the adage of 'use it or lose it'.  Frequent movement at low intensities (like walking) can positively promote long term joint health.

Our joints depend on movement for their on going health and function.

Osteoarthritis can be an extremely painful condition and sometimes we need to find ways to unload an area that's causing discomfort.  Two common areas to develop OA that we see are knees and big toe:

For those suffering from OA of the knee, unloader braces are available which can help to prevent bone from rubbing on bone.  These braces are available in both off-the-shelf and custom models and the best brace will completely depend on the individuals activity level and needs.  Modern knee braces can be surprisingly light weight and can provide substantial and often instantaneous relief.

For OA of the first MTPJ (the joint at the base of the big toe), stiffeners can be added to footwear to prevent excessive bending of the big toe which can provide substantial relief.  This can be done as an addition to a custom orthotic or as a stiffener plate that is added to the shoe(s).

knee brace for OA

Unloader knee braces can be incredibly effective at providing relief from osteoarthritis pain in the knees.  Lightweight and breathable, many of these braces allow you to adjust ‘on the fly’ the amount of unloading that the knee joint needs.

If you’re suffering from osteoarthritis or any other arthritic condition, use the tools and bandaids necessary to help unload the affected area to allow you to get back to your day to day activities.  At the same time, try to find a few minutes a day to work on flexibility/mobility/nutrition/strengthening.  Your joints will thank you!

As always, we’d love to hear back from you if you have any questions and/or feedback.  Be sure to sign up for our newsletter for upcoming events, sales, and blog articles!

Leave a Comment