Arthritis is much more common than once thought. In the United States, one out of every three adults suffers from arthritis or other chronic joint problems. If you don't have arthritis yourself, you probably know someone who does. You can see how it could keep you from doing the things you love, like picking up a grandchild or riding a bike, thus ultimately stripping away your independence. Over the next 25 years as the Baby Boom generation continues to age, the toll of this disease will escalate.

If you go to a Western trained medical doctor complaining of arthritic pain, chances are he or she will put you on pain killers. Unfortunately, these medications are well established to cause all kinds of side effects - including death! Aspirin and ibuprofen can cause bleeding of the stomach. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage. And prescription pain killers such as Vioxx and Bextra were pulled from the market because they significantly increased the risk of heart attack. Even Celebrex, which was touted as the safe alternative to Vioxx and Bextra, has been shown to increase the risk of heart attack two-fold. Yet, it's still on the market today!

Most people don't believe arthritis can be prevented because there's a common perception that joint cartilage (the cushioning that covers the bones in a joint) simply wears away with age. I know this not to be true. Joint cartilage wears away with inflammation. And if you can prevent inflammation you can prevent arthritis. Even if you already have arthritis reducing the amount of inflammation in your system will help relieve your symptoms and give you more freedom of movement - sometimes within weeks or days. Highly movable joints such as the wrists, fingers, shoulders, hips, and knees, are the most likely to be affected by osteoarthritis. These are called "synovial joints" because the two bones meeting in this type of joint are bathed in synovia, a clear fluid whose job is to provide lubrication.

Sometimes, though, the membrane that secretes the synovial becomes inflamed. Then, an avalanche of inflammatory chemicals gets released - and those inflammatory chemicals wear away the joint cartilage. The first step in any program to combat arthritis then isn't to stop the pain, it's to stop the inflammation!

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Vijaya Nair is an esteemed medical researcher and epidemiologist with a passion for integrating Eastern approaches with Western medical and scientific training. A native of Singapore, she earned her medical degree from the National University of Singapore in psychiatry. Dr. Nair later immigrated to the United States, where she received a master’s degree in epidemiology from Columbia University and completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School.

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