The medical term for joint decay is “osteoarthritis” or “degenerative joint disease.” The term arthritis itself means joint inflammation, and the most common type is osteoarthritis. Arthritis is frequently connected with stiffness and soreness, especially in the mornings and/or with changes in weather. Arthritis affects nearly every single person as we continue to age; however, there are factors that can limit or possibly prevent arthritis formation. Joint degeneration, is nearly impossible to reverse, however the break down process can be slowed or halted.
Structural Prevention of Arthritis
Another explanation for arthritis is “wear and tear” on the joints. With this in mind, it should be clear that both body weight and joint structure can impact this wear and tear. An increase in body weight will increase the wear on the joints. In fact, Dr. Chris Iliades, MD says, “Being overweight by just 10 pounds increases the stress on your knee joints by the equivalent of 30 to 60 pounds with each step you take.”(1)
Secondly, if the joint is sitting in a mechanically unsound position, it absorbs more force and therefore “wears down” faster. This is especially true with the spine. Front-to-back the spine should be straight up and down; when it is not, this is called scoliosis. Scoliosis puts more strain the on the joints of the inside of the curve (the concave side), thus causing them to break down faster (arthritis).
Looking from the side, your spine should have three primary curves: a neck curve, a midback curve, and a low back curve. The curve acts as a spring allowing the muscles and ligaments to absorb the forces of body weight. When these curves veer from normal, the joints absorb more force and thus break down faster. This is especially seen in the neck when the neck curve is lost (often due to a combination of trauma and poor postural habits).
In a modeling study comparing pain free subjects to acute and chronic neck pain subjects, Harrison et al. reported that normal subjects had a cervical lordosis of 34.5 degrees and cervical lordosis less than 30 degrees was a statistical predictor of acute neck pain subjects while lordosis less than 20 degrees was a statistical predictor of chronic neck pain subjects.(2)
With this in mind, traction devices have been developed over the last 20 years that focus on spinal remodeling, especially neck curve correction. Matter has limitations; however, most necks still respond relatively well to the traction devices.
Diet/Supplements to Control Arthritis
Since there is an inflammatory component to arthritis, dietary changes can be utilized to help control this chronic inflammation. Most of the modern diseases affecting Americans have strong inflammatory components. The biggest offenders in the Western diet that promote inflammation include: white flour, sugar, and omega-6 unsaturated fats (corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower seed oil, vegetable oils, and grain-fed beef). Therefore dietary changes to control or prevent arthritis must involve cutting out all white flour and sugary products, along with significantly reducing consumption of vegetable oil products. At least 9-10 servings of vegetables and fruits (especially greens) should be consumed daily (and most of these servings should be uncooked). Red meat should ideally come from a grass-fed source, or at least be extra lean if grass-fed beef cannot be found.
Supplements to control arthritis and help reduce the pain include anti-inflammatory herbs. Mixing Boswellia (an herbal anti-inflammatory) with glucosamine tends to work well to help reduce symptoms. Instaflex, Osteo Bi-flex, and Flexoplex are just three options out of hundreds of supplement products that incorporate glucosamine with anti-inflammatory herbs. Some studies recommend taking these joint formulas with vitamin D3 (in which most Americans are deficient). Other good anti-inflammatory herbs include turmeric and ginger. Bromelain (an enzyme from pineapple) can also be used to limit inflammation (if taken on an empty stomach), but you should talk to your MD first if you are taking anticoagulants.
Further dietary recommendations can be found at this website: www.deflame.com
2) Harrison DD, Harrison DE, Janik TJ, Cailliet R, Haas JW, Ferrantelli J, Holland B. Modeling of the Sagittal Cervical Spine as a Method to Discriminate Hypo-Lordosis: Results of Elliptical and Circular Modeling in 72 Asymptomatic Subjects, 52 Acute Neck Pain Subjects, and 70 Chronic Neck Pain Subjects. Spine 2004; 29:2485-2492.