05.03.2021

Scientists reveal the most effective ways arthritis sufferers can ease their pain

Scientists have revealed the most effective ways osteoarthritis (OA) suffers can ease their agonising pain.

After analysing more than 60 studies, the researchers discovered just one-and-a-half fish-oil supplements, or one gram, a day significantly reduces crippling discomfort in OA sufferers by easing inflammation.

Vitamin K, which is found in kale, spinach and parsley, also relieves patients’ symptoms by promoting bone and cartilage repair, the study review found.

Among obese OA patients, weight loss helps to minimise pain by reducing the strain put on joints, as well as excessive weight loss being linked to inflammation, the research adds.

Study author Professor Ali Mobasheri, from the University of Surrey, said: ‘Lifestyle should also be considered when attempting to reduce the pain of osteoarthritis.

‘Patients can’t expect miracles with dietary interventions if they are overweight and drink or smoke heavily.’

OA affects up to one third of people over 45 in the UK. The condition is caused by the cartilage at the ends of bones breaking down over time.

Fish-oil supplements significantly reduce discomfort by easing inflammation (stock)

Fish-oil supplements significantly reduce discomfort by easing inflammation (stock)

WHAT IS OSTEOARTHRITIS?

Osteoarthritis – sometimes called ‘wear and tear’ – is a condition that occurs when the surfaces within joints become damaged.

Cartilage covering the ends of bones gradually thin over time, and the bone thickens, according to Arthritis Research UK.

Around a third of people aged 45 years and over in the UK suffer from the condition. This equates to roughly 8.75 million people. At least 20 million are known to suffer in the US.

It is different to rheumatoid arthritis, a long-term illness in which the immune system causes the body to attack itself, causing painful, swollen and stiff joints.

Replacement joints are often necessary for osteoarthritis patients, because the joint has been worn down and causes agonising pain.

‘Diet and exercise should never be underestimated’

Results further suggest that eating whole fish has the same benefits as taking oil supplements, however, many people fail to meet the American Dietary Guidelines of one portion a week.

Taking supplements may be more convenient than incorporating fish into people’s diets.

High cholesterol levels are also associated with OA due to them causing inflammation and accumulating in cartilage, leading to its destruction.

Eating more fibre, as well as adding oats or nuts to OA patients’ diets may help to reduce their cholesterol levels.

Calorie restriction does not benefit OA patients who are of a healthy weight.

Study author Professor Margaret Rayman said: ‘The importance of a good diet and regular exercise should never be underestimated.

‘Not only does it keep us fit and healthy, but as we have learned from this study, it can also lessen painful symptoms of osteoarthritis.

‘We are what we eat and it is important that we have the right amount of nutrients from our food to ensure that our body systems work as they should.’

The researchers wrote, in the journal Rheumatology, that given the limited treatment options available to OA patients, ‘any risk-free means of reducing progression or relieving debilitating symptoms in such a large patient group should be given a try’.

Osteoarthritis affects up to one third of people over 45 in the UK (stock)

Osteoarthritis affects up to one third of people over 45 in the UK (stock)

Scientists rank the most effective treatments for knee OA

This comes after scientists ranked the five most effective, non-surgical treatments for knee OA in research released earlier this month.

For pain reduction, cortisone injections provide the most effective short-term relief, followed by ibuprofen, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, and the non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) naproxen and celecoxib, a study by the non-profit health system Dartmouth-Hitchcock, New England, found.

Yet, naproxen is the best overall remedy to both improve joint function and minimise discomfort, the research adds.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) injections appear to be relatively ineffective at relieving pain or boosting knee function, with 12 out of 53 studies finding such therapies are no better than placebo, the study found.

The researchers believe their findings support the use of naproxen as a first-line drug-based treatment for knee OA.

Previous research also suggests naproxen causes less heart attacks and strokes than other drugs of its class.

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