Our Joints

The health of our joints is something that can often be taken for granted in our younger years but can come into sharp focus as we age, and aches and pains start to occur.

 

A healthy joint repair process sees damaged cartilage, which is normal as part of day-to-day life, go through a rebuilding process to enable the joints to continue functioning in a healthy manner.

 

In healthy joints, a material called cartilage, made up of components such as collagen and proteoglycans, protects each end of the bone, acting as a cushion and providing a smooth movement between connecting bones. This function helps keep us moving comfortably throughout life.

 

Normally, the body will initiate a process to repair the cartilage and build new collagen to replace the degraded material. While the process is slow, it is an efficient way for the body to repair the joint.

 

It’s natural though to experience wear and tear as part of this wider cycle of repairing the joints. This wear and tear can occur as a result of general day-to-day use, or it can be accelerated with more intensive use of the joints; working in a very physical job that includes lots of lifting, taking part in sports or activities that put your joints under extra pressure – but needless to say, at some point in our lives, we will ALL experience aches and pains of the joints.

Tear, Flare & Repair

In the UK, Osteoarthritis is the most common condition that causes joint pain and stiffness, with millions seeking treatment each year.

 

 

An illustration of the compromised joint repair process

 

In the case of Osteoarthritis, and as demonstrated by the above image, the repair process is compromised – whether by general wear and tear, intensive wear, or injuries sustained by the joints; leading to a long-term inadequate function of joint repair.

 

As you can see, when the cartilage in the joints degrades, the ends of the bones, now exposed by the lack of cartilage, begin rubbing together as they meet in the joint capsule, causing pain, stiffness, and inflammation.

Key Statistics

While there are a number of conditions that can impact the joints, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Gout, the main joint disease experienced by people in the UK is Osteoarthritis, with over 8.5m people having the condition:

 

  • 18.2% of adults aged over 45 years in England have osteoarthritis of the knee. In Scotland this is slightly lower at 16.6%, and Wales at 17.2%*
  • Around 8.75 million people aged 45+ in the UK have sought treatment for osteoarthritis. **
  • 1 of 3 people with osteoarthritis retire early, give up work or reduce hours**
  • Genetic factors are thought to account for 60% of hand and hip osteoarthritis and 40% of knee osteoarthritis***
  • Around 20% of people with osteoarthritis experience symptoms of depression and anxiety****
  • People who are overweight or obese are approximately 2.5 and 4.6 times more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis than those of normal body weight*****

Supporting Joint Health

Image of commonly affected joints under conditions such as Osteoarthritis

 

Whether you have been diagnosed with a joint health condition, such as Osteoarthritis, you’re just suffering from general aches and pains, or you’re just concerned about the long-term health of your joints – there is positive action that can be taken to maintain the health, strength and flexibility of your joints.

 

  • Maintaining a healthy level of exercise – a number of exercises, within your capability, such as aerobics, stretching and resistance training, can have a positive impact on the health of your joints, as well of the raft of mental and physical health benefits that can also be gained from regular exercise. These types of exercise will help with increasing the strength of the muscles that support the joints, resulting in less stress on the joint itself, in addition to helping manage your weight.

 

  • Managing your body weight. Keeping your weight at a healthy level is advised. Being overweight puts significant extra pressure on your joints and over time it can lead to the development of osteoarthritis.

 

  • Sugars, foods high in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates can all contribute to increasing inflammation, one of the key elements of pain and discomfort in the joints. Reducing intake of these types of foodstuffs can help to lessen the impact on the joints.

Nutrition for Joint Health

Ensuring that you have a healthy, balanced diet can make a positive difference to the health of your joints. Certain food groups even have natural anti-inflammatory properties, so these are key to look out for when crafting a food plan to aid your joints:

 

  • Vitamins A, C and E contain antioxidants that can keep the symptoms of arthritis at bay
  • Oils such as extra virgin olive oil have been shown to have similar properties to NSAIDs
  • Dairy products, such as low fat milk, yoghurt and cheese contain proteins that contribute to muscle growth
  • Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are rich in vitamin D and antioxidants
  • Green tea contains antioxidants that can contribute to reducing inflammation
  • Broccoli contains a compound called sulforphane which researchers believe can slow the progression of osteoarthritis and is also rich in vitamins K and C and calcium
  • Garlic is believed to contain active ingredients that help protect cartilage from damage of specific enzymes

 

Image of various fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and fish.

 

However, whilst the benefits that whole foods provide should not be understated, it can be difficult to consistently hit particular targets with your food choices. As a result, supplementation has become a popular option to try and aid in the daily management of joint health concerns, such as osteoarthritis.

 

Many popular supplements include high amounts of vitamin C or ingredients such as glucosamine and omega 3 oils as these have benefits associated with the joints. However, the overall effectiveness of these supplements can be brought into question, and there are very few clinical studies linked to even the key ingredients that support their efficacy in supporting joint health.

 

LithoLexal® Joint Health, containing the proprietary LithoLexal® marine plant extract, Vercilexal®, vitamins C & D and Manganese has been formulated to provide a single solution that is clinically proven to improve symptoms of Osteoarthritis such as pain, stiffness and mobility.

 

Click below to find out why LithoLexal® is better than the alternatives:

LithoLexal - Better Because

References

*https://www.versusarthritis.org/policy/resources-for-policy-makers/musculoskeletal-calculator/
**https://www.versusarthritis.org/media/2115/osteoarthritis-in-general-practice.pdf
***https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14698640/ – Spector TD, MacGregor AJ. Risk factors for osteoarthritis: genetics. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2004;12 Suppl A:S39-44.
****https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26795974/ – Stubbs B, Aluko Y, Myint PK, Smith TO. Prevalence of depressive symptoms and anxiety in osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Age Ageing. 2016 Mar;45(2):228-35.
*****https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26656979/ – Zheng H, Chen C. Body mass index and risk of knee osteoarthritis: systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMJ Open. 2015 Dec 11;5(12):e007568.
*****https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-14-143 – Kearns, K., Dee, A., Fitzgerald, A.P. et al. Chronic disease burden associated with overweight and obesity in Ireland: the effects of a small BMI reduction at population level. BMC Public Health 14, 143 (2014).

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