There are numerous forms of arthritis in the UK, the most common of which are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Many people struggle with pain during the early stages of arthritis and often wait to seek advice and treatment until the pain becomes unbearable. However, the symptoms are easier to treat when caught as early as possible.
The early symptoms you experience depend on the type of arthritis you are suffering from. Osteoarthritis is caused by a reduction in the cartilage between the joints. This causes bone to grind against bone, which can make the most basic movements painful and problematic. Osteoarthritis currently affects over 8 million people in the UK.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in many joints around the body and results in joint pain, swelling and stiffness. It is also often associated with flu like symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis currently affects approximately 400,000 people in the UK.
Lifestyle and dietary habits can help to limit pain and preserve mobility. Ideally these need to be adopted as soon as the symptoms begin to appear. So, what are the most common signs of early onset arthritis:
- Joint pain and stiffness
Joint stiffness often occurs after a period of inactivity, and this is why it is common to experience stiffness in the morning. It reduces mobility and the range of movement. Try placing something cold on the affected joint(s). This will help to contract the blood vessels surrounding the affected joint and numb some of the pain. Following a daily supplement regime can also help to reduce joint stiffness.
- Pain in the big toe
Gout is a form of arthritis that affects approximately 1 in 200 people in the UK, the majority of which are men over the age of forty. Gout occurs because of a problem in the way our bodies metabolise uric acid and commonly affects the big toe. The result is painful swelling and the surrounding skin is reddened and hot to touch. Early treatment can help to reduce the frequency and severity of pain.
- Appearance of bumps on the fingers
These bumps are also know as ‘bony spurs’ and often appear on the finger joints. This is one of the leading symptoms of osteoarthritis and often affects women. As cartilage is worn away joints may appear deformed, taking on an angular appearance. This is particularly common in the hands and knees. Crepitation may also occur if the pain becomes worse (this is the medical term for the grinding sound made by bone rubbing against bone). The swelling and pain that is associated with these bony spurs reduce mobility and make simple tasks such as buttoning a shirt, tying shoelaces or turning a key in a lock tricky.
Arthritis in the hands can also be a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis, if both hands and feet are affected simultaneously. With the right care the painful symptoms associated with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can be significantly reduced.
- Trouble sleeping due to pain
Unfortunately, many painful joint conditions also affect our sleeping patterns, and result in us being awakened by pain throughout the night. Try to have a warming bath before bed to relax the joints. The first signs of gout often occur at night and this is generally considered to be one of the most painful forms of arthritis.
- Fatigue and flu like symptoms
Fatigue and flu like symptoms can be an indication of rheumatoid arthritis. In these cases joint pain and swelling often affects the entire body rather than one specific joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is also commonly associated with other symptoms including weight loss, chronic tiredness and anaemia. Visit your doctor if you think you may have developed these symptoms.
- Red, patchy or scaly skin
This could be due to the development of psoriatic arthritis, which is a type of arthritis that is also associated with psoriasis. In addition to the painful joints commonly associated with arthritis, the skin also becomes red and inflamed making it appear patchy or scaly. This can affect any joint in the body, and the severity of pain can vary from person to person. Approximately one in ten people suffering from psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis at some point during their lives.
Supplements to support joint maintenance
Glucosamine and Chondroitin - Osteoarthritis is commonly due to the wear and tear of the cartilage that protects bones and joints. In such cases supplements can help to repair and protect joints from further damage, improve mobility and reduce tenderness and pain. Glucosamine and Chondroitin are a popular combination with arthritis sufferers worldwide.
GreenShell Mussel extract – Green Lipped Mussels from the clear waters off New Zealand naturally contain Glucosamine, Chondroitin and essential fatty acids. They are popularly taken to reduce the inflammation associated with arthritic joints for fast pain relief. Studies have supported the use of Green Lipped Mussels for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis; one study found that supplementation with Green Lipped Mussels helped to reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis by 70% and rheumatoid arthritis by 76% over a three month period.
Celadrin® – a patented blend of fatty acids that have been converted into compounds called esters so they are more bio available. Studies suggest Celadrin® boosts the performance of Glucosamine in reducing inflammation when taken together. Celadrin® also acts as a lubricant to improve movement and flexibility. Celadrin® has been the subject of many rigorous trials and studies, which have shown the success of Celadrin® in increasing joint mobility and increasing walking distance in people with severe arthritis. Celadrin® also aids the health of the immune system and so can help with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
Omega 3 – many studies have shown the beneficial effects of omega 3 fatty acids as a powerful anti inflammatory. Studies have focused on patients suffering with rheumatoid arthritis and have found they can reduce pain and stiffness in joints, especially in the morning or after long periods of inactivity. Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in oily fish, flaxseed oil and fish oils.
Ginkgo Biloba – the herb Ginkgo Biloba is popularly taken in combination with joint supplements like Glucosamine to increase circulation around the body and to the extremities. Preliminary studies have found that Ginkgo Biloba may be beneficial for people with arthritis to reduce pain and inflammation, especially for arthritis of the hands and feet.
Study: Green Lipped Mussel may reduce joint pain: Supplementation with Green Lipped Mussels can offer natural relief from joint pain and inflammation.
Which joint supplement best suits your needs? Tailor your supplement regime to suit your individual requirements.
Important vitamins for the over 60s: As we age our nutritional requirements change and certain nutrients become even more important than others.