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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Matthew B, MD

Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most frequent causes of physical disability in the world, affecting more than 20 million Americans. Osteoarthritis is characterized by loss of cartilage in the joint. It is not mere wear and tear, but an active joint disease with a prominent inflammatory component. Medical management starts with acetaminophen, then non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and even corticosteroids injected into the knees. However, before escalation of drugs, it is recommended that patients lose weight and develop an exercise routine.

Obesity and Osteoarthritis

Obesity is a large risk factor for osteoarthritis. Obesity doesn’t just put more pressure on the joints. Fatty tissue inside the joints is a source of pro-inflammatory chemicals that increase cartilage breakdown. Losing weight and having fewer of these chemicals in the body improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis. The Western diet also contributes to inflammation in the body and stresses the joints.

Foods for Osteoarthritis

Turmeric: Comparing pharmaceuticals and turmeric curcumin, one clinical study showed with the addition of curcumin, patients saw their pain diminish and doubled how far they could walk.

Ginger: In multiple studies, ginger has been able to reduce pain and disability in OA. And it can help heal the stomach lining, often damaged by NSAID use.

Sesame seeds: Sesame seeds have been shown to lead to a significant drop in inflammatory markers of osteoarthritis. More importantly, they significantly reduce pain in OA patients compared to standard therapy.

Rose hips, soy protein, cilantro, and acai berries may also help with inflammation and symptoms of OA.

Image Credit: Pixabay. This image has been modified.

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