By Enyeribe EJiogu
Full grown animals in the cat family, such as tiger, lion, leopard and jaguar, etc, whose survival require speed and agility, to be able to catch prey, even when the prey is bigger than them, have an internal skeletal structure that is very flexible, with very good cartilage between the bone joints, which is resistant to wear and tear.
Moreover the muscles that facilitate motion are designed by nature to stretch and flex as the occasion demands, which is why these animals are able to jump, twist 180 degrees and pounce on prey even when pursuing at full speed, and then come crashing down with the prey firmly gripped with the jaws, without suffering damage to the body.
However, the human body is not so built, as the skeletal structure is more rigid and therefore less amenable to twisting. On the contrary, there are unique individuals who began very early in life to train their bodies to twist into unbelievable shapes. Take for instance, contortionists who can make their legs wrap around their necks or even slap themselves with their feet from a sitting position. Others are ballet dancers whose bodies have also been trained from the age of five to pivot on the tip of their toes or assume unnatural postures in the course of performing intricate dance routines.
From age 40, joints of the human body begin to experience the effects of wear and tear caused by the routine activities of daily life. Just as the tread on vehicle tyres wears away over time, the cartilage that cushions the human joints can break down, too. It’s a condition called osteoarthritis. And without enough padding, your bones will hurt when they rub against each other.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and it affects millions of people around the world. It occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time.
Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint in the body, the disorder most commonly affects joints in hands, knees, hips and spine.
Among middle-aged women in the Southeast, osteoarthritis has become so common that it has even been given a unique descriptive: Oria-ukwu ndi Christian mother, which means leg ailment peculiar to Christian mothers. But the truth is that both men and women suffer from osteoarthritis.
Incidentally, it has been established that the pain and discomfort of osteoarthritis tends to get worse in cold weather, such as during harmattan or even in this rain season, when the weather has been somewhat cold at night and sometimes during the day.
Osteoarthritis symptoms can usually be effectively managed, although the underlying process cannot be reversed. Staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and other treatments may slow progression of the disease and help improve pain and joint function.
In osteoarthritis, frayed cartilage can’t heal or grow back. “There’s no way to reverse the arthritis once it has started,” as Michaela M. Schneiderbauer, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine told Webmd.com in an article published on the site popular health blog. Notwithstanding this fact, there ways you can ease the pain of oosteoarthritis and protect the cartilage you still have.
Below are vital steps you can take to slow the damage
1. Slim down if you’re overweight
It will help take stress off your knees and hips. Every kilogramme you lose removes four kilogrammes of pressure off your knee. That lessens wear and tear in the joint, Schneiderbauer says. “You may actually slow the progress of arthritis if you lose a significant amount of weight.”
What’s “significant”? “Every 10 pounds you lose will reduce pain by 20 per cent,” says Charles Bush-Joseph, MD, of Rush University Medical Center.
2. Do aerobic exercise
rthritis pain might make you reluctant to work out, but research shows that pain and stiffness get worse when you aren’t active enough. Regular exercise that gets your heart pumping will boost your blood flow, which keeps cartilage well nourished. Besides it gives the extra benefit of helping you reach a healthy weight.
“Stay as active as you can tolerate,” Schneiderbauer says. “But avoid high-impact activities, like jumping and running.” Better choices are things like walking, cycling, and swimming. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days a week.
3. Build stronger muscles around your joints
It can help your body absorb some of the shock that normally goes through your joint when you move around during the day. “A strong muscle will prevent a limb from slapping down on the pavement and jarring the joint,” Bush-Joseph says.
Try to build up the muscles that surround your joint. To improve symptoms in your knee, for example, strengthen the quadriceps muscles, which are in the front of your thigh. A physical therapist or personal trainer with experience in working with people with arthritis can show you exercises that will help.
4. Stretch every day
It will help you improve your ability to move your joints. This not only fights stiffness but also helps protect the cartilage from more wear and tear.
“The more joints move, the more the cartilage gets nourished by the joint fluid,” Bush-Joseph says. He recommends yoga or Pilates to make you more flexible. “Don’t feel like you have to be perfect in class. Instructors will accommodate people with limitations.”
5. Try glucosamine and chondroitin supplements
They may help protect your cartilage, though there’s no proof that either one will rebuild it or slow down your arthritis. Some studies suggest they can ease your pain.
6. Use over-the-counter pain relievers for flare-ups
Some common ones are naproxen, ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen. Check with your doctor to decide which one is safe for you. Make sure to read the label and take them only as directed. Over-the-counter painkillers are a good choice for short-term relief during flare-ups of arthritis pain, Schneiderbauer says. If you think you need one every day, talk it over with your doctor.
“If you end up taking it for months or years, it may be time to think about joint replacement surgery,” Schneiderbauer says.
7. If home remedies fail, ask your doctor about injections
Cortisone shots are good for short-term flare-ups. Hyaluronan injections may help, too. It may work as a lubricant and anti-inflammatory in your joint.
► Adapted from Webmd.com