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Cheat Sheet

Arthritis For Dummies (UK Edition)

Don’t suffer in silence – you can do a lot to alleviate the pain of arthritis. This Cheat Sheet gives you a comprehensive oversight of the techniques available to control and manage its symptoms.

Easing Arthritis Symptoms with Supplements

Extensive research has shown that the following supplements are especially helpful in easing arthritis-related symptoms, especially pain and inflammation. Always consult your doctor before taking any supplements.

  • Bromelain: May reduce the swelling and pain of arthritis as effectively as an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug). The recommended dose is 80 to 320 milligrams per day, divided into two or three doses.

  • Gamma linolenic acid (GLA): Helps decrease inflammation and pain, especially with rheumatoid arthritis. The recommended dose is 1 to 2 grams of GLA daily.

  • Ginger: Shown to reduce OA (osteoarthritis) knee pain, thanks to its analgesic, anti-inflammatory abilities. The recommended dose is 225 milligrams of highly purified ginger extract twice daily.

  • Glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate: Increases production of cartilage and the molecules that keep it moist and decreases cartilage breakdown, thereby easing the pain of osteoarthritis and even slowing its progression. The recommended dose is 500 milligrams of glucosamine and 400 milligrams of chondroitin, each taken three times daily.

  • Grapeseed extract: Eases arthritis pain and joint damage by fighting inflammation and preventing or repairing free radical damage to cells. The recommended dosage is 75 to 300 milligrams daily for three weeks and 40 to 80 milligrams daily for maintenance.

  • Niacin: Helps improve joint mobility in OA. The recommended dosage is 15 milligrams daily in the form of niacinamide. (Only take larger doses under the supervision of your doctor.)

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Helps relieve the pain and inflammation seen in rheumatoid arthritis. Some suggest taking omega-3s containing 3 grams of DHA or EPA (types of fatty acid) daily.

  • Selenium: Helps fight free radical damage to the joints and surrounding tissues. The recommended dose is 100 to 200 micrograms daily.

  • Vitamin E: Fights pain and helps control free radical damage to joint tissues. The recommended dose is 400 to 800 international units daily.

  • Vitamin C: Works together with vitamin E against free radicals. Researchers have reported that vitamin C may help halt the progression of osteoarthritis, as well as decreasing OA pain. The suggested dose is 500 to 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C per day.

Talking to Your Doctor about Alternative Therapies for Arthritis

At least 40 per cent of people use alternative therapies for arthritis such as acupuncture or homeopathy, but an estimated three-quarters don’t tell their doctors what they’re doing. Talking to your doctor about alternative approaches can be difficult but here are some tips to help you:

  • Begin with the assumption that your doctor is supportive.

  • Ask what he or she knows about the therapy in which you’re interested.

  • If your doctor doesn’t approve of the therapy you’re interested in, ask for a detailed explanation why not.

  • If there’s no time to discuss your alternative therapy during this visit, ask for another appointment.

  • If your doctor does approve of the therapy, ask if the approach is available on the NHS. If you have private health insurance, see if they will cover the costs of your chosen complementary treatment.

  • If your physician refuses to discuss alternatives with you and/or refuses to work with you if you’re using a non-conventional approach, think about changing your doctor.

Getting the Facts When Considering Surgery for Arthritis

Surgery is either the end of all your troubles or the beginning of a whole new set of problems. Before agreeing to go under the knife to address your arthritic condition, ask your orthopaedic surgeon the following questions:

  • Do my symptoms and test results go hand-in-hand; is my diagnosis really confirmed?

  • Does the type of arthritis I have respond well to surgery?

  • Is surgery a permanent fix for my symptoms, or will it need redoing eventually?

  • What results can I expect from this surgery?

  • What risks are involved?

  • What is involved in the post-surgery rehabilitation?

  • Am I physically able to withstand the surgery?

  • What does the future hold if I don’t have surgery?

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