Many Americans who suffer from arthritis are completely unaware of their treatment options beyond medication and surgery. Since the controversy of Vioxx and Celebrex, other options are desperately needed. This article will briefly cover the various types of arthritis, and what the latest research indicates to improve the condition. Arthritis is one of the oldest known afflictions of human beings, and can affect virtually every part of the body, from the feet, to the knees, back, shoulders, and fingers. Over fifty million Americans suffer from arthritis. The most common types are Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Osteoarthritis (OA), and Gouty Arthritis (GA). Rheumatoid arthritis is three times as common in women than men, begins between 20-60 years old with peak activity between 35-45, and is considered an auto-immune disorder. The most common symptoms are small-joint discomfort, warmth, swelling and redness; limited range of motion, distortion, and morning stiffness. RA is bilateral (meaning that both left and right sides of the body are affected), and typically gets worse over time. Osteoarthritis, in contrast, affects the larger weight-bearing joints asymmetrically; with symptoms of local tenderness, joint cracking/grinding and dysfunction, and pain increasing with activity. Fifty percent of people over 50 years old suffer from OA. Osteophytes or bone spurs occur in the late stages of OA. Gouty arthritis or "gout" is the formation of uric acid crystals in the small joints of the feet and hands, especially the big toe. Ninety percent of gout sufferers are overweight men who indulge in rich foods and alcohol. According to the Prescription for Nutritional Healing; milk, dairy products, caffeine, citrus fruits, paprika, salt, tobacco, and sugar should be REDUCED or ELIMINATED from your diet. Additionally, nightshades (e.g. red, green, and yellow bell peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, white flesh potatoes) should be avoided because they have a tendency to intensify the condition. Foods containing sulfur, such as asparagus, eggs, garlic, and onions are important for the repair and rebuilding of bone, cartilage, and connective tissue, and aid in the absorption of calcium. Other good foods include green leafy vegetables, which supply vitamin K; fresh vegetables, nonacidic fresh fruits, whole grains, oatmeal, brown rice, and fish. Fresh pineapple contains bromelain which is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory agent, and works by stimulating the body's production of prostaglandins.

One of the most overlooked approaches to improve the discomfort associated with arthritis is WATER. In Your Body's Many Cries for Water, Dr. Batmanghelidj asserts that dehydration is responsible for the majority of joint pain in this country, and merely increasing water consumption will relieve the symptoms within 2-3 weeks. Depending on your level of activity, a good rule of thumb is to drink HALF of your weight in ounces. If you tip the scales at 200 lbs, you should consume 100 oz of pure filtered water per day. Acupuncture is well-known in China for its effectiveness at treating arthritis. Practitioners use hair thin, stainless steel needles inserted in very specific places on the patient which accelerates the their body's ability to heal their joints. A study performed in England and published in 2002 measured several parameters of knee osteoarthritis including time to walk 50 meters, climb 20 steps and overall level of pain using acupuncture compared to no treatment. The patients who received acupuncture treatment over an 8 week period improved in all of the parameters measured compared with those with no treatment who deteriorated in all categories. Additionally, a very well designed study was performed by the University of Maryland that concluded that acupuncture was 88% effective at improving knee osteoarthritis as measured by analgesic consumption, range of motion, and a number of other parameters. You can find a board certified, licensed acupuncturist in your area by going to www.nccaom.org and clicking on "find a practitioner".

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