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Exercise proves more effective than supplements in treating arthritis

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My dog, Denali started screaming in pain every time he jumped up or moved too fast.  He was only 2 years old and that and the fact that he is part Australian Shepherd and thus prone to jumping and moving fast forced me to take an otherwise healthy dog to my vet. 

After Dr. Mike looked him over, we talked.  Denali might have hip dysplasia or arthritis he said but he wouldn’t know without x-rays.  If the x-rays showed he had either we were looking at hip replacement or some other treatments.  Regardless of the treatment it was going to cost a significant outlay of money on my part and, here was the kicker, there wasn’t any guarantee that anything done would help.  Dr. Mike recommended that I put Denali on a dog food with glucosamine and chondroitin and follow that up with Ester C.  Denali is 12 years old now and while you can on occasion see a hitch in his movements, he appears to be a healthy and still active dog.  So what does all that have to do with aging you might ask?  The answer is that while the glucosamine and chondroitin appear to work at least some in dogs and in horses (the supplements were first tried in horses), they don’t appear to have the same benefit for humans despite being marketed to people with arthritis for over 20 years.

In a study to look at the effects of the supplement, researchers found that a placebo had about the same amount of effect.  Still, scientists say that if the supplements seem to be helping, the supplements are safe and they may make it easier for people to do what has been shown to work, which is losing weight and exercising.  Weight loss of as little as 11 pounds reduced the risk of knee osteoarthritis in women by 50 percent according to a study reported in Arthritis & Rheumatism.  Read and listen to the NPR story here.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, arthritis and other rheumatoid conditions have been the leading cause of disability for the past 15 years in the United States significantly impacting 6 million individuals.  Because of the inability to climb stairs, 4.8 million people find accessibility to buildings to be a major issue.  In fact, having arthritis can impact just about every aspect of daily life from being able to care for your home to being able to get out to see friends and family to eating a meal and driving.  Pain flare ups can impact your relationship with your partner and make the activities of being a grandparent exhausting and painful.

A survey that was released in 2011 found that arthritis affected not just the physical health of the individual but also the mental health.  Adults with arthritis were more than twice as likely to report that they were in either fair or poor condition as individuals without arthritis and were also more likely to report more mentally unhealthy days or days in which their daily activities were impacted.

Disability or impairment with three or more activities of daily living is the most common factors for older people being moved into nursing homes according to the American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging.  What are you doing to prevent one of those individuals from being you?


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