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Overweight, stress and Diet affect the joints. Arthritis, osteoarthritis, bursitis, tendinitis, recent trauma or rheumatoid arthritis.


A healthy joint is:

A joint is the set of elements by which the bones are assembled together. Each joint is classified according to the tissues that unite the bones and the presence or absence of an articular cavity.

There are thus the fibrous joints (between the skull bones), the cartilaginous joints (between each vertebra) and the synovial joints (at the level of the knee). This last articulation is characterized by the great freedom of movement that it allows the limbs: the majority of large joints (elbow, shoulder, knee, hip) also belong to this type of joint.

In any synovial joint (elbow, shoulder, knee, hip), there is a joint cavity, a cartilage that covers the articular bone surfaces, a capsule that delimits the cavity and a liquid (the synovium). Ligaments and meniscus often stabilize the joint. These different tissues interact with each other and each have roles and properties essential to the functioning of the joint without pain and disability: to promote the sliding of the joint surfaces, to dampen, to minimize and to distribute the pressures, to stabilize the structure... The movement takes place thanks to the action of the muscles on the bones. Depending on the joint, there are indeed a number of degrees of freedom between the bones allowing mobility.

A pain in the joints

There may be several reasons for having joint pain. These pains can affect people of all ages. In any case, it is well to recognize the cause. Is it arthritis, osteoarthritis, bursitis, tendinitis, recent trauma or rheumatoid arthritis?

Arthritis usually occurs at a somewhat older age. It differs from osteoarthritis because it causes pain even at rest. It is often accompanied by redness, swelling at the joints. Without necessarily being accompanied by fever, there is a state of inflammation of the joint. At a later stage, it can distort the joint just like rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, causes degeneration of the joint. The cartilages that hold the joints in place become calcified, which leads to pains accentuated by movement. The more the joint is immobilized by the pain caused by the movement, the more it becomes fixed by osteoarthritis.

Most joints are provided with a membrane that surrounds the joint. Inside, there is a serious fluid which serves to lubricate the joint. This membrane is called a "purse". When it is inflamed, usually due to trauma or excessive use of the joint, it causes a "bursitis". The more the joint is solicited, the more pain will be felt. The resting of the joint will be required as long as the healing will not be assured.

Tendonitis, on the other hand, affects the tendons of the joint. These are fibers that attach the joints together. Tendonitis is always caused by repeated movement. We just have to think of the "tennis elbow" that demonstrates the excessive use of the elbow if the tennis move is not well executed. For a tendinitis can heal, we must limit the movement that caused inflammation.

Several joint pains can be prevented if the joint is properly "warmed up" before a movement that requires a certain amount of force. This warming period is used to activate the blood circulation, which will protect the tissues.

What happens during osteoarthritis?

In the case of osteoarthritis, one of the tissues deteriorates progressively : the articular cartilage. By crumbling, it causes the reduction of the thickness of the cartilage and the production of bone excrescences compensations (the osteophytes). These structural changes, irreversible, lead logically to new mechanical constraints which are accompanied by a reduction in mobility and joint stiffness. In addition, during cartilage erosion, small pieces can detach and float freely in the cavity, triggering inflammation, swelling and pain.

What are the most common types of osteoarthritis?

Zygophyseal osteoarthritis is probably one of the less known and paradoxically the most widespread types of osteoarthritis. Probably implicated in the famous backache, the zygophysaire osteoarthritis is intimately linked to several diseases of the back like degenerative discopathy. Almost 90% of people over 65 years old would be affected.

Cervical osteoarthritis is a very common condition. It can occur from the age of 30 and is almost constant after 60 years. Nevertheless, the pain of osteoarthritis often remains discrete and intermittent. Aggravated by fatigue and certain activities such as reading, they are generally well allayed by rest.

Osteoarthritis of the fingers is a type of osteoarthritis that is both frequent and very symptomatic (it often leads to the appearance of small sizes of rounded shape called nodules) which makes it a feared pathology.

Most studied and highly disabling, osteoarthritis of the knee, which affects 12 to 16% of adults over 45 years, and osteoarthritis of the hip which affects nearly 10% of this same population, close the march of this sad prize list.

Osteoarthritis and chronic stress

Recent studies indicate that oxidative stress is implicated in the mechanism of osteoarthritis. Free radicals (or reactive derivatives of oxygen), these unstable compounds formed essentially of oxygen, are thus strongly suspected of contributing to the development of several degenerative diseases of the joints. These compounds are generated during the functioning of the body but their production is multiplied by several factors such as pollution, cigarette smoke, prolonged exposure to the sun and especially chronic stress.

Research is unanimous on the impact of physiological factors associated with stress: fear, anxiety and depression aggravate both the physical and mental abilities of people with osteoarthritis, but also amplify the perception of osteoarthritis pain.

Like most age-related diseases, osteoarthritis appears to be associated with continued exposure to reactive oxygen derivatives. Most of them are produced by chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and are directly involved in the cartilage degradation and synovial fluid. It has also been shown that the risk of osteoarthritis was higher in the case of low levels of vitamins C, a particularly antioxidant micronutrient. Conversely, a high intake of vitamin C appears to reduce the progression of the disease and associated pain. In any case, better management of stress is essential: physical activity, even moderate, is particularly recommended in the context of osteoarthritis, in order to evacuate stress.

Food and Osteoarthritis

In the overweight person with osteoarthritis, one of the goals is to reduce overweight. This is why a balanced diet (70%) holds a prominent place, as well as physical exercise (30%), in the management of the disease.

To prevent worsening of osteo-cartilage damage, dietary measures to reduce excess weight are more effective than those that remove certain foods considered too "acidic".

Weight control is particularly important in osteoarthritis of the bearing joints: knee (knee osteoarthritis), hip (coxarthrosis), spine (lumbar osteoarthritis). Thus, any overload must be provided with a low-calorie diet, limiting the consumption of certain categories of food. It is also valid for other joints.

More than a diet, it is a feeding behavior that the person must adopt.

What kind of food to adopt ?

A specific diet can also help you and will complete the tips mentioned above. For this it is good to know that :

Foods that produce too much uric acid form crystals* (see definition in the box below) that attack the white parts of the joints and then the bones, causing arthritis or osteoarthritis, should be avoided.

Drink, drink and drink, but water, of course! This will keep you hydrated and maintain a good level of fluid around the joints.

Do not forget vitamins. Thus, vitamin C will help you to produce collagen, bone matter and cartilage, vitamin A will regenerate your tissues, and vitamin D will help you absorb calcium and phosphorus, which help prevent osteoporosis and other bone problems.

Consume foods high in mucopolysaccharides, such as pork or beef, to strengthen your joints. Do not abuse it, because these elements bring in a lot of fat and cholesterol.

Anti-osteoarthritis spices : ginger, fenugreek and turmeric. Against osteoarthritis the role of ginger and especially turmeric is twofold: these spices fight against inflammatory processes in the body (they reduce pain) and they act as powerful anti-oxidants.

In practice, how to use them ?

The fresh and raw ginger is rasped on stir-fried dishes, curies, vegetable soups and fish dishes (beware, the peppery taste is strong!) Marinated in vinegar, it accompanies sashimis and sushis, confit it embellishes the cakes and cooked fruits (it is bought in the shops of oriental products).

One or two tablespoons of turmeric powder will color with a beautiful golden tint your soups, vinaigrettes, pasta with pancakes. For it to be well assimilated by the body, it must be associated with a fatty substance (olive oil) and a pinch of pepper.

Advice : If you take your meals outdoors, always carry in your bag your small bottle of turmeric which you will sprinkle salads, vegetables, meats, etc. Or in the evening, prepare a cup of turmeric tea (one teaspoon of turmeric powder infused for 10 minutes). After only 2 months of daily turmeric consumption, you will give me news !

Other foods to integrate into its diet

  • Cabbage and other vegetables
  • Cruciferous vegetables (all cabbages) are a mine of antioxidants and should appear at least three times a week on your menus. All are good: Brussels, romanesco, broccoli, green, red ... They also have the advantage of containing a lot of fibers, which also have anti-inflammatory properties.

    How to increase your fiber intake? By eating the fruits and vegetables to the maximum with their skin, sprinkling the wheat germ salads, replacing the white rice with whole rice, eating dried vegetables twice a week.

  • Shellfish and crustaceans
  • Their carapace contains chitin, a substance that helps maintain the integrity of the cartilage (to be absorbed in capsules, curing twice a year). Mussels and oysters contain many antioxidants, including zinc and selenium. In the absence of fresh mussels, think of canned ones, which can be used in a variety of ways (salad, canapé, pasta, etc.). Algae are also to be put on the menu as often as possible.

    Did you know that a seaweed called dulse contains twenty times more calcium assimilable by the body than cow's milk? To consume in flakes (to be sprinkled on the salads), or whole wrapped around a filet of fish steamed.

  • Olive and colza oil
  • The choice of fat is paramount in inflammation and diseases such as osteoarthritis. Some of them, the omega-6, lead the body to make anti-inflammatory substances. They are found in oils and margarines of sunflower, corn, grape seed, in mixing oils, in chicken eggs fed to cereals, certain meats, liver of certain animals.

Other fats act as real firewalls by curbing the vicious circle of inflammation : these are the famous omega-3. You find them in fish, mash, flax seeds, rapeseed oils and margarines.

It is therefore not the amount of omega 6 that counts but the ratio omega 6 / omega 3, unfortunately a large part of the common fatty foods contain a lot of omega 6.

The first nutritional reflex to adopt when suffering from osteoarthritis is therefore to decrease the intakes of omega-6 and to increase those of omega-3. Nutritionists advise to bet on animal sources (fatty fish 3 times a week) and vegetables (purslane, chew, spinach twice a week, and rapeseed oil every day).

WARNING: carefully read the labels of ready-made products and banish those using sunflower oil or partially hydrogenated fatty acids ("trans" acids) as fat.

*** The rapeseed oil, called canola oil in Canada, is a seasoning oil, can be used in cooking.

Contrary to popular belief, rapeseed oil can be heated (*).Stable and not denatured by a soft cooking (baked or frying), we can therefore use it for pastry, fried vegetables, hot dishes, moderate cooking of meat or fish ... Many uses are possible. With the exception of fried foods ! (*) Opinion of the AFSSA of 22 June 2005

For baking apart from olive oil you can use coconut oil which does not burn when cooking and above all that the body does not store the coconut fat, we assimilate it better than other oils.

Rapeseed oil is therefore the best oil to be consumed on a daily basis, with walnut oil and olive oil. The advice to "vary the oils" should therefore apply mainly to these three oils, and not include oils too rich in omega-6 (sunflower, corn, soy, grape seed, groundnut). The oil is available pure or in mixture. It must be kept away from light to limit its degradation.

* Crystals of uric acid - Definition L'acide urique est un produit présent dans le sang et son taux sanguin est appelé uricémie. Uric acid is a product present in the blood and its blood level is called uricemia. The uric acid in the blood is normally removed by the kidneys, which pass it through the urine. If the concentration of uric acid is excessive, this is called hyperuricemia. In the case of a lasting excess, uric acid can crystallize essentially at the level of the joints, and especially of the joint of the big toe: we speak of gout. This is responsible for severe and severe pain, and treatment relies on colchicine, the decrease in the amount of uric acid in the blood and dietary rules to limit the intake of this constituent. Moreover, uric acid can also crystallize in the urinary tract, and generate kidney stones, which, if blocked in the excretory pathways, cause a very painful nephritic colic attack.

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Xia B et al. Osteoarthritis pathogenesis: a review of molecular mechanisms. Calcif Tissue Int. 2014 Dec;95(6):495-505.
Lee A et al. A current review of molecular mechanisms regarding osteoarthritis and pain. Gene. 2013 Sep 25;527(2):440-7.
Haute Autorité de Santé. Implants articulaires du genou. Révision de catégories homogènes de dispositifs médicaux. Saint-Denis La Plaine : HAS ; 2012
Yong-Hing KK, Kirkaldy-Willis WHW. The pathophysiology of degenerative disease of the lumbar spine. Orthop. Clin. North Am. 1983;14:491–504.
Fujiwara A et al. The relationship between facet joint osteoarthritis and disc degeneration of the lumbar spine: an MRI study. Eur. Spine J. 1999;8:396–401.
Suri P, et al. Does lumbar spinal degeneration begin with the anterior structures? A study of the observed epidemiology in a community-based population. BMC Musculoskelet. Disord. 2011;12:202.
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Jordan JM, Helmick CG et al.: Prevalence of knee symptoms and radiographic and symptomatic knee osteoarthritis in African Americans and Caucasians: the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project.nJ Rheumatol 2007, 34(1):172-180.
Jordan JM, Helmick CG et al.: Prevalence of hip symptoms and radiographic and symptomatic hip osteoarthritis in African Americans and Caucasians: the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project. J Rheumatol 2009, 36(4):809-815.
Rapport et recommandations de l'AFSSA sur les oméga-3

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