Don’t let joint problems stop you from enjoying life

More and more Malaysians are travelling all over the world as tour packages and flight tickets are becoming more affordable due to stiff market competition.

Then, there are many people like 59-year-old Sue Lim, who shy away from leisure trips because of excruciating knee joint pains. Having to climb up and down the bus and walking fast to keep up with the tour group makes her apprehensive about joining group tours.

Three months ago, Lim’s neighbour Khadijah, 56, a retiree and avid traveller, introduced a joint health supplement for her joint pains.

Today, Lim’s knees are pain-free and she’s off hunting with Khadijah for some sweet travel deals at a travel fair near home.

Knee joint pains are fairly common in middle-aged and older people, usually brought about by a condition known as osteoarthritis (OA).

Sometimes termed degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis, OA is the most common chronic condition of the joints. It can affect any joint, but it occurs most frequently in the knees, hips, lower back and neck.

OA is a condition characterised by the breakdown of the joint cartilage. Cartilage is the part of the joint that cushions the ends of the bones and allows easy movement of joints.

The cartilage in the joint is important because it allows the joint to move smoothly and helps prevent friction between bones.

However, as people approach middle age, they tend to find that their joint cartilage regrowth is unable to keep up with the rate of wear and tear. When the joint cartilage wears out, it causes pain, inflammation and swelling.

Common OA symptoms to look out for include:

  • Joint pain – This is experienced by more than a third of osteoarthritis sufferers. Joint pain is typically worse during periods of activity and eases with rest.
  • Stiffness – especially in the hands, knees, hips and spine, are common in people with OA, particularly after getting out of bed in the morning or after sitting for a long time. To help avoid stiffness from inactivity, your doctor may recommend low-impact exercises like swimming and cycling.
  • Reduced range of motion is another common symptom. Your doctor may recommend special range-of-motion exercises to keep your joints flexible.
  • Muscle weakness and reduced muscular function is often experienced by those with OA. Some studies have shown that muscle weakness can actually be a contributing factor in the development of OA, particularly that of the knee.
  • Joint cracking and creaking are often felt and heard by some people with OA. This happens as cartilage wears away, allowing the bones in the joint to move against each other. If you have cartilage loss or damage because of OA, you may benefit from surgery to replace the cartilage.

Alternatively, your healthcare professional may introduce to you some well-known joint health nutrients such as glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are produced naturally in the body and are building blocks of cartilage in the joints. Glucosamine is involved in building and repairing cartilage that surrounds joints. However, as the body ages, less amounts of glucosamine are produced.

On the other hand, chondroitin, which is also found in the cartilage, is mainly involved in the “attraction” of fluid (acts as a water magnet) that lubricates the joints and gives rigidity to the cartilage.

Glucosamine is often taken together with chondroitin and are important nutritional compounds that are essential to rebuild strong, flexible cartilage.

The United States Arthritis Foundation recommends 1,500mg glucosamine and 800-1,200mg of chondroitin daily for OA. You should allow a reasonable amount of time to notice any benefits.

There was a recent consumer satisfaction survey conducted with over 200 Malaysians who were taking a clinically-tested glucosamine and chondroitin supplement; 98.2% of the users agreed that the product relieved their joint pains effectively, as well as improved their flexibility and mobility.

Many nations across the globe such as the US, United Kingdom and Australia also regularly observe very positive results in the treatment of OA when oral MSM supplement is added to glucosamine and chondroitin nutritional therapy.

MSM is a natural form of the sulphur found in our living tissues. It delivers sulphur to the body in a useable way to help strengthen join connective tissues.

Supplemental MSM helps to support healthy joints and connective tissues such as tendon, cartilage, ligaments and muscle. Studies have also found that MSM helps to reduce stiffness and swelling, thus reducing pain and improving flexibility.

MSM appears to be the ideal companion to glucosamine and chondroitin. So, if you are currently taking only glucosamine and chondroitin, you may be missing out on the synergistic benefits of MSM.

The US Arthritis Foundation recommends starting with a dose of 500mg twice a day, and increasing gradually to 1,000mg twice a day. After starting MSM, allow a reasonable amount of time to notice any benefits.