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What is arthritis?

Joint wear is described as arthritis. The term is derived from the Greek word for joint: arthron. The chronic joint disease is the result of joint cartilage wear. The consequence is usually inflammation of the inner layer of the joint capsule, the symptoms: pain and increasingly limited mobility.

Which joints are affected?

Arthritis can occur in one or more joints. The following joints are most often affected:

  • Hip joint (coxarthritis)
  • Knee (gonarthritis) 
  • Shoulder joint (omarthritis)
  • Saddle joint of the thumb (rhizarthritis)
  • Ankle Joint
  • Metatarsophalangeal joint of the large toe

Why does arthritis develop?

Joint wear always occurs when the joint is subjected to a greater, longer or different load than is actually intended. Therefore arthritis worsens in old age.

Other reasons that may cause arthritis to develop:

  • Incorrect loading of the joint in places that were not intended for this due to:
    - congenital or acquired deformities of the joints
    - Overloading or incorrect loading of the joints due to sport, occupation, heavy lifting, obesity
  • Joint injuries or previous inflammation of the joint
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Wrong diet with a lack of building blocks that are important for joints
  • Lack of exercise

How is arthritis caused?

The reasons given above for the development of arthritis initially disrupt the balance between cartilage production and cartilage breakdown, to the disadvantage of cartilage production. This results in loss of cartilage: the protective layer of cartilage becomes thinner. Products from cartilage wear and tear get into the joint space and activate inflammatory processes which in turn promote cartilage breakdown and lead to pain, swelling and limitation of movement.

Who suffers from arthritis?

  • Almost one person in three aged 40-50 years
  • One person in two aged 60 years and older
  • 90% of those aged 70 years and older

What is the difference between arthritis and arthrosis?

Both are joint diseases (Greek: arthron). The syllable -sis indicates the advanced disease process which is typical for wear and tear to the musculoskeletal system such as arthrosis. In contrast, the suffix -itis indicates primarily the inflammatory processes. Arthritis and arthosis are closely connected as arthrosis is usually accompanied by inflammation in the joint and as, on the other hand, severe joint inflammation also always leads to joint damage.
However, the causes of arthritis can be diverse: even infections and disturbances of the immune system that result in the breakdown of the body's own tissue (autoimmune diseases) are also a possibility.

Symptoms of arthrosis: Joint pain

Even in the initial phase, arthrosis manifests itself through a feeling of stiffness in the joints. Pain develops later on. This initially occurs only at the start of joint stress. This is referred to as pain on initial movement. Many people are aware of this when they get up after sitting for a long time (in the car). The stress-induced pain is also typical for the early stages of arthrosis, which only develops after a long period of stress – e.g., after several hours on a mountain hike. This can develop into permanent stress-induced pain. Advanced arthrosis is characterised by pain at rest which also develops without stress. Many people who suffer from arthrosis develop a sensitivity to changes of weather: when the weather changes, the symptoms intensify.

What helps arthrosis?

The overriding principle is: "A rolling stone gathers no moss." Exercise is the best prevention, but also the best therapy. Exercise stimulates the production of synovial fluid (joint lubricant) and strengthens the muscles. They support and relieve the joint in its role. This means: Exercise is the most important thing, but without additional stress to the joints!

Nutrition is key: Fruit and vegetables should be on the menu each day, while meat, on the other hand, should be on the menu more rarely. For one thing, meat contains arachidonic acid which promotes inflammation and for another thing animal products are rich in protein and proteins are acid-forming substances. However, in the case of joint diseases such as arthrosis and arthritis, the diet should be as low in acid and as rich in bases as possible. For example, most vegetables, salads, herbs and sprouts are base forming. A basic diet rich in vegetables and low in meat can also contribute to weight reduction in the case of obesity and counteracts a risk factor for joint wear.

Inflammation should be relieved as quickly as possible – if severe inflammation develops in the joint, anti-inflammatory therapeutic measures must be started by your doctor or alternative practitioner.

Advice for improved mobility and reduced pain

  • Take plenty of exercise! Sports that are easy on the joints and involve the whole body such as swimming, dancing, hiking or cycling are most suitable.
  • Maintain a normal body weight!
  • Talk to your doctor about such things as physiotherapy, fango (mud) packs, electrotherapy, exercise therapy in warm water and ways to relieve weight-bearing joints (walking aids, weight reduction)
  • Eat a diet that has abundant vitamins and minerals, but is low in meat.
  • Make sure to eat foods that are rich in bases and possibly support this with basic dietary supplements.
  • Use moss-, quark-, or healing earth packs to relieve pain.
  • Also white cabbage packs can bring relief: Remove large stalks from white cabbage leaves, crush using a rolling pin or bottle so that juice starts to come out and then place on the joint, cover and leave for a few hours to work.

Herbal medicine for joint pain: Devil's claw

The diverse effects of the African devil's claw Harpagophytum procumbens have been valued in Europe since the 1950s.

Devil's claw was used in South African ethnomedicine for

  • Digestive disorders
  • Fever
  • Skin Inflammation
  • Pain

It has also proved to be outstanding in Europe as support in joint disease and digestive disorders.

The herbal drug Pascoe®-Agil 240 mg (tablets) contains extract of devil's claw and is individually dosable.