What is osteoarthritis and how to avoid it? New opportunities to treat it

Osteoarthritis is the wear and tear of youth of the musculoskeletal system. When we are young, the body has a great capacity for healing and our body is constantly renewing itself. The body is made up of about 40 billion cells which, as a general rule, are renewed every 7 years, although this frequency varies according to the parts of the body.

The cells of the musculoskeletal system can last up to 15 years, but in the end they must be renewed and replaced by new ones so that everything can function. So as they are renewed, the cells make copies of themselves with more and more errors and function worse and worse. It is a similar procedure to that of a CD or DVD that reproduces its content many times and ends up scratched, distorting its image or sound.

Although we have ways of repairing damage to the genetic material of cells, over time the damage accumulates and the cells function worse, as we become slower, stiffer, weaker and older. What most affects osteoarthritis are the joints that are subjected to repeated load or stress, especially the knee and hip. We must not lose sight of the fact that when jumping or simply climbing stairs, some areas of the knee bear more than 10 times the weight of your body.

Other small joints are also affected, such as those of the neck, when we maintain a bad posture, or those of the hands, especially in manual workers. The first thing that the patient suffering from osteoarthritis will notice is that his knees creak when climbing stairs, that he has to “warm up” to move the joints properly, and he will notice slight pain or stiffness that makes certain movements difficult, loss of agility, etc. Eventually, you will find it difficult to walk or grip objects tightly. The World Health Organization estimates that half of the world’s population will suffer from osteoarthritis in their lifetime. If you are over 45 years old, you should know that you will have osteoarthritis in with a probability of 10% if you are male and the probability is more than 20% in women.

What can be done?

Traditionally, osteoarthritis has been treated by relieving the symptoms with painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs and, in advanced cases, by replacing the joints with prostheses. The problem is that these medicines, besides not treating the problem, only the pain, are not effective and in the long term can damage the liver, stomach or kidneys. The problem with prostheses is that they involve very aggressive surgery and sooner or later another even more aggressive surgery is needed to change them when they wear out. Thanks to science, we now have another solution: Orthobiologics.

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Orthobiologics is a subspecialty of Traumatology-Orthopedic Surgery that studies the natural healing processes to enhance them and prevent the body from deteriorating over time or, at least, to do so more slowly. The goal is that your body regenerates and your injuries or ailments heal as if you were a child. Orthobiological techniques are applied to prolong youth in patients who begin to have osteoarthritis to slow or reverse aging in people who already have osteoarthritis and also to heal injuries in athletes getting the most functionality in the shortest possible time.

Tips that are within our reach

The pillars on which the prolongation of youth is based, in addition to advances in medicine, are:

  • To lead a healthy lifestyle.

Advanced treatments are of little use if you lead an unhealthy life abusing junk food, tobacco or alcohol. Our health depends, above all, on our daily habits. It is essential to have a healthy diet based on fresh, unprocessed food, based on vegetables, legumes, nuts and olive oil. You should also eat oily fish rich in Omega 3 (tuna, salmon, sardines, anchovies…).

On the other hand, you should avoid processed foods, sugar, non-whole grains (especially white bread) and limit the consumption of processed red meat. It is essential to drink plenty of water. In addition, a drink that has been shown to have antioxidant capacity is green tea. This diet has anti-inflammatory properties, preventing prolonged inflammation from deteriorating tissues.

  • Moderate the amount and number of intakes.

Eating little and intermittent fasting have been shown to be effective in slowing metabolism and controlling blood sugar, two key factors for longevity. Intermittent fasting also prevents osteoporosis.

  • Avoid obesity and sedentary lifestyles.
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The WHO estimates that 60% of people in the world do not get enough physical activity. Lack of physical activity is one of the most important causes of premature aging and death, as the organization estimates that about 6% of all deaths worldwide are the result of a sedentary lifestyle. It also contributes to overweight and obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and blood cholesterol, so this percentage will probably be much higher if we take into account these associations:

  1. Sedentary people are 20 to 30% more likely to die young than non-sedentary people.
  2. Sedentary lifestyles are associated with more than 25% of breast and colon cancers.
  3. More than 25% of diabetes cases.
  4. More than 30% of ischemic heart disease: angina pectoris and heart attacks.
  5. It increases by 25% the chances of suffering depression.

Joint overload due to overweight associated with insufficient joint mobility damages cartilage and worsens osteoarthritis. It is essential to do healthy exercise on a regular basis and to do as much exercise as possible throughout the day with small gestures such as using the stairs instead of the elevator, getting up frequently from the chair, making short trips by bicycle or walking instead of taking the car. Movement is life.

  • Promote quality rest.

It is also necessary to take care of rest, since the alteration of the wake-sleep cycles diminishes our healing capacity. The third pillar of prolonged vitality, in addition to Orthobiology and a healthy lifestyle, is the control of your emotions and thoughts. Of all the physiological processes in your body, the only thing we can really control is your mind, your thoughts. As Buddha said: “As you think, so you are: If your thought suffers, you are a martyr. If your thought does not suffer, you will be happy. Control your thoughts.

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Thoughts are intimately linked to our emotions and it has been proven that chronic stress is associated with shorter telomere length, which are the parts of the chromosomes that “protect” the genetic information of the cells, and that when they are lost, the alteration of the genetic information of the cells and the deterioration of the tissues occurs. On the other hand, if we are able to replace worries with motivation, if instead of feeling anguish we take situations as challenges to overcome, if we find meaning in our lives and feel useful and valid, our chromosomes will be protected and we will not only live happier, but we will also live longer and healthier.

In short: eat little and healthy, move a lot, live every moment and be grateful for the gift that is Life. And when you start to feel that something is not right, consult your doctor.