If you suffer from osteoarthritis (OA) you aren’t alone – according to the NHS, around one million people see their GP about OA in the UK each year.
Osteoarthritis causes pain, disability and loss of movement in joint cartilage and bone tissue. Although it can affect any joint in the body, some are more susceptible than others.
The five joints most prone to OA are:
Hips: If you have difficulty bending over to put on your shoes or socks, or you struggle to get in and out of the car, you could be suffering from osteoarthritis in the hip. You may also get pain in the groin or on the outside of the hip. However, because of the way the brain transmits pain signals, osteoarthritis in the hip can present itself with pain in the knee.
Knees: The knee joint itself is the largest and most complex in the body. If you have suffered a knee injury in the past you could be particularly at risk of osteoarthritis. OA could also develop as a result of genetic reasons, repetitive stress injuries or carrying excess weight. Symptoms of OA in the knee include pain, swelling and stiffness in the joint.
Fingers: A common sign of osteoarthritis in the finger is a knobbly bony deformity at the end or in the middle joint of the digit. While these may not be painful, they can reduce your mobility. OA could also appear as a cyst in the finger joint.
Lower back: The lower part of the back is the most common area of the spine for joint pain because this area carries most weight. Pain is often worse first thing in the morning but normally eases during the day and returns in the evening.
Neck: As with the lower back, osteoarthritis in the neck tends to be most painful in the morning and evening. Pain tends to travel towards the shoulder and could cause headaches.
Osteoarthritis can also affect other joints in the body including elbows, ankles, wrists and toes, although these are less common.
Omega 3 and cod liver oil
Both omega 3 fatty acids and cod liver oil could help ease discomfort caused by joint pain and osteoarthritis.
A study conducted at the University of Cardiff found a daily dose of cod liver oil could help reduce the destruction of cartilage in the joints of people suffering from OA. The results also showed cod liver oil could help reduce pain and inflammation caused by the condition.
The results of another study, conducted by the University of Bristol, were published in a 2011 edition of Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. The study, which was conducted on guinea pigs which naturally develop osteoarthritis, showed omega 3 in fish oil could ‘substantially and significantly’ reduce the signs and symptoms of OA. The guinea pigs were fed a diet rich in omega 3 which was found to reduce the onset of the condition by 50%.