Arthrosis is a degenerative condition characterized by the progressive deterioration of the joint cartilage that protects and lubricates the bones. The cartilage wears down and thickens, forming osteophytes, which are bony outgrowths that can irritate surrounding tissues, causing pain and inflammation. Arthrosis can affect both large joints, such as knee and hip, and smaller ones like finger joints. The name given to the different type of arthosis takes after the affected area. Rhizarthrosis is the name used for thearthrosis that affects one of the most important hand jointsthe trapeziometacarpal joint, which is at the base of the thumb—causing pain, stiffness, and movement difficulties. The severity of the disease is rated using an international system known as the Eaton classification, consisting of five stages (from 0 to 4). Suffering from this condition, even in the early stage, can be highly disabling, as it can severely limit the daily activities such as writing, unscrew caps, or turn the key in the lock.
Rhizarthrosis: how to counteract and prevent It?
Genetic predisposition plays a crucial role in the onset of arthrosis, as well as the type of diet and lifestyle, which can cause different level of stress to the joints on the daily life. In fact, some work categories are more at risk because they use their hands (particularly the thumb) for repetitive, and often quick movements, over the years like chefs, hairstylists, musicians, and generally people doing manual works. In fact, rhizarthrosis mainly affects women from the age of 50.
When rhizarthrosis reaches an advanced stage, it is advisable to consult an orthopedic or hand specialized surgeon. Through X-rays and an examination, the most suitable therapy can be advised. It can range from conservative and minimally invasive methods—such as using a customized brace to maintain the thumb in the correct position—to more severe interventions, including surgery. However, a good nutrition can make the difference and avoid the disease reaching that stage of severity.
A good diet is indeed one of the most important allies against arthrosis. Like for diabetes or celiac disease, arthrosis can be treated even before it appears with a simple and natural solution: follow a healthy dietary plan and avoid bad food.
Rhizarthrosis and Diet
A specific diet foods responsible for cartilage inflammation can slow down the degeneration and consequently, the progression of the arthrotic disease. But what are the foods to avoid and include in one's diet?
Among the worst enemies for those suffering from osteoarthritis are fatty acids, which reduce the body's ability to produce synovial fluid—necessary for joint lubrication. Foods with high saturated fat content should be avoided, such as red meat, whole milk, or highly aged cheeses, as they also contribute to elevated cholesterol levels. Other "no" foods for rhizarthrosis include alcoholic beverages, salt, fried foods, and sugary items (including drinks), which not only raise blood sugar but also lead to weight gain.
So far, we've identified foods that we wouldn't have difficulty recognizing as "dangerous" for our diet and health, but there are also harmless and even healthy foods that individuals with osteoarthritis should still avoid. For example, citrus fruits, which are too acidic, and vegetables from the nightshade family (tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, bell peppers) worsen arthritic symptoms.
For those suffering from osteoarthritis, certain nutrients are crucial: calcium, essential for bone and cartilage formation and maintenance; vitamin C, which improves collagen synthesis; and omega-3 fatty acids, essential fats that the body cannot synthesize and which can reduce inflammation and joint pain.
Supplement Rich in Omega-3 for Rhizarthrosis - Algosfree
Therefore, among the foods to prioritize are whole grains and cereals, rich in fiber and vitamins; legumes that provide the right amount of protein and calcium; fatty fish (like sardines, anchovies, and mackerel) rich in omega-3s; and seasonal fruits and vegetables, particularly berries rich in vitamin C.
Vitamin D: Is It Beneficial for Rhizarthrosis?
Among all the elements useful in combating osteoarthritis and rhizarthrosis, there's one in particular that can make a difference: vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for bone health as it aids in the deposition of calcium and phosphorus, the main components of bones. But its benefits don't stop there: this vitamin offers an anti-inflammatory effect crucialfor countering joint inflammation. Moreover, it benefits muscle function, the immune system, and blood glucose balance.
Vitamin D can be obtained through diet or exposure to sunlight. Regarding diet, it's commonly believed that vitamin D—much like calcium—is predominantly found in milk and its derivatives, but this isn't entirely accurate. The pasteurization process of milk and cheeses almost entirely destroys their beneficial components, including vitamins. Moreover, these foods are rich in saturated fats and cholesterol. It's better to prefer fatty fish, legumes, and dark, leafy vegetables like chard, chicory, kale, and broccoli.
Sunlight allows the skin to naturally produce vitamin D, along with providing a general sense of well-being. Sun warmth, our great ally, can aid finger joint function, alleviate pain, and reduce stiffness. However, it's important to moderate and protect sun exposure to avoid skin and immune system damage. Therefore, it's important to strike the right balance between sun exposure and protecting the skin from harmful rays..
But how can we ensure the right amount of vitamin D to prevent rhizarthrosis?
For those living in areas with low sun exposure or during the winter months, obtaining enough vitamin D through natural sunlight can be difficult. In such cases, vitamin D supplements, available at pharmacies, can be used. Nevertheless, it's important to consult with a doctor to determine whether dietary supplementation with vitamin D is necessary, as excessive intake can be harmful to health. Generally, the recommended dose varies based on age, weight, and the individual's health status.
In summary, for those suffering from rhizarthrosis, consulting a medical professional is essential. The specialist can identify the most appropriate treatments to manage their specific situation, helping them cope with rhizarthrosis and aiming for optimal hand function recovery.