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Arthritis Facts
All About Arthritis

All About Arthritis

Let's discuss some facts about arthritis, since this condition is one that affects so many Americans. It seems important these days to explore the natural alternatives available to individuals who suffer from arthritis. Recent news reports about the problems with anti-inflammatory drugs make this topic very relevant. 

Arthritis is a general term that means inflammation in the joints. There are many diseases that can cause joint inflammation (probably more than 100), so we will limit our discussion to general information regarding this problem. Typically, symptoms are that of pain and stiffness in one or more joints. Which joints get involved and to what extent may depend on the type of arthritis one has. 

The number of people suffering from arthritis is skyrocketing. The National Health Interview Survey of 2002 reported that 43 million Americans had been told by their health care professional they had some form of arthritis. It has been estimated that by 2005 this number will exceed 60 million. 

Reasons For Increasing Number Of Sufferers
  • We are living longer--Modern medicine has done wonders in extending the life span over the past century. However, with the baby boomers approaching the retirement age we also see the common ailments associated with aging to be on the rise.
  • Obesity has become an epidemic!--Obesity is defined as a body weight of more than 20% above the average for age, height, and bone structure. It places a heightened strain on bones and joints, causing great wear and tear on joint bones, cartilage, muscles and tendons.
  • General inactivity and lack of exercise in our daily routines. Close to half of arthritis sufferers say they had little or no physical activity. Only a third of individuals who don't exercise regularly have no arthritis symptoms. Regular exercise seems to correlate with reduced arthritis symptoms.

Main Types Of Arthritis
In general, types of arthritis are classified as those with or without inflammation.

With inflammation the signs are usually redness, pain, swelling and warmth of the joints. There may also be other general body symptoms that comes with inflammation, such as fever, weight loss, abnormal laboratory tests indicating inflammation, and morning stiffness that is very slow to clear. These types of arthritis are generally more serious, and can be due to joint infection, acute gout, or rheumatoid arthritis (to name a few). 

Non-inflammatory arthritis is more common and osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease in humans. It is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. 

National statistics reported by the CDC show the following:
Type of Arthritis Number of Adults Affected (in millions)
Osteoarthritis 21 
Gouty Arthritis 5.1
Fibromyalgia 3.7
Rheumatoid Arthritis 2.1

What Can Make Arthritis Better
  • Reduce joint loading—stress on joints needs to be minimized. If you are overweight, start a weight loss program now. Believe me I know how hard that is! But take heart. Statistics show that losing even 11 lbs. can reduce the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis by as much as 50%.
  • If you already have arthritis, avoid prolonged standing, kneeling and squatting. It’s hard on the joints, and hurts damaged hips and knees. Sometimes a wedged shoe insole can help knee pain.
  • Brief rest periods may also help the joint pains, and reduces joint loads.
  • Heat can reduce pain and stiffness. Occasionally pain reduction is achieved with ice rather than heat.
  • Exercise! Usually the amount of exercise needed for cardiovascular fitness is not so great that people with arthritis cannot accomplish this. For example walking for 20 minutes at least 3 times a week can often be done by people with arthritis. Studies have shown that exercising at a moderate rate 3 times a week will reduce arthritis-related disability by 47%. Start slow and build up gradually. If your arthritis is severe talk to your doctor before starting.
Consider a self-help course that teaches you how to live with arthritis and educates you about arthritis. For more information on Self Help Programs go to: http://www.arthritistoday.org/fitness/index.php

Drug Options
Chronic osteoarthritis is often all about pain and pain management. Unfortunately, recent findings have come to light that implicate the so called COX-2 selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in serious complications of an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. Even other types of NSAIDs, including over the counter brands are now possibly suspect. 

All of the NSAID medications do carry a risk of causing gastrointestinal bleeding and ulceration. This risk increases with age, length and dosage of NSAID use, other medicine (like blood thinners), use of alcohol and possibly smoking. 

In other forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid and gouty arthritis, medications specifically designed to reduce joint inflammation and preserve the structure of the joint may be used and may be necessary. Obviously an acute arthritis caused by an infectious agent needs immediate attention, testing to determine the offending agent, and prompt treatment. 

Talk to your doctor about your arthritis symptoms, what type of arthritis you have, and what’s best for you. 

Natural Alternatives
Cetyl myristoleate(CM) is a natural compound that is a fatty acid ester. It appears stronger and longer lasting than other essential fatty acids (EFAs). The human body does not synthesize these EFAs, but they are vital to the normal functioning of tissue, including joints. Over an extended period of time taking fatty acids has been shown to decrease the pain, inflammation and joint limitations of arthritis. 

In 2001 a double-blind study was done on 86 osteoarthritis sufferers who had significant symptoms in 137 affected joints. The Unicity product CM Plex, a proprietary blend of cetyl myristate, cetyl myristoleate, and other cetyl esters was tested against a placebo in these individuals. Test subjects taking the CM Plex showed considerable decrease in pain, increase in joint mobility, and therefore better physical activity. More than 97% of the test group reported improvement. The Journal of Rheumatology concluded that CM Plex “may be an alternative to the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of osteoarthritis”. 

This natural alternative is not a “pain medication”. Don’t expect immediate relief, but over a period of time, which may vary from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, most do note improvement. It helps penetrate and hydrate joints, smoothing joint function. Dr. Louis Brady, himself an orthopedic surgeon reported he became symptom-free a week after starting CM Plex. He was able to maintain a rigorous schedule of surgery without back or hand pain. He has not taken NSAID medications in 3 years!
CM Plex comes in both a cream and softgel form. They can be used separately or together. Both forms of CM Plex are listed in the 2006 Physicians Desk Reference as indicated for the treatment of osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis).
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