Can osteoarthritis be reversed? Is osteoarthritis really an irreversible condition?

Published on: 2018/06/29

Dr. Diana Pinto, MS Biokinesiology (USA), Specialist in Sports Performance Nutrition


Osteoarthritis (OA) is also an irreversible, progressive disorder although the pattern of progression varies symptomatically amongst individuals. Pain is the most vital symptom and a diagnostic factor of osteoarthritis.

Other symptoms include  joint stiffness, swelling at joints,
crackling/grinding noise during joint movement and decreased function at the joint.

Interest Category

Osteoarthritis, Degenerative joint disease, Physiotherapy

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Can osteoarthritis be reversed?

Osteoarthritis is a common form of the degenerative joint disease, which causes disability in people over 50 years of age. It occurs when the cartilage breaks down resulting in pain, stiffness, and swelling.  As OA worsens over time, growths called spurs form owing to the breakdown of bones. In the final stages of OA, as the cartilage wears away, bone rubs each other leading to joint damage and more pain.

Let us look at the symptoms and other aspects to know more.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis

One of the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis is a pain in the affected joints due to regular use.  There are visible swelling and creaking of the affected joints. This is mainly caused due to longer periods of inactivity. It leads to pain and stiffness of the affected area. In some severe cases of osteoarthritis, friction between bones due to loss of cartilage causes pain and also limits movement.

Some patients find themselves being incapacitated by their symptoms. Symptoms need not be consistent. They may occur in episodes. Obesity, repeated Injuries or joint surgeries are some of the causes of osteoarthritis of the knees.

Can osteoarthritis be cured?

In the absence of any cure for osteoarthritis, the only remedy available seems to be to manage the symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and steroid shots can help in the reduction of inflammation. Sometimes, antidepressants are used to relieve persistent pain. A few lifestyle changes can help in reducing the pain, thereby improving movements in affected joints.

Can osteoarthritis be reversed through exercise?

Patients suffering from osteoarthritis will definitely find exercise to be their best bet. The amount and form of exercise prescribed will depend on the area, stability of the joints and whether they have already undergone joint replacement. Walking, swimming and water aerobics are a few exercises suggested for people with osteoarthritis. Giving the body rest in between exercise and relieving the joints from stress for short periods are helpful too.

Reversing osteoarthritis through diet

Maintaining a good diet greatly helps joint pains. Those suffering from osteoarthritis must include lots of fruits and vegetables in their diet. This helps in reducing inflammation and pain in joints. Deficiency of vitamin C has been shown to weaken cartilage, which in turn adversely affects the patient.

To prevent the breakdown of cartilage and reduce the risk of narrowing joint space, the diet must contain Vitamin D. Including beta-carotene in the diet acts as a powerful antioxidant. It helps to destroy free radicals that may cause damage to joints. Lack of omega -3s may lead to inflammation.

Can glucosamine reverse arthritis?

There has been a lot of research regarding the ability of glucosamine sulfate to improve the symptoms of or delay the onset of osteoarthritis in the last 20 years. A daily oral dose of 1,500 mg of glucosamine sulfate has been able to prevent the narrowing of joint space. This will lead to the reduction in the need for surgery in lower limbs by 50% during a 5-year period after the withdrawal of treatment.

The situation does look positive and hopeful for now.

Read more – Is osteoarthritis really an irreversible condition by Diana Pinto