Inflammation often gets a bad rap; however, when working in tandem with the body’s natural design, it can provide support against irritation, cell damage and pathogenic activity. But not all inflammation is created equal—as evidenced by its potential effects in joint health.
In a peer-reviewed study, Garry Egger, Ph.D., MPH, wrote, “For more than 2,000 years, classical inflammation has been recognized by the symptoms identified by the Roman physician Aurelius Celsus as pain (dolor), redness (rubor), heat (calor) and swelling (tumor), with the more recent addition of loss of function (torpor)” (Prev Chronic Dis. 2012;9:110301).
He noted inflammation is typically a short-term response to infection and injury that helps the body heal and return to homeostasis. “However, in 1993, researchers discovered a different type of prolonged, dysregulated and maladaptive inflammatory response associated with obesity,” Egger shared. This “metainflammation” differs from classical inflammation in many ways, some of which include being persistent; resulting in chronic, rather than acute, allostasis (the body’s response to stressors while trying to regain homeostasis); having systemic vs. local effects; and appearing to perpetuate rather than resolve disease.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common chronic condition of the joints (arthritis.org, 2018;2:4100.17.10445). Initially associated with the deterioration of cartilage, OA can affect any joint, but occurs most often in knees, hips, lower back and neck, small joints of the fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe. As OA progresses, “In the body, an inflammatory process occurs and cytokines (proteins) and enzymes develop that further damage the cartilage,” the foundation explained.
OA affects more than 30 million Americans, and an estimated 91.2 million adults have either been medically diagnosed with some form of arthritis and/or report joint symptoms consistent with it.
From over-the-counter (OTC) ibuprofen and aspirin to a wide variety of prescription brands, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are widely used as an initial therapy for common inflammation. However, many health complications and fatalities attributed to NSAID use in arthritis patients are reported annually in the United States (Nutrition Digest. 2011;35).
Fortunately, a host of researched ingredients is at the ready for consumers desiring alternatives to traditional NSAIDs.
To continue reading this article about inflammation in joint health and the wide range of clinically studied ingredients available to formulators, check out INSIDER’s Joint Health Digital Magazine.