One in three people are likely to get arthritis. Some may experience mild pain, while others may experience pain that is quite severe. Arthritis most commonly attacks the extremities. You are likely to feel joint pain in your fingers and feet. You may also experience joint pain in your hips, knees, and/or lower back.
Doctors still don’t know exactly what causes arthritis, but they do know that certain things are likely to aggravate it. Doing the same activity over and over again for years can cause chronic joint pain to develop. So can an injury. Sometimes, doctors believe, arthritis is simply hereditary — if your parents had it, you might get it, too.
Treatments for arthritis vary, but by far the most common is to take medication. Pain-killing drugs can give you some relief from symptoms by blocking pain receptors in your body. But when they wear off, you must take some more — and increase your chances of suffering prescription side effects.
Scientists have been searching for decades for a cure that will offer lasting relief from joint pain. Many times over the past years research has circled back to the issue of natural remedies. Are there alternative therapies that can help stop the symptoms of arthritis? Researchers at the Boston University Medical Center think the mystery of how to treat arthritis may actually be this simple: all you have to do is boost your intake of vitamin D.
The researchers began their study by noting that, throughout evolution, sunlight-produced vitamin D in the skin has been critically important for health. Vitamin D, known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is actually a hormone. Once it is produced in your skin or ingested from your diet, it is converted in your liver and kidneys to its biologically active form, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.
This hormone interacts with its receptor in the small intestine to increase the uptake of intestinal calcium and phosphate absorption for the maintenance of your skeleton throughout your life. Vitamin-D deficiency causes osteopenia and osteoporosis, increasing the risk of fracture. Essentially, every tissue and cell in your body has a vitamin-D receptor.
The researchers went on to conclude that vitamin-D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis and other serious medical conditions. They recommend, therefore, sensible sun exposure along with vitamin D supplementation of at least 2,000 IU/day for adults to maximize their health and help in the prevention of rheumatoid arthritis. Talk to your doctor about what dose of vitamin might be best for you and to see if you should have your levels checked.