Unlike rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is an autoimmune disease, osteoarthritis is a result of changes in certain natural processes usually triggered by injury or wear and tear to the joint which lead to the breakdown and degradation of cartilage around the joint. This process worsens when certain nutrients are missing in the diet or the body's inability to digest or absorb such nutrients is reduced. Some of the leading causes of osteoarthritis and its progression are:
It is important to note that, regardless of the cause of osteoarthritis, the metabolic processes of this disease are the same in everyone largely because the body relies on the intake of nutrients to help maintain proper joint health. When this does not occur or when there is joint injury or trauma, cells in the damaged joint release excess phospholipids from their membranes which are converted into arachidonic acid (AA) in the joint tissue. AA is an essential fatty acid produced by the body that plays important roles in helping to regulate functions of the body. However, when joints produce excess AA, two types of enzymes, cyclo-oxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX) convert this excess acid into powerful inflammatory chemical irritants known as prostaglandins (PGE) and leukotrienes (LTB). In osteoarthritis, excessive production of AA leads to the conversion of excessive PGE's and LTB's which can both cause damage to the joints and cause other metabolic imbalances in the body. Because people with osteoarthritis have this specific metabolic imbalance, they have distinctive nutritional requirements which cannot be satisfied by changes in the diet alone.