Tribology and Lubrication Technology January 2014 : Page 6
FROM THE EDITOR Evan Zabawski It’s not to say that all of our joint problems can be alleviated by processing various creatures from the ocean. Knee lubricant? Sounds ﬁshy… Promoting healthy joints naturally. THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN OUR BONES ARE CALLED JOINTS. Joints are what allow us to bend, turn, wiggle and wave. Our joints are cushioned with tissue called cartilage and synovium (or synovial membrane) and a thick, colorless lubricant called synovial ﬂuid. The word synovia was coined by Paracel-sus, a Swiss German Renaissance physician, who founded the discipline of toxicology, named zinc and also coined the terms gas, chemistry and alcohol. Synovia may have been derived from the Greek word syn , mean-ing with, and ovum , the Latin word for egg, because of synovial ﬂuid’s likeness to albu-men or egg white. Synovial ﬂuid is a bit like Silly Putty, with thixotropic and elastic (instantaneous dilat-ant) properties. Its viscosity decreases with an increase in the rate of movement, but it is pressure-resistant under sudden impact. Due to its viscoelastic properties and afﬁnity to the cartilage surfaces, normally it cannot be squeezed out. Synovial ﬂuid alone is not sufﬁcient for maintaining efﬁcient lubrication. The resil-iency and the time-dependent and stress-dependent elasticity of cartilage is also a factor. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage de-generates or disappears, and the synovial ﬂuid undergoes mechanochemical degrada-tion and may become Newtonian, thereby losing its load-carrying capacity at all rates 6 of movement and is able to be squeezed out. When synovial ﬂuid is reduced, or no longer functions optimally, the friction within the joint causes inﬂammation in the form of sen-sory pain. The cells of both the synovial membrane and ﬂuid require ﬁrst a sugar (glucose) and second, a protein (amine) for cell metabo-lism. As such, they are nourished with a natu-rally occurring chemical called glucosamine sulphate. The ﬁrst published study about glucosamine was done in 1969 in Germany, but a later study in 1980 emphasized the im-portance of a sufﬁcient supply for the joints. It was this later study that also noted that “NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inﬂammatory Drugs) and cortico-steroids inhibit this syn-thesis.” The term NSAID will be familiar to those who read the labels on drugs such as aspirin, Motrin and Advil. A better method for improving joint lubri-cation is to control inﬂammation by using natural anti-inﬂammatories such as essen-tial fatty acids (EFAs) and antioxidants such as omega-3 oils. A key omega-3 EFA called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), found in salm-on, herring, sardine and tuna oil, inhibits a type of prostaglandin hormone. Prostaglan-dins cause inﬂammation, pain and fever as part of the healing process. Glucosamine sulphate can also be taken as a supplement, as it stimulates the regen-eration of damaged cartilage. The glucos-amine is isolated chemically from chitin, which is a major component of the exoskele-ton of different types of invertebrates (e.g., shellﬁsh such as lobsters, shrimp and crabs). It’s not to say that all of our joint prob-lems can be alleviated by processing various creatures from the ocean. There are some preventive measures as well. Knees, hips and back joints are all weight-bearing, so keeping your weight within a healthy range will re-duce the friction and wear of these joints. Aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce joint inﬂammation and low-impact exercises like cycling and swimming will not compound the problem. Mobility plays a major role as well. Our bodies are designed to move and being glued to the couch or an ofﬁce chair increases the risk of joint pain. Taking frequent breaks to stretch or go for a short walk greatly reduces stiffness, and correct posture also reduces joint stress. Lastly, maintain muscle strength, as muscles support joints so they don’t have to do all the work. Evan Zabawski, CLS, is a reliability specialist in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. You can reach him at evan. firstname.lastname@example.org. “Advanced Filters & Filtration,” an STLE University Webinar by John Duchowski (HYDAC), Jan. 22, noon-1 p.m. CST. Register at www.stle.org.
From the Editor
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