The Horrors of Arthritis
It’s thought to believe that Arthritis is a disease that only affects the elderly. This myth is far from the truth. In fact over half the people who suffer from arthritis are under the age of 65 and over 250,000 of them are young children under the age of 16.
According to statistics this illness is the main cause of disability. Studies have shown that it ranks higher than heart attacks, strokes and even cancer.
In fact over 992,000 people are hospitalized each year as a result of this horrific disease. Further statistics predict that by the year 2030 over 65 million people will have some form of this crippling disease.
So exactly what is arthritis? What can we do to help prevent this disease from happening to us? What type of treatments options are available for people who suffer with this crippling disorder? I will discuss all of these things and more in the following paragraphs.
Meet the Arthritis Family
There are three basic types of arthritis they are: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Juvenile Arthritis. I will explain a little bit about each one of these categories in the following paragraphs.
The first is Osteoarthritis (OA) it’s a degenerative joint disease. This illness gradually breaks down the cartilage in your joints and over time the sufferer will find that even the simplest household tasks are terrible painful if not impossible for them to carry out.
The next one is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) People who’s been diagnosed with this autoimmune disease will often experience extreme pain, inflammation, stiffness and swelling in and around their affected joints.
They will often find that the affected joints will feel warm to the touch. This type of arthritis not only causes a lot of damage to your joints it will eventually result in loss of mobility in the areas it affects.
Although the cause remains unknown doctors do know that for some unexplainable reason a person’s own autoimmune system attacks and destroys its own cartridge, joints, muscles and surrounding tissues. This is why this type of arthritis is classified as an auto immune disease.
Lastly is Juvenile Arthritis. This type of arthritis is actually a general term given to cover several different types of autoimmune diseases found in children under the age of 16.
Like Adult RA this type of arthritis attacks their own joints and cartage and over time can cause damage that’s so severe the joint will become immobile. This type of arthritis is shown to affect more girls than boys for some unexplained reason.
The Arthritis Armor
There are four things that we can do to prevent this disease from happening. They include exercising, eating right, proper weight management and protecting our joints.
Maintaining a healthy weight seems to play a major role in the prevention and treatment of arthritis. In fact studies have proven that every pound of excess weight you force your body carry, adds a little more pressure on your bones, joints and cartilage.
Over time this additional pressure and stress will cause severe joint damage which will eventually cause arthritis to develop in these areas. This is one of the many reasons why doctors strongly suggest people maintain a healthy weight.
Protecting your joints is another way to defend yourself against arthritis. There are several ways to do this. Warming up before you exercise and cooling down afterwards are two suggestions.
My last two recommendations is to make sure you always wear the proper foot ware for that specific activity and don’t overdo it when you work out.
Years ago people thought activity increased your chances of getting arthritis, but research has recently proven this myth is incorrect.
In fact one study conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services showed that exercise in moderation has proven to have great benefits for people who suffer with either rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoarthritis.
When we exercise we’re improving the joint movements, and flexibility. Staying active not only improves our mobility, it helps us to maintain a proper weight. In addition it helps our cartilage receive the essential nutrients needed for our joints.
See when we move that puts pressure on the cartilage, the cartilage will then release important nutrients to the joints.
When the pressures released our body replenish the cartilage with essential nutrients for it to store up for the next bit of movement that we do.
If we don’t eat correctly our body’s unable to supply the cartilage with these essential nutrition and that causes our joints and cartilage to suffer.
Rules of Defense
Although it’s important to exercise regularly we do need to take a few precautions. I’ve listed a few of these in the following paragraphs. We should never push our bodies past its limits.
I know you’ve probable been told over and over no pain, no gain, but further research has proven that this theory’s extremely harmful.
Studies now conclude that pushing yourself to hard is far more damaging to your body than not exercising at all.
The personal trainers are now recommending to start slow and give your body time to adjust to the healthier lifestyle. This is not only good for your heart and lungs it’s good for your bones, joints, muscles and ligaments as well.
Coaches also recommend not to repeat the same type of exercise routine every single day. They say that by doing specific set of exercises you’ll overwork some of your body’s muscles while neglecting other ones that are just as important in your day to day functions.
They further conclude that by changing up your exercise routine you’ll find it more interesting and are more likely to stick with this exercise regimen.
Don’t exercise every day. Even the leading trainers will tell you to take a day or two off every week. Otherwise all that hard work that you’ve put into staying healthy will only harm your body, not help it.
Lastly, doctors strongly suggest that people suffering with RA shouldn’t exercises the 2-3 days during their RA flare ups. They believe that not only will exercising during this period be extremely painful, it will damage the already compromised cartilage and joints.
Now that we’ve covered the don’ts here are a few things you should do. When walking standing, running, bicycling, or any other type of activity, always make sure you wear the correct shoes.
Incorrect foot wear will not only jar your back out-of-place it will put excessive stress on your bones, joints and muscles.
If you are starting a new exercise routine make sure you know how to execute the activity properly. Doing them incorrectly can cause muscle damage, torn ligaments and tendons. Which could take a painfully long time to heal.
Always make sure to warm up your muscles. Exercising cold stiff muscles will leave you muscles sore afterwards. It can also result in torn muscles ligaments and tendons.
In addition when you warm up beforehand you’ll receive the full workout benefits. Instead of stopping abruptly, you should create an exercise routine that has a cool down period at the end.
Because suddenly stopping any type of activity will increase chances of injury. Not to mention the possibility of sore stiff muscles.
See as you cool down your body removes the lactic acid that’s associated with these exercising discomforts.
High impact exercise are good for you in moderation, If they’re done constantly it can create more stress than your body can handle and in time this will cause damage on your joints. So please limit your high impact activities to only a few times a week.
Exercise Your Way to Relief
The following is a few exercises recommended by several of the leading arthritis foundations around the world.
They first suggest that everyone should consult with their family doctor, before starting any type of exercise regimen. Some of their suggested are; Pilates, Tai Chi, Zumba, Qi gong, chair sit ups, stretching, elliptical training, swimming, weight lifting, hand stretches, bicycling, station bicycling, hip exercises, suspension trading, gardening, yoga and walking.
Remember to always do these exercises correctly with the appropriate foot wear. Never push yourself too hard or do too much too soon.
Eating the correct foods will not only helps alleviate some of the pain associated with arthritis, it will also slow down how quickly the disease progresses.
Doctors suggest eating three health well-balanced meals every day. It’s also recommended to include extra helpings of certain foods. Since they’ve proven to have additional benefits for the arthritis suffers.
Some of the recommended vegetables they suggest include; carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, butternut squash, turnip greens, pumpkin, corn, mustard greens, spinach, winter squash, onions, broccoli, rhubarb.
Some of the suggested fruits that’s include in this list are; cantaloupe, apricot, papaya, oranges, apricot, watermelon, persimmons, all the grapes, apples, plums cherries and all the berries.
These foods contain vitamin c, beta carotene and antitoxin. All of these are known to help relieve some of the symptoms associated with arthritis. Some additional foods I’d like to also mention are; omega 3, fish, whole grain olive oil and Mediterranean staple foods. They too have proven useful for many of the arthritic patients.
So long Bake Goods, So Long
Doctors suggest avoiding certain foods that are known to cause swelling and inflammation. This list of foods includes: saturated fats found in all fatty meats, in milk and all dairy products.
Regular cooking oil and canola oil also contains saturated fats. So you should avoid them at all cost. A good alternative would be virgin olive oil.
Not only is this healthier it will improve the taste of your food. When you’re choosing grocery items make sure you read the labels carefully.
Be especially cautious of the processed foods like crackers, candies, nondairy creamers and cookies. They often contain a lot of saturated fat.
Be careful when you’re eating store-bought baked goods because the manufacture often uses ingredients containing Tran’s fats to keep their product fresher, for a longer amount of time.
Which in turn extend the foods shelf life and increases the manufactures profit. Try to limit your intake on the complex carbohydrates and baked goods. Both granulated sugar and flour has been proven to cause inflammation.
Pain, Pain Go Away
There are several over the counter medicines you can take to help alleviate the pain. Some of them include; Non Steroid anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS) Acetaminophen, and varies topical creams.
The first I’ll discuss is NSAIDS. This includes medicines like; ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. This group reduces your body’s production of prostaglandins, the chemical responsible for the pain and inflammation. These medicines also reduce swelling.
People who has a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, stomach bleeds and kidney disease needs to consult a doctor before they begin taking them. Because these type of medicine have been known to worsen these conditions.
Another OTC medicine you can take is acetaminophen. One example of this is Tylenol. Although it doesn’t reduce swelling it does relieve some of the pain associated with arthritis.
Do not exceed the recommended dosage on the package and use extreme caution when taking with alcohol. This combination’s known to cause severe damage to the liver.
There is topical creams you can apply to the affected area that will help relieve pain. They don’ have the possible side effects that pills has.
Some of them include; Mentholated rubs, Diclofenac gel, Pennsaid and Capsaicin cream. Please use caution if you use both orally and topically NSAIDS. The combination can cause the harmful side effects I’ve mentioned above.
There are a few herbal remedies on the market some of them include glucosamine, chondroitin, cetyl myristoleate, feverfew, Chinese Thunder God Vine, willow bark extract, cat’s claw, sadenosylmethionine(SAMe) stinging nettle, magne and borage seed oil
Although many have found pain relief with these products, doctors don’t recommend them because they haven’t been approved by the FDA. So if you chose these products study up on uses, drug reactions and side effects before you begin taking them. Be sure to consult with your doctor, beforehand.
Some like it Hot, Some like it Cold
Cold compresses often help reduce the swelling, which in turn will reduce the pain associated with arthritis.
When you use a cold compress you should leave it on for fifteen minutes, and then remove it for half an hour before reapplying to the same area again.
Some people seem to have more relief with warm moist heat. There are several different ways you can do this. One way is to use a damp cloth warmed in a microwave.
Don’t leave the material in for too long and check to make sure it isn’t too hot before applying to the affected joint.
Of course you can use heating pads and hot water bottles. Again make sure they aren’t too warm and always use a cloth between you and the hot water bottle.
An alternative to the above mentioned would be a hot shower, or bath. Don’t make the water so hot that it will burn you. Don’t stay in too long, because the heat constricts blood vessels which slow your body’s blood flow.
This can leave you feeling dizzy and light-headed. A result from the sudden drop in blood pressure. Some arthritic patients choose things like; muscle relaxation, deep breathing, meditation, and physical therapy. While others finds the tens unit’s helpful.
When you use the tens unit a technician will place electrodes around the affected area. They will then send electrical impulses to the affected joints.
This electrical current will relieve pain and swelling associated with arthritis. Some find pain relief when they go to a chiropractor. They can choose either acupuncture treatments, or to help relieve some of the muscle spasms they experience with this dreadful disease.
Doctors often prescribe assistive devices to arthritic patients. These items can often help alleviate some of the weight the joint has to carry, which in turn will relieve some of the pressure and pain on the affected joints. Some of these devices would include; shoe inserts, canes, splints and knee braces.
The Truth and Only the Truth
This disabling disease can affect anyone of us at any age. According to studies improper eating, lack of exercise and being overweight are some of the contributing factors associated with this disease.
If we are suffering with this crippling illness there are things we can do. We can start by eating healthy including foods high in vitamin c, beta carotene, antitoxin and vitamin d.
We should avoid foods high in saturated fats, Tran’s fats sugary and floury foods. We should also minimize our consumption of processed foods and store bought bakery items.
We can follow our healthy eating with an appropriate exercises program. This will not only keep our joints flexible it will help us maintain a healthy weight and supply our cartilage with essential nutrients.
By following these suggestions with the appropriate pain management program, arthritic patients will be able to live a happier healthier life.