Arthritis is a painful debilitating disease that, by definition, is characterized by inflammation of the joints. It is seen more in female and elderly populations.
Nearly every adult, at one point in their life, has had both joint pains as well as incidents involving inflammation. Inflammation in itself is a normal process that facilitates healing, during which the blood delivers essential enzymes, nutrients, and materials designed to help repair the body. Everyone has also had an off-day during which joints and muscles just hurt. It’s a fairly common condition. In some studies, over one-third of Americans have reported joint pains, from mild to severe, within the period of a month.
When joint pains become frequent, searing and debilitating, you may have a condition called arthritis. There are several types of arthritis. The two main ones are osteoarthritis, due to wear-and-tear of the joint resulting in bone-on-bone contact, and rheumatoid arthritis, an auto-immune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy joint capsule lining. Less common, though not rare, is gout when when uric acid crystals are present in the joint. Infectious arthritis is arthritis caused by bacterial infection elsewhere in the body. Psoriatic arthritis is arthritis that has developed from psoriasis.
The signs and symptoms common to all types of arthritis include:
In advanced cases, muscle weakness & stiffness and poor aerobic health may also accompany arthritis due to diminished levels of physical activities. Arthritis may inflame joints to the point where common motion becomes painful. Depression, as well as other psychological problems may also appear.
Another complication of rheumatoid arthritis is lupus, a collagen vascular (or blood vessel) disorder that also involves skin rashes, sensitivity to light, hair loss, kidney problems, lung fibrosis, and constant joint pain.
Since we all rely on our joints for movement and daily activity, a diagnosis of arthritis may result in a drastic decrease in quality of life, as well as other medical complications. Certain factors can’t be helped, such as heredity or accidents. Others, such as excessive alcoholism, smoking, and obesity can. Consult with your physician and other health resources, and look below for the tips to prevent and manage arthritis today.
How It’s Diagnosed
If you are developing the signs and symptoms of arthritis and would like confirmation, visit your physician. They’ll review your medical history, as well as run a few tests to diagnose the type of arthritis believed to be the source of your pains.
Physicians commonly order blood and urine tests, as well check joint fluid in a process called aspiration,to check for levels of certain markers. The most common tests are erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP). Both tests measure the degree of inflammation and often are used to monitor the disease’s progression.
If they believe you have rheumatoid arthritis, they may also check for antibody levels that bind to citruline-modified proteins in the anti-CCP antibody test. This test also strongly indicates whether or not certain patients will develop severe arthritis.
X-rays, CT scans, MRI and ultrasounds may be ordered to visualize and detect the cause of your joint pains, as well as monitor the disease’s progression.
Another test physicians may perform is arthroscopy. In this procedure, the physician will make a small incision near the suspected site and insert a small flexible tube with a camera to see your joint from the inside.
Since inflammation is what characterizes arthritis, eat foods that decrease inflammation, and avoid those that cause it. Restricting calories to encourage a healthy body weight is also encouraged because the decrease in mass generally means less pressure on your joints. The following lists a few helpful suggestions on foods to eat and avoid.
Add these foods to your diet:
Eliminate these foods from your diet:
Living with Arthritis
Living with arthritis can be difficult. It can also be difficult to find pertinent information on your arthritis due to the variation in the types of arthritis you can develop. A few changes to your daily habits however can go a long way. Although there are no catch-all methods to help relieve arthritis due to the variety of types and location, the following will list a few helpful suggestions for dealing with your disease.
Work out and keep fit. Exercise has been shown to be the best way to relieve pain and improve your day-to-day life. Exercise has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect among other benefits. Remember to exercise to the best of your abilities and avoid over-exerting yourself, working on strength, flexibility and endurance. You should exercise at least 30 minutes every day, slowly build up and then cool down. Stretch before and after sessions. Also, it is important to ask your physician about exercises pertaining to your specific needs.
Protect your joints. Since arthritis is a condition that affects the joints, protecting them is essential to prevention and managing pain. When involved in contact sports or activities that have an inherent risk of impact, wear knee and elbow pads. Stretch before and after exercise. Exercise regularly to help you get in tune with you body and increase proprioception, or body awareness.
Relax. Since arthritis is a chronic condition, finding ways to relax and take your mind off of the pain may help improve psychological health, as well as decrease stress, which in turn, may lower overall cortical levels.Catch up on the books that you’ve always wanted to read, pick up a low-impact hobby, meditate or pick up yoga or tai-chi.
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. However, some studies have shown that low-to-moderate uses of alcohol have been found to relive symptoms, as well as cut the risk of developing certain types of arthritis. However, overindulgence will make symptoms worse. Alcohol abuse increases the incidence of chronic inflammation, developing cardiovascular and peripheral vascular disease and the risk of developing gout among other issues.
Quit Smoking. Smoking increases the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. If you’ve already developed arthritis, smoking makes managing pain hard, worsening your symptoms. They include exacerbating rheumatoid nodules or increasing cartilage loss in men with knee osteoarthritis, and can greatly cut the likelihood of remission. Smoking also increases risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, which in turn will affect arthritis and overall health.
Prevent falling. Arthritis puts you at a greater risk of falling and developing debilitating bone fractures. Exercise is a great way to get in touch with your body and increase awareness. Other measures around the house include: Minimizing clutter; clearing loose cords and quickly cleaning up spills; installing grab bars & non-skid tape in your home; keeping areas well-lit; making sure carpets, bars, and other supporting objects are secure; supporting yourself when getting up or going down; wearing sturdy rubber-matted shoes.
Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity already increases the risk of developing several diseases. However, when it comes to arthritis… especially arthritis of the lower extremities… obesity can be a killer. It increases the pressure on your sensitive joints and increase friction and inflammation. Maintain a healthy figure by working out regularly, avoiding foods detrimental to your body and arthritis such as red meat and glutens, and choosing a natural well-rounded diet high in fresh fruits, vegetables, ad fiber.
Other Things to Consider
Tea. Although natural tea can confer many benefits to the drinker, certain studies have shown that women over 50 increase their risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Light drinking reduces the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Alcohol consumption should ALWAYS be done in moderation. If you are at risk or belong to an at-risk population of developing alcoholism, you should avoid alcohol use. However, frequent consumption of low-to-moderate levels of alcohols such as red wine, has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect, reducing the risk of developing ACPA rheumatoid arthritis. Alcohol consumption of around 4 drinks per week is recommended by some physicians. Avoid over-indulgence or use if alcohol triggers an allergic/inflammatory response.
Note: The positive effects of alcohol are only believed to be relevant to people who have tested positive for anti-citrulllinated protein antibodies.
It’s in the shoes. Those who’ve developed arthritis in the feet or ankles might be relieved to hear that the proper choice of footwear can relieve symptoms. Sometimes, those with rheumatoid arthritis or gout can develop deformities of the feet. Non-tie shoes and box-shaped shoes might be helpful to relieve pressure from your toes. Running shoes for those with moderate symptoms are considered superior due to their arch support and their lightweight. Consult with your physician for shoes for the correct type of shoe to help you get back on your feet.
Top Supplements for Arthritic Relief
While physicians don’t recommend throwing away your pill bottles just yet, these natural remedies can go a long way in managing the symptoms of your arthritis. The following lists supplements that have been thought to improve function and relieve pain, making day-to-day living easier.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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