Controlling Arthritis Instead of letting it Control You
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is inflammation in an area that is in or around a joint. The inflammation causes bones to ache, stiffness, tenderness, redness, swelling, warmth, and in some cases, difficulty moving. This disease is quite common and is a primary reason for lost work time and serious disability for millions of Americans. There are other kinds of arthritis that affect different parts of the body such as the internal organs and the skin.
Types of Arthritis
There are over 100 different types of this disease. The most familiar types include:
Gout, which occurs when the body cannot remove the natural substance called uric acid. Excess amounts of uric acid forms needle-like crystals in the joints, usually of the wrist, big toe, and the knee. The symptoms of gout include severe inflammation and pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can affect joints in every part of the body except the lower. It usually occurs in the hands, wrists, knees, and the feet. RA is a person’s immune system attacking itself and causing the lining of the joints to swell. Inflammation then spreads to nearby tissues, and can, in the long run, damage cartilage and bone.
Osteoarthritis (also called degenerative joint disease) is when the cartilage that covers the end of the bones wears away. Without the protection of cartilage, the bones rub against each other creating friction and subsequent pain and swelling. Osteoarthritis, the most typical form of arthritis can affect any joint, but usually involves the hands and the weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips and spine.
Treatment Strategies for Arthritis
The goal of arthritis treatment is to:
- Provide pain relief
- Control inflammation
- Increase joint mobility and strength
Treatment options include:
- Medications (for the particular arthritis that you have, and to ease discomfort)
- Exercising regularly. Low-impact exercise strengthens joints and muscles, and also increases range of motion.
- Heat/cold compresses
- Eating well – Add foods to your healthy diet (fruits, vegetables and whole grains) that contain omega-3s, for example, salmon and olive. These foods have anti-inflammatory effects.
- Physical therapy (for specific arthritis that you have)
- Adequate amounts of sleep help your body to regenerate and repair itself.
- Stress management. Stress tends to increase RA symptoms, so utilize some of the numerous stress management techniques (deep breathing, meditation, journaling, etc.)
These additions to your lifestyle can help you keep arthritis symptoms under control.