Arthritis: What Is It What Causes It And How To Treat It
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, and is often blamed on wear and tear. Right now, there are millions of Americans with OA, and their joint pain, swelling and stiffness can become a chronic condition that is felt most commonly in the knees, hips, lower back and neck, but can also effect smaller joints of the feet and hands. This is why its so important to learn as much as possible about arthritis in order take steps to improve your OA now.
After treating many patients with joint pain due to OA, we routinely get questions about how to prevent and/or treat arthritis, and we wanted to answer those common queries so people would understand what causes OA and what can be done to minimize the impact of arthritis.
Strengthen Joints With Easy Exercises
Use Of Herbs Or Ayurveda
There are many herbs and other foods that can offer relief from neck arthritis. Some of them that has excellent anti-inflammatory properties are ginger, celery seeds, flax seeds, cayenne pepper, alfalfa leaves, olive oil, salmon fish and turmeric.
Moreover, adopting an Ayurvedic lifestyle can do wonders to your health and offer significant pain relief. Avoiding foods that cause flatulence, gentle massage with sesame oil, and doing certain breathing exercises can help to decrease pain and swelling.
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Take Control Of Your Health
Arthritis isnt an entirely preventable disease. Some of us are always going to be more susceptible to it than others. We may have a genetic pre-disposition, we may have to work at a desk all day, or we may simply be getting older.
Dont let this discourage you. There are so many ways you can take control of your own health and take steps to relieving your arthritis symptoms.
Maybe you havent developed arthritis yet, and maybe you never will. But these are still great tips and great measures you can take to keep your body healthy and functioning properly.
Eating well, exercising regularly, avoiding injury and visiting your doctor are all great ideas regardless of whether or not you think you might be developing arthritis. By following these steps, youll soon be well on your way to a healthier you.
What Is A Joint And How Does It Work
A joint is where two or more bones meet, such as in the fingers, knees, and shoulders. Joints hold bones in place and allow them to move freely within limits.
Most of the joints in our body are surrounded by a strong capsule. The capsule is filled with a thick fluid that helps to lubricate the joint. These capsules hold our bones in place. They do this with the help of ligaments. These are a bit like very strong elastic bands.
The ends of the bones within a joint are lined with cartilage. This is a smooth but tough layer of tissue that allows bones to glide over one another as you move.
If we want to move a bone, our brain gives a signal to the muscle, which then pulls a tendon, and this is attached to the bone. Muscles therefore have an important role in supporting a joint.
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Effects On Your Daily Life
- See a doctor or other relevant healthcare professional if youre unable to do everyday tasks due to joint or muscle pain.
- If youve lifted something heavy and hurt your back, for example, take some painkillers, apply some heat and try to stay active. If the pain doesnt ease after a couple of weeks or so, see a doctor.
Its important to see a doctor if you get any new symptoms or if you have any trouble with drugs youre taking.
If you have an appointment with a doctor, to help make sure you get the most out of it, you could take a list of questions with you and tick them off as they are discussed.
You could also keep a symptoms diary with details of how youre feeling in between appointments. Some people find that taking a friend or relative with them to an appointment can provide support and ensure that all important points are discussed.
How Do You Get Arthritis
Approximately 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, a sometimes-debilitating disease hallmarked by pain and stiffness in weight-bearing joints. We know that the wearing down of cushioning cartilage in our joints leads to arthritis, but how do you get arthritis in the first place? And is there anything you can do to stop it?
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, develops when cartilage between the joints degenerates. Without this natural cushioning, joints may become achy and stiff. If enough of the cartilage wears away, you can develop a bone-on-bone situation, which can be extremely painful. But how do you get arthritis? The medical community is not absolutely sure, but they are reasonably confident in the following risk factors:
1. Age. Experts believe that if we live long enough, we will all develop arthritis to some degree. The wear and tear of living can cause degeneration of cartilage in the joints. This is known as primary osteoarthritis.
2. A history of injuries. As you age, the injuries you have received throughout your life can contribute to the development of arthritis. An injured joint becomes vulnerable over time to cartilage degeneration.
3. Repetitive stress. If you type for a living, pound a hammer, swing a golf club, or subject any of your joints to similar repetitive strain, they can become more vulnerable to cartilage breakdown.
8. Gender. After age 50, more women then men are likely to develop osteoarthritis.
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Is It Truly Possible To Prevent Arthritis
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is also known as degenerative joint disease. It is experienced by 80% of people over 50 years of age and can begin in the teenage years. It brings with it pain, deformity and the tendency to limit joint movement throughout the body. Unfortunately, it usually does not announce its arrival. Rather, it comes on subtly, often with morning joint stiffness appearing as the initial symptom. From there, it progresses, becoming increasingly painful, especially with activity.
For many people, the assumption is that it is impossible to prevent arthritis of this kind. They feel that osteoarthritis is just a normal part of aging and that it goes hand in hand with normal wear and tear on the body. They also believe that nothing can be done about it.
What Foods Help Prevent Arthritis
There is no dietary cure for arthritis. Establishing healthy habits are your best bets for trying to prevent the disease. Maintaining a healthy diet is an important part of the plan. Try to eat foods that fight inflammation in our bodies and strengthen our bones.
The United States Department of Agriculture suggests eating fish that contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids. These include salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines. The Arthritis Foundation recommends eating these fish two or more times a week to reduce inflammation.
The Arthritis Foundation says berries provide arthritis-fighting power. It recommends eating:
The Arthritis Foundation also suggests eating pomegranate fruit because the tannins inside also minimize inflammation in our bodies.
Eating vegetables that lead to less inflammation can also help. Try adding regular servings of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and mushrooms to your diet. Leave the vegetable or corn oil in the pantry and instead use olive oil and canola oil. They both contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
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What Can You Do To Prevent Arthritis
Arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Some 23% of all adults in the U.S., more than 54 million people, have arthritis. The annual direct medical costs are at least $140 billion. The disease affects senior citizens, working-age adults and even children, with 300,000 children under the age of 18 diagnosed with the condition.
The pain from arthritis can make simple daily tasks, such as walking and opening doors, seem nearly impossible. It can also limit the type of job tasks working-age patients with arthritis can perform. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 8 million working-age adults report their arthritis limits their ability to work.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to try to prevent the pain and limited range of motion arthritis can cause.
Does Arthritis Affect Women More Often Than Men
Arthritis does affect women more frequently than men. More than 46 million Americans are living with arthritis, and 61 percent of them are women. That means about 28 million women are affected by arthritis in the United States.
Rheumatoid Arthritis affects more women than men in the United States. Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center says RA is two to three more times prevalent in women compared to men. Researchers believe hormonal differences between women and men may explain part of the reason.
The good news is there are some steps women can take to try to prevent osteoarthritis. They include:
- Lose weight to reduce pressure being put on knee and hip joints
- Do low-impact exercises to avoid wearing down the cartilage in joints
- Leave high heels in the closet to avoid the pressure they put on ankle joints
- When lifting objects, lift with your legs instead of your back to relieve stress on joints
- Maintain adequate levels of Vitamin D to slow the progression of arthritis
- Stay hydrated to keep cartilage lubricated and functioning smoothly
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Fight Back Against Arthritis
So what can you do? The good news is that there are risk factors for osteoarthritis that women can target for arthritis prevention. Start with these important steps.
Genes And Rheumatoid Arthritis
Just as with OA, rheumatoid arthritis and other types of arthritis caused by faulty immune system response seem to have a variety of causes, including heredity, environment, and hormones.
However, the genetic connection for RA is much more established. Specifically, a gene called HLA-DR4 is carried by nearly 70% of those with RA only 20% of the general population have it.
The genetic link is even more pronounced for ankylosing spondylitis: The gene HLA-B27 is found in more than 90% of people with ankylosing spondylitis.
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Is Arthritis Completely Avoidable
To set the record straight, theres no surefire way to guarantee that youll never get arthritis. There are far too many variables that contribute to the onset of the disease, and there are more than 100 types of arthritis that can affect your joints.
But, that doesnt mean that everyone is doomed to get arthritis. The 54.5 million arthritis sufferers we mentioned earlier works out to about 24% of the population, meaning 76% remain arthritis-free. Taking proactive steps can help you decrease your risk of developing arthritis.
Gout And Calcium Crystal Diseases
Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that can cause painful swelling in joints. It typically affects the big toe, but it can also affect other joints in the body.
Joints affected by gout can become red and hot. The skin may also look shiny and can peel.
Its caused by having too much urate, otherwise known as uric acid, in the body. We all have a certain amount of urate in our body.
However, being overweight or eating and drinking too much of certain types of food and alcoholic drinks can cause some people to have more urate in their bodies. The genes you inherit can make you more likely to develop gout.
If it reaches a high level, urate can form into crystals that remain in and around the joint. They can be there for a while without causing any problems and even without the person realising they are there.
A knock to a part of the body or having a fever can lead to the crystals falling into the soft part of the joint. This will cause pain and swelling.
There are drugs that can reduce the amount of urate in the body and prevent gout attacks. Examples are allopurinol and . If youre having a gout attack, youll also need short-term pain relief. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as well as paracetamol can be good drugs to try first.
Men can get gout from their mid-20s, and in women its more common after the menopause. Taking water tablets can increase the risk of gout.
There are also conditions that cause calcium crystals to form in and around joints.
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How To Treat Arthritis
Treating arthritis requires each patient to be fully invested in their our own care. While we do offer traditional treatments, such as anti-inflammatory medications, injections and surgery, they are not the only way to increase joint mobility, reduce pain and promote faster healing.
Managing your arthritis focuses primarily on exercise, physical therapy as well as proper diet and nutrition to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Muscles are a very important component of stability and structure around joints and can often slow the degenerative changes of arthritis if maintained with exercise and physical therapy.
Its best to avoid high-impact exercise like running or repetitive jumping if it makes your joint pain worse, although those activities wont necessarily worsen arthritis. We recommend cycling, swimming or the elliptical trainer as a low-impact alternative.
Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight, even a 5- to 10-pound weight loss can have a tremendous impact on reducing joint pain.
When it comes to managing pain, gentle stretching, yoga and tai chi may also improve flexibility and reduce stiffness and pain. Options for pain include acetaminophen or an anti-inflammatory pain reliever such as ibuprofen, but there isnt enough evidence to support taking supplements, such as glucosamine, to treat arthritis. There is some evidence that following an anti-inflammatory diet may reduce symptoms of arthritis.
How To Reduce Your Risk Of Arthritis
Even if you cant prevent it, you might be able to lower your chances of developing some forms of arthritis.
The fact is, there is no sure way to prevent arthritis. But you can help reduce your risk and delay the potential onset of certain types of arthritis. If you have healthy joints right now, do all you can now to maintain mobility and function and avoid the pain and disability associated with arthritis.
There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions, and each has associated risk factors, individual features, behaviors and circumstances.
Some risk factors are not modifiable, and there really isnt anything you you can do about them. Being female and having a family history of arthritis are two examples of factors that make people more likely but not certain to get some types of arthritis.
Risk factors that are considered modifiable are the behaviors and circumstances that can be changed in order to reduce risk, delay onset or even prevent arthritis. A few examples of modifiable risk factors for certain types of arthritis and related conditions:
- Osteoarthritis: Maintain a healthy weight.
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