Watch Our Video About What Osteoarthritis Is
Osteoarthritis is a very common condition which can affect any joint in the body. Its most likely to affect the joints that bear most of our weight, such as the knees and feet. Joints that we use a lot in everyday life, such as the joints of the hand, are also commonly affected.
In a healthy joint, a coating of tough but smooth and slippery tissue, called cartilage, covers the surface of the bones and helps the bones to move freely against each other. When a joint develops osteoarthritis, part of the cartilage thins and the surface becomes rougher. This means the joint doesnt move as smoothly as it should.
When cartilage becomes worn or damaged, all the tissues within the joint become more active than normal as the body tries to repair the damage. The repair processes may change the structure of the joint, but will often allow the joint to work normally and without any pain and stiffness. Almost all of us will develop osteoarthritis in some of our joints as we get older, though we may not even be aware of it.
However, the repair processes dont always work so well and changes to the joint structure can sometimes cause or contribute to symptoms such as pain, swelling or difficulty in moving the joint normally.
For most joints, osteoarthritis is more common and more severe in women.
Reducing Inflammation And Preventing Damage
A balanced, nutritious diet will give the body the tools it needs to prevent further damage to the joints, which is essential for people with osteoarthritis.
Some foods are known to reduce inflammation in the body, and following an anti-inflammatory diet can improve symptoms. Eating enough antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E, may help to prevent further damage to the joints.
Protecting Your Joints In The Winter
Here are steps you can take to help ease the or reduce the risk of your symptoms worsening in colder weather:
Wear warm, protective clothing. Layering your clothing is best for warmth. To protect your hands, wear mittens instead of gloves, but if you must wear gloves, look for compression gloves. Protect your feet with warm socks and boots.
Use heat packs. Small heat packs in your pockets can keep your hands warm while you are outside.
Use heating pads on your sore joints. Be sure to have fabric between the pad and your skin, and dont use a high enough heat to cause a burn. If you have diabetes, speak with your doctor or team before using heat on your feet or toes.
Move around as much as you can. Exercise can help loosen , reducing pain. If you live in an area with ice and snow that make walking outside dangerous, consider joining a gym or indoor activity, like dancing or tai chi. Walking around the mall is exercise too.
- Look into mood-altering techniques if you find your mood is affected in the winter, which could contribute to more pain. Try using a light for seasonal affective disorder , meditation, or yoga to keep a calm mind and reduce stress.
You dont have to dread the winter months with RA. If you find cold weather worsens your symptoms, talk with your doctor about treatments or other lifestyle tips that can keep you moving with less pain all year long.
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Trigger: You Have Another Chronic Condition
When you have another health condition in addition to rheumatoid arthritis, it can impact several aspects of your arthritis and treatment course, says Dr. Shulman. If you have an underlying liver disease, for example, you cant take certain medications, such as methotrexate, as it can affect the liver.
Some chronic conditions have symptoms that can overlap symptoms of RA. For instance, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia are two different illnesses that can cause pain, and its important for your rheumatologist to help tease out those differences, says Dr. Shulman. Pain from fibromyalgia or osteoarthritis needs to be treated differently than pain from RA and RA treatments that focus on reducing inflammation wont necessarily help improve pain from these other conditions. Many other chronic illnesses such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, kidney diseases may also impact RA overall. Keep your rheumatologist up to date on all your medical issues, so they can determine a treatment plan that is individualized for you.
Steer Clear Of Seven Foods That May Inflame Arthritic Joints
Inflammation aggravates arthritic joints, causing tissues to swell and become inflamed. Eating anti-inflammatory foods may reduce swelling, but its also important to know about the foods that can trigger painful inflammation.
Food is one of lifes pleasures, and nostalgic recipes take center stage as we celebrate the holidays. But, for people with arthritis, indulging in favorite dishes may trigger joint inflammation that causes tenderness and pain. We cant treat arthritis with diet alone, but knowing which foods cause inflammation can help us to make healthy decisions about our diet.
Although arthritis patients dont have to avoid these foods entirely, it may be wise to limit their appearance on the menu, and find ways to replace them with some of the healthier options we are suggesting. Food choices are easier to make when we understand the lifestyle benefits that go with them.
- Corn oil. This oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids think of omega-6s as the evil twin of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s can help to relieve joint pain, while omega-6s can trigger inflammation. When you are tempted to reach for baked goods and snacks made with corn oil, remind yourself that nuts, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds are alternatives that offer joint-friendly omega-3s.
- Sugars are not a friend to joints. Candies, sugary baked goods, and sweet sodas may be delicious, but they also increase the AGEs that can trigger inflammation. Choose fruit or unsweetened drinks instead.
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What Are The Problems In Swimming That Should Be Overcome
In this article we will describe the 5 main problems all swimmers have to deal with.
- Fear of open water. Three swimmers out of four are afraid of open water like lakes or the sea. â¦
- Breathing on one side only. â¦
- Not knowing your ideal pace. â¦
- Shoulder pains. â¦
- Using all the swimming aids/tools at the same time.
Nsaids And Other Medications
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are drugs that are frequently used to ease inflammation, pain, and stiffness. NSAIDs can be rubbed on the skin or taken orally. These drugs prevent an enzyme called cyclooxygenase from making a hormone-like chemical called prostaglandins, one of the bodys biggest contributors of inflammation.
These products are inexpensive and often prescribed for people with achy joints. Some you can get over the counter. They are also used to relieve headaches and reduce fevers. Prescription-strength ibuprofen and other NSAIDs are associated with an increased risk for GI bleeding that can become worse when combined with alcohol.
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Trigger: You Overdid A Workout
When youre feeling well, you may be tempted to go full throttle during your workout. But if you havent been active for a while, you shouldnt push too hard, too fast. Otherwise, you might overwork your muscles and worsen joint pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. To ease your joints back into exercise, start slowly, keep the impact low, and take a break if your joints start to hurt.
If your RA does start to flare, scale back, but dont stop all activity. Gentle range-of-motion exercises can help you work through a flare, as they will help keep your joints flexible, and aim to get the normal amount of movement you should have within a joint, Chris Gagliardi, an American Council of Exercise certified personal trainer and ACE Resource Center manager, previously told CreakyJoints. Here are some range-of-motion exercises you can do every day.
Is It Really The Temperature Or Is It Your Mood
Some experts believe that hot or cold weather can influence a persons mood, and then this can influence how that person perceives paina reasonable argument.
On the contrary, though, in the above study on osteoarthritis, even after controlling for factors like anxiety and depression, people who described themselves as weather-sensitive still experienced more joint pain than people who were not weather-sensitive. This hints that mood problems do not fully explain the link between joint pain and weather sensitivity.
Still, it makes sense that a temperature change can impact a persons emotional health, which can then impact how they perceive or interpret pain.
The big picture here is that it seems too commonly reported to dismiss a temperature changes influence on pain. So, while your worsening pain is real and not in your head, your emotional well-being likely plays a role, albeit it may be small.
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Trigger: You Dont Eat A Lot Of Fish
Cold water fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which were found to significantly improve RA disease activity, according to an analysis of research published in the journal Nutrition. Other studies, including one published in the Global Journal of Health Science, have shown people with RA who take omega-3 supplements may need less pain relief medication.
If fish isnt your favorite, you can get omega-3s from walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed. Some brands of eggs, yogurt, or soy drinks are also fortified with omega-3s. Ask your doctor whether you should take omega-3 supplements.
What To Do If Your Symptoms Are Getting Worse
Rheumatologists rely on your symptoms to help guide treatment decisions and determine if your medications are working for you, says Dr. Shulman.
Tell your doctor immediately about changes in joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, as well as any other concerns. They can help determine if worsening symptoms were brought on by an illness or stressor, or if it means that your medications need to be adjusted or even changed entirely.
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What Causes Osteoarthritis
The exact cause of osteoarthritis isnt known. It may be hereditary, which means it runs in families. People who play sports may get it because sports can be hard on joints. However, in most people, it seems to be related to the wear and tear put on joints over the years.
Normally, a smooth layer of cartilage acts as a pad between the bones of a joint. Cartilage helps the joint move easily and comfortably. In some people, the cartilage thins as the joints are used. This is the start of osteoarthritis. Over time, the cartilage wears away and the bones may rub against each other. The rubbing causes pain, swelling, and decreased motion of the joint.
Bones may even start to grow too thick on the ends where they meet to make a joint. Bits of cartilage may loosen and get in the way of movement. This also can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Prepare Ahead Of Time
Keep track of when your flares happen so you can learn to identify triggers. If you think, for example, that weather affects your flares, OA patients need to prepare accordingly and use OTC pain meds, Dr. Bose says. In addition, RA patients should stay compliant with their medication regimen. If you suspect your diet could be a culprit, monitor what foods youre eating, says Karen Jacobs, EdD, OT, OTR, CPE, FAOTA, an occupational therapist who works with arthritis patients and a clinical professor at Boston University.
Have a plan for when flares inevitably occur. Jacobs says to arrange ahead of time with your employer to work from home or make other adjustments if needed. An inflammatory arthritis patient will often, in time, have a sense of whether they are starting to flare, Dr. Ashany says.
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The Benefits Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, teeth and muscles, as well as your immune system. You get most of your vitamin D from direct sunlight when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays.
According to Cancer Research UK, the length of time you need in the sun to make enough vitamin D depends on skin type, time of day or year, and where you are in the world.
There are no set guidelines on how much time is needed in the sun, but those with lighter skins may need just 10 minutes of sunlight every day in the UK, while those with darker skin may need around 25 minutes.
There are guidelines on vitamin D supplementation for everyone in the UK, says Professor Walker-Bone. But if youre worried about your vitamin D levels and joint pain, its important to get advice from your GP or rheumatology team. They can check your vitamin D levels, ideally in the winter months when they are likely to be lower.
Some people find their psoriasis gets better when theyre out in the sun, but more research is needed to see if sunlight helps psoriatic arthritis.
Natural sunlight can help skin psoriasis, but doesnt seem to help joint symptoms, says Professor WalkerBone. Many people with psoriatic arthritis dont have very bad skin, so PUVA treatment cant help.
Can Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Be Prevented Or Avoided
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis cannot be prevented or avoided. Certain lifestyle changes can lessen your childs discomfort. This includes exercise . Warm up before exercising. A physical therapist can offer your child a plan for home exercises. Ask your doctor about seeing a physical therapist for home exercise to reduce pain.
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What Does Past Research Say About Weather And Arthritis Pain
The question of whether theres a link between weather and aches and pains has been studied extensively. While a definitive answer is nearly impossible to provide because its hard to prove a negative researchers have been unable to make a strong case for a strong connection.
For example, a 2014 study in Australia found no link between back pain and rain, temperature, humidity, or air pressure. This study collected data regarding features of the weather at the time of first symptoms, and compared it to the weather a week and a month before. But, an earlier study found that among 200 patients followed for three months, knee pain increased modestly when temperature fell or barometric pressure rose.
Should I See A Specialist
Its unlikely that youll need to see a specialist to get a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, although your doctor may refer you if theres some doubt about the diagnosis or if they think there might be additional problems.
Your doctor may refer you if specialist help is needed to manage your osteoarthritis this might be for physiotherapy, podiatry for foot problems, or occupational therapy, which can help if youre having difficulty with everyday activities.
If your arthritis becomes severe and is causing long-term problems, your GP may refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon to consider joint surgery or to a pain management programme.
- supplements and complementary treatments.
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Trigger: You Drink A Lot Of Soda
Get this: A 16-ounce bottle of regular cola contains about 49 grams of sugar thats a little more than 12 teaspoons of added sugar, plus more than 200 empty calories, in just one not-very-big bottle. Consuming too much added sugar causes the body to release pro-inflammatory cytokines, Jen Bruning, MS, RD, registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics previously told CreakyJoints. Cytokine levels are already high when you have inflammatory arthritis producing more only results in more inflammation, which is what causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in your joints.
And research has shown regularly drinking sugar-sweetened drinks is linked to greater weight gain and obesity which, as mentioned, can make RA symptoms worse. One 2017 study that surveyed 217 people with rheumatoid arthritis noted that among 20 foods, sugar-sweetened soda was the most frequently reported to worsen RA symptoms, followed by desserts.
The healthiest drink for you is water, of course. But making the switch may not be so easy at first. If its the bubbles you love, try sparkling water. To pump up the flavor, add a splash of juice, sliced lemon or lime, or even some fresh herbs.
Will Running Mean Ill Need A Hip Replacement Sooner
Q) Iâve been told after 17 years of hip pain that I have arthritis. I have a torn labrum, which is the ring of cartilage that lines the hip socket, and doctors wonât repair it. Iâll need a double hip replacement in the future, but at 39 Iâm too young.
I want to go out running, but not sure what to do?
Michelle, via email â 2015
A) The question here is whether running will make you need hip replacements sooner, and whether the health benefits of exercise outweigh this.
Our joints and bones need some load passing through them to remain healthy. The cartilage lining our joints responds to this load, and weight bearing exercise keeps our bones strong and healthy. Our joints arenât machine parts that just wear out. Thereâs a constant process of wear and repair happening in all our joints, so running itself shouldnât be seen as harmful.
That said, some simple principles apply:
- Make sure to warm up and warm down properly.
- Start off with short runs and build up gradually to longer distances. A useful rule of thumb to avoid injury is to increase your distance by around 10% each week to let your joints become used to the training load.
- Itâs worth going to a running shop to get trainers that will help correct any issues you have with your foot position.
- Consider doing some core stability work to give you the stable platform of core fitness you need to avoid injury.
This answer was provided by Dr Philip Helliwell in 2015, and was correct at the time of publication.
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