Other than myself, I don’t know of many folks who do not have ‘arthritis’ in one form or another. Arthritis is an ambiguous term. There are over 100 different conditions that can be termed “arthritis.” Two of the most heard of are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis. One that is not familiar Lupus erythematosus, and others. So what are we talking about? What are these conditions and what must you do to avoid them? I hope I can enlighten you.
Osteoarthritis – sometimes just termed as ‘arthritis’ is the most common type. It can affect any joint to include a weight-bearing hip or knee, or your neck or back. The cartilage deteriorates and smooth joint surfaces become rough, causing loss of joint flexibility, pain and stiffness and sometimes mild swelling, and even change in the structure. It can come and go with continual use of these body parts.
According to my Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary – ‘arthritis’ may ” result from or be associated with a number of conditions to include: infection (gonococcal, tuberculous, pneumococcal; rheumatic fever; ulcerative colitis; trauma; neurogenic disturbances; degenerative joint disease (as osteoarthritis); metabolic disturbances as gout; etc. or periarticular conditions as fibromyositis, myositis, or bursitis etc. Other terms include: acute secondary; acute suppurative; allergic; atrophic; deformans (deformity of fingers etc.) – progresses; degenerative – chronic, usually progressive, characterized by destruction of joint cartilage and other degenerative changes; fungosa; gonorrheal; gout; hypertrophic; neurogenic; neurotrophic – associated with nervous system; osteo- a chronic disease involving weight-bearing joints; pneumococcal – appearing as a sequel to lobar pneumonia, affecting one or more joints and the middle ear; psoriatic – usually accompanies psoriasis; and rheumatoid, a systemic disease of unknown cause in joints and related structures – tends to be chronic – and crippling deformities are the end result.”
Rheumatoid arthritis – was noted, in the Today’s Health & Wellness magazine, as being “probably an immune system disorder, associated with inflammation in a joint’s lining. It often begins with pain and swelling in your wrists, hands, feet or ankles, on both sides of your body at the same time and can affect your entire body, including heart, blood vessels and lungs.”
Lupus erthematosus – a type of arthritis, can affect the membranes lining your joints. It is a chronic and usually fatal systemic disease characterized by pathological changes in the vascular system. A skin rash is usually present. Symptoms include fever, arthritis, and signs of renal and lung and heart involvement in varying degrees. (If you have this condition – research it for yourself)
Apparently ‘arthritis’ doesn’t care whether you are male, female, old, or young. I have heard of 6 year olds having ‘arthritis’ – even rheumatoid arthritis. Many years ago, arthritis was hard to diagnose. However, today the methods for treating arthritis have drastically improved. It is advisable to seek treatment right away if you suspect you have arthritis. Seeking treatment early improves the outcome in the long run.
Most ‘arthritic’ conditions are progressive and can become chronic. It often involves a breakdown of a joint’s cartilage and inflammation in the joint’s lining that can affect muscles, tendons and ligaments. “As these tissues become shortened, your joint may become deformed and difficult to move.” Avoiding movement – which many people do – can weaken the muscles. Scientists aren’t sure what causes arthritis. However, once you have it and know that is what you have, inactivity may be a factor in allowing the cartilage and other soft tissues supporting a joint to become weak. “Exercise that keeps the muscles around your joints strong and toned helps protect them.” (W. Hayes Wilson, M.D.) The things Dr. Wilson advises against are – “seemingly inconsequential motions, awkward movement, like twisting while lifting as these may start a cascading pain event.” Researchers report that smoking more than doubles your chances of getting rheumatoid arthritis and makes it more damaging to your joints. Genetics may also play a role.
The conclusion I have reached, from what I have researched, is that living with an arthritic condition has to be difficult. Therapies, that seem to me to be reasonable, are those suggested by the experts. They include the following:
- DO NOT stop exercising when your arthritis is at its worst. Adapt your exercises rather than discontinuing them.
- Do water activities, because being in water helps lighten the weight on your joints;
- When possible put your joints through their full range of movement – but not rapidly or loaded with weight – several times a day to keep joint function;
- Splints, wraps or braces can protect and support joints during activity, but should not be worn continuously – or the muscles atrophy;
- Alternate activity periods with rest based on time rather than pain level.
- Supplements – what about them? Consult your doctor first. There are many out there promising relief from the pain and inflammation. Some work and some don’t. Supplements found to be helpful include: Glucosamine and chondroitin (substances found in and around cartilage cells); Vitamin A – helps maintain your immune system; Vitamin B-6, need it for inflammation; Vitamin C – promotes the formation of collagen and reduces free radicals that can damage cartilage and cause inflammation; Vitamin D; Calcium for bone loss; Sodium for bones; Copper is anti-inflammatory; Selenium, and other supplements that are still being investigated such as Collagen hydolysate; DHEA; DMSO; Ginger; GLA; MSM; and Omega-3 fatty acids, to name a few.
The bottom line – don’t let arthritis rule your life. There are ways around it. Before you start any therapies, consult your doctor about possible adverse effects for your condition or medications. Buy products, supplements, herbs from well-established companies. Read labels carefully. Change your eating habits – eat healthy foods to ease the arthritic condition. And last, but not least, do your own homework – RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!