Arthritis is a condition which affects the joints. There are over 100 different types of arthritis – arthritis conditions are NOT all the same. The commonest arthritis include: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis & Ankylosing Spondylitis. The later arthritis conditions are associated with INFLAMMATION as their major problem.
Oh my stiff joints – Osteoarthritis (OA)
Osteoarthritis is not really a disease, but an adaptive response of the joint to an insult. What this means is that the joint adapts to the lost cartilage by making changes, such as bony growths, to try to decrease joint stress. Some people may be MORE predisposed to Osteoarthritis due to their genes, and the nature of their body constitution. Interestingly, on X-Ray, over 50% of older adults have joint changes, but only some people will experience symptoms such as pain. This means that there is more to the problem than just joint damage. It is believed that for some people they become more sensitised to pain & other symptoms. Stress is probably one of the key factors, which causes this problem. The other is loss of muscle and muscle strength. Most osteoarthritis pain will come and go, and there is no need to fear OA, as it is not necessarily progressive.
7 Keys to SUCCESSFULLY managing Osteoarthritis
- Become informed about your arthritis.
- Keep active – walking is generally good.
- Get yourself an individualised exercise or Yoga program specific to your needs.
- Manage your stress – practise YOGA relaxation &/or meditation.
- Watch your weight – being overweight can make symptoms worse.
- Develop an OA action plan – what to do generally, and what to do if you have an acute “Flare Up” (see your doctor, physiotherapist or health professional).
- Paracetamol is usually best for pain associated with OA, BUT for a natural nutritional alternative, RESEARCH has indicated that it is worth trying Glucosamine Sulphate 2000 mg daily (care if you have shellfish allergies) or Chondroitin Sulphate (Shark Cartilage). You only need to use one or the other – using both doesn’t seem to give any added benefit. Expect a few weeks for improvement in pain or stiffness.
Hot & Swollen – Inflammatory Arthritis
The 2 commonest inflammatory Arthritis conditions are Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) & Ankylosing Spondylosis (AS). RA is an AUTOIMMUNE Disease-causing inflammation and damage to joints and synovial tissue. To prevent joint damage, rheumatologists treat RA aggressively, with powerful disease-modifying drugs. Try to PROTECT your joints in an acute RA attack. Cardiovascular Disease is also a disease of Inflammation, which can be made worse by RA. (Reduce your heart disease risk factors.) AS is possibly a disease triggered by bacterial infection (Possibly from the GUT) in people prone to the condition. It causes inflammation, stiffness & hardening of joints so they can’t move. Movement is one of the most important things you can do to help AS.
7 Keys to SUCCESSFULLY managing Inflammatory Arthritis
- Understand your condition.
- Keep Active – Exercise helps reduce inflammation. Get a program specific to your needs. (Get a medical assessment before exercising due to cardiovascular risk increase.)
- Don’t smoke; it WILL make your condition and symptoms worse.
- Increase Anti-inflammatory Fish oils (or alternatives such as Tumeric) in your diet.
- Care with Saturated Fats & Processed foods. They can make your inflammation worse.
- Increase your fruit & veggie intake – antioxidants have positive effects on inflammatory arthritis.
- Inflammation is made worse by STRESS in people with inflammatory arthritis. Manage your stress. Yoga is a holistic system, which helps you to be more stress resilient, because it helps to change your attitudes to stress.
Be Patient – Health & healing takes time.
by James Bone