Make Your Move Against Arthritis

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Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States and a general pain in the neck (knees, hands, etc.) that no one should have to live with.

Yet, more than 50 million Americans do suffer from one form or another of the disease. Here is the The Arthritis Foundation’s breakdown of the top three types that are afflicting us:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis, is a progressive degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage associated with risk factors, such as overweight/obesity, history of joint injury and age.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), a systemic disease characterized by the inflammation of the membranes lining the joint, which causes pain, stiffness, warmth, swelling and sometimes severe joint damage.
  • Juvenile Arthritis (JA) is an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children ages 16 and younger.

Osteoarthritis, in particular, is practically a given for those of us fortunate enough to reach a certain age. Dr. C. Thomas Vangsness Jr., an orthopedist and chief of sports medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, is quoted in the NYT’s New Old Age blog as saying, “If you’re 55 or over, you have a 75 percent chance. By 79, almost everyone has some symptoms.”

While there is currently no cure for arthritis, there are things you can do to lessen its impact on your life.

Among some of the things the Arthritis Foundation recommends are the following:

  • Be good to your joints: Small actions like alternating between sitting and standing throughout the day (doing either for too long is tough on the body) and taking vitamins and supplements such as Glucosamine, can make a big impact on joint health. See a list of other joint-friendly things you can do here.
  • Get plenty of low-impact exercise: According to Dr. Vangsness, “If the muscles stay strong, they decrease the force across the joint. They take up some of that pounding, sort of like shock absorbers. Also, joints like to be lubricated. Movement helps slosh the synovial fluid in your joints around and that nourishes the cartilage.” Swimming is the perfect exercise for people with arthritis because they can move their joints in a weightless atmosphere.
  • Pick the right foods: There is no diet cure for arthritis, but certain foods have been shown to fight inflammation, strengthen bones and boost the immune system. Some good ones to choose from include: Omega-3-rich fish, like salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring; heart healthy oils like olive oil, which contains oleocanthal, a compound with properties similar to non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs; and low-fat dairy to help build bone strength. Here are some other foods the Arthritis Foundation recommends.

There are many more tips listed here.  The bottom line is: living with arthritis does not necessarily mean having to suffer chronic pain. If you haven’t already, we recommend speaking with your doctor about other pain management techniques and lifestyle adjustments that might help you cope with arthritis.

For more information about the health and well-being of seniors and those who care for them, please contact Home Instead of Central Oregon at (541) 330-6400.





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