If you or a loved one have experienced first-hand how arthritis can change one’s life, you know it’s no easy task to face. Your day-to-day tasks that were so simple before start to become increasingly difficult to do, and it can be incredibly frustrating. Luckily, medical treatments are not only becoming more accessible but have continued to evolve and progress in the last few years. Many medical experts have dedicated their life’s work to studying arthritis and finding the right treatments for those who are in need of care. In this article, you will find the latest studies and treatments, as well as everything you need to know about what arthritis is, how to know if you have arthritis, how you could potentially reduce your risk of arthritis, and how to slow your arthritis from progressing.
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What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a term that refers to conditions that cause joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and other joint problems. There are different types of arthritis, including Ankylosing Spondylitis, Gout, Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, Reactive Arthritis, and Septic Arthritis. The three most common, however, are:
- Osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis. Usually occurs when joints are overused and are most common in the elderly. It can, however, also affect people with previous joint injuries or weight problems. Osteoarthritis is a loss of cartilage, which can make movement painful and eventually make bones rub together causing further pain and stiffness.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – RA is an autoimmune disease, which makes your own immune system attack your body, with joints being the most affected. The causes of RA are unknown, although some studies suggest it can be caused by infections, viruses or chemical unbalances in the body. RA makes everyday tasks become painful, such as opening a jar, driving, and sometimes even changing clothes.
- Psoriatic Arthritis – PA affects the skin and joints. People with PA experience skin burning and itching in certain parts of their body. PA usually presents itself in adults from 30 to 50 years old.
Over 54 million people have arthritis in the United States – that’s 23% of all adults.
How to know if you have arthritis
There are a few symptoms to be mindful of in order to identify if it’s arthritis:
- Morning stiffness
- Joint pain or tenderness
- Abnormal joint movement (not being able to move a joint properly)
- Sudden weakness and joint pain
- Nail changes
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How to reduce your risk of arthritis
Arthritis can sometimes be caused by genetics, age, previous injuries, and sometimes gender (studies show many types of arthritis are more common in women) but there are a few things you can do to make sure your body and joints are at their best. The best way to prevent is to:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Control blood sugar
- Exercise for 30 minutes per day
- Stretch to avoid injuries
- and more…
How to stop arthritis from progressing
Similar to the list of ways to reduce the risk of arthritis, people who have been diagnosed with a certain type of arthritis and are looking to slow down the effects should look at that list as well. Maintaining a healthy weight (and losing weight if overweight) is critical to help support your joints. Exercising and maintaining a strong body will also help to slow down arthritis. Follow a plan and routine to target and strengthen the muscles supporting the affected joint. Make sure you avoid putting too much pressure on the joints that have been most affected by arthritis. Some recommended low-impact exercises for those experiencing arthritis include:
- Water aerobics
- Tai chi
Drugs for arthritis
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective to reduce joint swelling
- Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medications to help with inflammation and pain
- Golimumab (Simponi) is a new treatment and known as biological therapy. It can help arthritis in lowering inflammation by blocking a protein called TNF with causes inflammation, pain, and damage to joints.
Antibiotics usage associated with arthritis
A recent study from Keele University and the Quadram Institute analyzed data from medical records and found that the odds of developing rheumatoid arthritis were 60% higher in those taking antibiotics than those who did not.
Anti-inflammatory food and supplements
Anti-inflammatory medications work great to reduce overall inflammation and swelling, as well as provide some pain-relieving effects. There are, however, a lot of diet changes to make to support your body’s natural anti-inflammatory processes.
Omega-3 fatty acids, most commonly found in fish and other seafood; nuts and seeds; and plant oils (such as flaxseed oil) can aid in reducing inflammation in your body. You may also find natural supplements of Omega-3 fatty acids in many pharmacies and retailers. Research the best options to take and make sure to consult with your doctor.
Other diet recommendations
Research has shown that foods rich in vitamins C, E and A also help your body slow down the progression of arthritis by helping the body’s natural ability to combat oxidative stress and cell damage.
Some general recommendations include:
- Broccoli – rich in vitamin K and C and sulforaphane, found to prevent and slow the progression of osteoarthritis
- Green tea – packed with antioxidants to reduce inflammation
- Citrus fruits (such as oranges, grapefruits, and limes) – rich in vitamin C
- Whole grains (such as oatmeal and brown rice) – lowers levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation
- Cherries – anti-inflammatory effects and reduction of gout attacks
Do your research
When it comes to arthritis, early diagnosis can truly make all of the difference in your journey. There are many options today to treat arthritis, and it is very important to know what those options are early on. Do your research and talk to your doctor if you suspect you may be experiencing any type of arthritis.