A Study conducted by CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) states that more than 46 million Americans had arthritis in the years between 2003-2005. The most common type is osteoarthritis (OA), which affects nearly 30 million people in the United States. It is a degenerative disease where the cartilage between the bones in the joints has eroded there is no longer a sufficient cushion to keep the bones from grinding together upon movement. Another type is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is an autoimmune disease, and nearly 1.5 million Americans are estimated to be affected by it. In RA, the immune system causes inflammation inside the lining of the joints.
In both RA and OA, each person has a different experience and is impacted differently. Two people with the same severity of disease can experience completely different issues depending on their lifestyle and the steps taken to control the outcome of the disease. Most people affected by this condition think that there is not much they can do about it. But according to the Arthritis Foundation, there are lots of things that can be done to relieve pain and keep the condition from getting worse. Making lifestyle modifications can help to decrease inflammation and pain, and may help decrease a person's reliance on anti-inflammatory medications and prescription painkillers.
Research and consider supplements and vitamins
There are mixed responses regarding the effectiveness of supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin for relieving the pain. But these supplements have been shown to retard the effect of cartilage degradation, particularly in OA of the knee. Relief from the symptoms can take up to six months, and the most effective daily doses are at least 1500 mg of glucosamine and 800 mg of chondroitin. Vitamin D has been shown to inhibit the enzymes that can break down cartilage, hence supplementing your diet with vitamin D may help slow the progression of the disease. Inflammation may be reduced by a healthy diet that is rich in vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids (found in foods such as salmon, tuna, walnuts, and canola oil).
Get plenty of sleep and stay happy
Be sure to get plenty of good-quality sleep, to improve your energy and reduce pain. You can alter between a cold pack and a heating pad to your joints to get relief. Heat dilates the blood vessels, thereby increasing blood flow to a painful area, which can help relieve the early symptoms of arthritis. Cold helps constrict blood vessels, thereby decreasing swelling and inflammation. Acupuncture has proven to be especially helpful for OA of knee joints. Stress-relieving techniques such as massage and meditation can help raise your spirits and lessen the pain.
Control your weight and exercise daily
Overweight people should try and lose weight to reduce the pain, particularly in knees or hips. Low-impact aerobic exercises can help with losing weight, and it also improves stamina, muscle strength, and overall health. Exercise can have a surprising anti-inflammatory result because of the endorphins that are released during aerobic activities. Adding 20-30 minutes a day of walking exercises, swimming, biking, or other low-impact exercises can dramatically reduce the pain. Exercises that increase the range of motion and enhance balance, such as tai chi and yoga, can help relieve symptoms and prevent injury to joints.
Use medications wisely
Non-steroidal medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help lessen the pain and inflammation of OA. However, they can result in stomach ulcers and other ailments if they are overused. The COX-2 inhibitors that reduce inflammation and pain have been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular issues if used continuously. For the most severe pain, prescription narcotics may be necessary, but they can also be risky because they are addictive. Current protocols for the management of arthritis uses the lowest effective dosage of a pain reliever, and for the shortest amount of time possible. Use medications when you need them, but only for a short term. For long term, the best approach is lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, vitamins and supplements, and weight loss.
Since, it is a degenerative disease, arthritis usually sneaks up on people, and pain and inflammation slowly increases until it become unbearable. But with even minor changes in your lifestyle, the pain can be lessened and managed.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.