Arthritis is a condition many of us are aware of, in fact, nearly 50 percent of those over the age of 65 are living with this condition in some form. This condition causes inflammation of the joints which can be very painful, and affect our daily lives tremendously. So, it’s important we take proactive steps to manage it as best we can.
You might wonder how your joints become inflamed, leading to arthritis. The simple answer is this: cartilage, which is a firm - but flexible - connective tissue within your joints, protects your joints by absorbing shock and pressure for normal every-day movements. Over time, due to age, overuse, injury or obesity, this cartilage can diminish, causing arthritis. In fact, normal wear and tear is the primary cause of Osteoarthritis or OA. Rheumatoid arthritis or RA, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disorder most likely caused by certain genetic markers. RA occurs when your body’s immune system attacks the tissues of the body, including the soft tissue in your joints that produces a fluid that nourishes and lubricates the joints.
So, you know you have some form of arthritis, what next?
1. See a doctor. If you aren’t already seeing a rheumatologist, you should look into it. Working with a doctor can help track your pain, but also help you plan ahead for any unexpected flare-ups where medications might be necessary.
2. Continue to eat a healthy diet. We hope this goes without saying, but diet is incredibly important in managing arthritis. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods such as fish, nuts and seeds, blueberries and olive oils can help reduce the swelling in our bodies, which can also manage our arthritis pain.
3. Treatment. Applying hot and cold compresses on painful joints can help reduce swelling and calm pain. Specifically, ice will help reduce inflammation, and heat will encourage blood flow and nutrients to the affected area. Switch off between the hot and cold packs for maximum benefits. Additionally, some over-the-counter pain relief such as Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be helpful, as well as menthol or capsaicin creams to block pain signals from your joints. Of course, always consult your doctor before treating this or any other condition with over the counter (OTC) medication.
4. Rest. Rest is a critical component of good mental and physical health. When you have arthritis, you likely need more rest to allow your joints and bones to recover and regain energy. Don’t be stingy on getting a full eight hours of sleep each night, and take naps if you need to!
Don’t let arthritis pain discourage you from doing the things you love. Stay active but just always remember to give yourself a break if you’re feeling stiff.
Inter Valley Health Plan hosts classes regularly on health and vitality. For a full list of classes in your area, please visit https://www.ivhp.com/forhealthandliving.
Article From Inter Valley Health Plan