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Taking Action Against Arthritis

Taking Action Against Arthritis

1956-0132-Arthritis Awareness Article

If I asked you to picture 54 million people what would you see?

Maybe you imagine the 54 million people who live in South Africa or the 54 million people following Taylor Swift on Twitter. You probably don’t see the 54 million people affected by arthritis in the United States today.

It’s hard to imagine, but the impact is bigger than one might think. Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in our country, affecting 1 in 5 adults. Really, arthritis is just the informal way of referring to the more than 100 types of joint diseases.

Typically, arthritis is found more often in women, people from rural areas, and older populations, but arthritis is not limited to these groups. In fact, 300,000 children also have some form of arthritis.

The likelihood of getting arthritis is dependent on family history as well as lifestyle and personal behaviors. Symptoms of arthritis usually include swelling, pain, stiffness of joints, and decreased range of motion and can vary from moderate to severe. Those with arthritis often experience chronic pain and are unable to perform daily activities—which has a big impact on their work and social lives.

So, is there anything you can do to prevent arthritis? Currently, there is no full-proof way to prevent the condition. But you can reduce your risk or delay the onset of arthritis by:

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Eating a diet low in sugar, alcohol and purines
  • Not smoking or quitting smoking

Actions like these help lower risk for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout—three common types of arthritis. Similarly, you can avoid sports injuries that may lead to arthritis later in life by stretching before being active, using proper equipment, and obtaining adequate training for safety.

In the future, scientists hope to discover ways to truly prevent arthritis. Organizations like the Arthritis Foundation work to fund programs that search for preventions and cures, hoping one day it will become a reality—even for those with genetic risk.

For those living with arthritis already, it’s important to maintain an active lifestyle. It is suggested that all adults get 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate activity per week. Brisk walking is the perfect way to meet this mark. Those who suffer with arthritis often see improvements with pain, fatigue, sleep, and quality of life when they incorporate more walking into their lifestyle.

Adding 30 minutes of walking into your day can seem daunting and distracting from your schedule, but spreading it out amongst your daily activities can be easy. For example, you can walk your dog before work, take some laps around your office building after you finish lunch, and take your children or grandchildren to a local park after dinner.

Exercise is not the only option for helping those of you with arthritis. An arthritis-friendly diet can also reduce inflammation and pain. Doctors recommend choosing foods such as:

  • Fish
  • Soy
  • Cherries
  • Broccoli
  • Green Tea
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Grains – oatmeal, brown rice, whole-grain cereals
  • Beans
  • Nuts – walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, almonds

Adding these foods into your diet, while avoiding excess sugar, processed foods, MSG, and white flour products, can help ease symptoms.

If more exercise and better diet don’t do the trick, there are also various holistic treatments that you can try. Incorporating supplements like Vitamin D and Omega 3s (fish oil) or herbs like turmeric and ginger into your day has shown an overall improvement in body feeling and function. Massage is another easy way that you can relax your muscles and joints without medication.

Utilizing the many tips and tricks for pain management alongside any prescribed treatments from your doctor will yield the best results. We suggest talking to your doctor before you begin any new supplements or treatments. Your doctor will be able to review your medical history and provide the best course of treatment.

By 2030, arthritis is projected to affect 67 million people in the U.S. alone, but we can do our part to slow down the effects of arthritis. Adding healthier habits into our lives will not only reduce our risk of arthritis, but can improve our overall health, wellness, and longevity.

Talk to your healthcare provider to learn more about how you can prevent or reduce arthritis symptoms.