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Understanding Arthritis & How to Manage it

Arthritis is tough for anyone who has it. Because the disease causes swelling and tenderness of the joints, those with arthritis can experience a lot of stiffness and joint pain that only worsens with age. 

Fortunately, there are a number of things people can do to manage their arthritis and alleviate some of the symptoms. We’ve created a guide below that not only details the most common types of arthritis but also explains some tips that can help you decrease the stiffness and pain you may be experiencing.

Common Types of Arthritis

Even though there are more than 100 types of arthritis and related diseases, the ones below are the most common ones found in people.

Osteoarthritis:

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between your bones wears away, causing your bones to rub together directly. The bones resting and rubbing together so harshly causes joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. This pain can become chronic, resulting in lost joint strength. Osteoarthritis risk factors include family history, age, and previous injuries such as ACL tears. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis:

Rheumatoid arthritis is an example of inflammatory arthritis. This occurs because the immune system does not properly and attacks joints with uncontrollable inflammation. Early detection is crucial and can help prevent permanent bone and joint damage.

Psoriatic Arthritis:

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects some people that have psoriasis. The swelling and pain symptoms that affect this type can have times where they especially flare up or seem to subside. It’s important to have a doctor diagnose this condition because they may be able to help recommend treatments like steroid injections or medications that can mitigate symptoms.

Gout:

Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when too much uric acid crystallizes and deposits into the joints. It is commonly found in the big toe but can affect any of your other joints with severe swelling, pain, and redness. What is different about gout is that it can be chronic, or occur in acute attacks.

Ways to Manage Arthritis

Stay Active:

Staying active and maintaining an exercise routine are crucial for keeping arthritis symptoms at bay. The key here is to keep up your level of movement through gentle exercises that don’t overexert you.

Some exercise ideas you can implement into your daily routine include:

  • Walking
  • Riding a stationary bike
  • Water aerobics
  • Seated workouts
  • Yoga
  • Pilates

Maintain a Healthy Diet:

Having a well-balanced diet is important if you have arthritis because your body needs all the vitamins and nutrients it can get to fight the inflammation. 

Foods that you can start including into your diet to combat arthritis include:

  • Oily fishes like salmon and sardines
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Fruits like berries, pomegranates, and apples
  • Whole grains
  • Meats high in protein

Improve Sleep Habits:

Sleep has a direct connection to arthritis because if you’re not well-rested, your hormonal balance may be off and can significantly increase the pain you feel. Additionally, not getting enough sleep can lead to more fatigue and other symptoms, all of which can increase arthritis pain.

Ways you can start improving your sleep habits include:

  • Keeping a regular waking up/falling asleep schedule
  • Limiting caffeine or alcohol 
  • Having a small nighttime snack
  • Eliminating distractions like a loud television, too many lights, etc.
  • Avoid being over-stimulated 2-3 hours before bedtime 

Use Heat and Cold Treatments

Heat and cold treatments are well-known for alleviating stiffness and pain that comes with arthritis. It also can help with increasing your mobility and flexibility and boosting your blood circulation.

Some methods for cold therapy include:

  • Applying ice packs to affected areas
  • Taking a cold bath or shower
  • Using ice cubes to massage painful areas

Methods for heat therapy include:

  • Swimming or exercising in warm water
  • Taking a hot shower
  • Using saunas or steam rooms

It’s important to know that those with diabetes, dermatitis, deep vein thrombosis, multiple sclerosis (MS), and other vascular diseases may not be able to participate in heat therapy. If you have any of these, please consult your doctor first.

Don’t Wait to Get Help if Needed

If you have any risk factors for arthritis or are concerned you could be developing a form of arthritis it is important to speak with your physician as soon as possible. Voice your concerns and inform them about your potential risk factors. Early detection is key to preventing further damage and helping mitigate symptoms.

Additional Resources

5 Superfoods for Arthritis

9 Herbs to Fight Arthritis Pain

Natural Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis Basics

Healthy Hive

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