Arthritis is the inflammation and stiffness of one or more joints in the body. which further causes pain, swelling, and limited mobility. This is a common complaint we hear from at least one person around us. Arthritis is one of the major causes of joint pains.
More than 350 million people are affected with arthritis globally (2021) and the statistics vary depending on the type, age, race, ethnicity, and sex, especially women.
It's important to note that while the causes of arthritis are not fully understood, there is no tested cure for it but for many types of arthritis, there are treatments available that can help control symptoms and prevent further damage to the joints. But changing our lifestyle can help reduce the symptoms of arthritis or might be its occurrence in our later ages.
Here are some habits you can adopt:
Developing healthy habits at a young age can contribute to the prevention of arthritis and promote overall joint health as you age.
Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight puts added stress on your joints, particularly weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of developing arthritis and decreases the strain on your joints.
Stay Active and Stay Hydrated: Regular exercise is essential for keeping your joints strong, flexible, and healthy. Engage in activities that promote joint movement and strength, such as walking, swimming, cycling, or low-impact exercises. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
Practice Good Posture: Maintaining proper posture while sitting, standing, and performing activities helps reduce strain on your joints. Avoid slouching and use ergonomic equipment and supportive chairs when necessary.
Protect Your Joints: Avoid repetitive movements or overuse of specific joints, as this can increase the risk of joint damage and arthritis. Use proper techniques and ergonomic aids when performing tasks that involve repetitive motions or strain on your joints.
Maintain a Balanced Diet: A healthy and balanced diet can support overall joint health. Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, flaxseeds, and chia seeds, as they have anti-inflammatory properties. Consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products for optimal nutrition.
Avoid Smoking and Limit Alcohol Intake: Smoking has been associated with an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, while excessive alcohol consumption may contribute to joint inflammation. Quit smoking and moderate your alcohol intake to promote joint health.
Protect Your Joints During Physical Activity: When engaging in sports or activities that involve repetitive motions or potential joint impact, use protective gear and equipment to reduce the risk of joint injuries. This includes wearing appropriate footwear, knee pads, and wrist guards if needed.
Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to your body's signals and avoid pushing yourself too hard. Take breaks, rest when necessary, and modify activities if they cause joint pain or discomfort.
Regular Health Check-ups: Regular medical check-ups allow healthcare professionals to monitor your overall health and identify any early signs of joint issues. Discuss any joint pain, stiffness, or concerns with your healthcare provider for appropriate evaluation and guidance.
Things to do if Arthritis Pain Flares
An arthritis flare is a period of increased disease activity or worsening symptoms. It can be triggered by stress, injury to the skin, bacterial infections, weather changes, and certain medications.
- Apply Heat: Using heat before workouts will relax the joints and relieve pain before you begin. Heat should be applied for about 20 minutes before working out for optimal results.
- Ice: After the activity, applying ice to your joints will reduce swelling and eases inflammation by constricting blood vessels.
- Massage: By moving lactic acid buildup that creates soreness, massage can improve pain and ease soreness.
- Guard Against Infection: Having an auto-immune disease increases risk for infection in turn causing an arthritis flare. Washing your hands often and avoiding close contact will all help to decrease the likelihood of infection.
Arthritis can affect people’s quality of life due to pain and immobility. It can lead to problems with sleep, fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Some types of arthritis also increase the risk of developing other chronic conditions such as lung disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
The diseases cannot be cured permanently, but managed to a certain extent with periodic workouts with weights, a proper diet, and avoiding sports injuries through proper equipment, rest, and proper sleep.