INFORMATION ABOUT ARTHRITIS
Similar symptoms but different causes: Osteoarthritis is called the wear and tear arthritis and often exhibits as deterioration in joints injured or overused earlier in life. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that first targets the lining of joints (synovium). Rheumatoid arthritis has a genetic component. Gout is caused by abnormal metabolism. Find out which type of arthritis you have.
Each person's body can react differently: Symptoms vary extensively from person to person but frequently pain and stiffness result, though some report no pain at all. There are different sensations of pain. Some feel dull aching, some feel sharp pains. Arthritis can flare up or be ever present. The cause of flare-ups is difficult to diagnose as there is often no pattern. Cold seems to affect arthritis adversely, perhaps dampness too. Aggressive joint use can cause flare-ups. Certain foods also.
How arthritis makes falls more likely:
- The pain of motion that arthritis causes makes us much less likely to stay active. Balance skills deteriorate and fall risk increases as a consequence.
- Arthritis of the knees, hips or spine makes the joints of the legs stiff and less able to maneuver in challenging situations. For example, we are less able to step out of the way when bumped. The stiffness generated by arthritis increases the likelihood of falling significantly.
- Lower body joint arthritis also makes it harder to pick up your feet while walking, resulting in shuffling and a much higher possibility of having a fall.
Arthritis and Exercise: The best way by far for dealing with the pain and stiffness of arthritis is to exercise on a regular basis. Coincidentally, regular exercise reduces falls exponentially. Click on the green link for a detailed description of an exercise approach that really works to reduce the symptoms of arthritis.
This is so important for so many: Loose weight, especially if osteoarthritis of the knees, hips, spine or feet are involved. Every pound you loose translates into 4 pounds less pressure on your joints. Some people have reported that their symptoms disappeared after loosing 10-20 pounds. 66% of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis are overweight or obese. Weight loss of as little as 11 pounds reduces knee osteoarthritis among women by 50%.
Other Holistic Remedies:
- Diet: An anti-inflammatory diet is helpful in reducing swelling and irritation in the joints. Please see the link below for further information on how to reduce inflammation, including an important note on the effects of antioxidants on some forms of cancer.
- Topical anti-inflammatories: Many are available. Arnica Montana is a natural herb based topical gel. Topricin is available now over the counter and is reported to have a stronger anti-inflammatory effect than Arnica. Capsaicin has strong anti-inflammatory properties. It is the essence of chili peppers so remember to use disposable gloves when applying capsaicin cream and avoid getting it in your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Acupuncture: Many with arthritis find pain relief and lessoning of disability with acupuncture.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin: These are supplements that help some people significantly. I know of one person who is dramatically helped but I also know others who have had no positive effect or who have had side-effects from the substances.
- Dry brush technique: A Scandinavian technique that stimulates the nerve endings on the skin with a resultant reduction in inflammation.
- Women are more affected: 60% of all people with arthritis are women. Arthritis has a significantly higher age-adjusted prevalence in women (23.9%) than men (18.6%), with the prevalence increasing with age and higher among women than men in every age group. However, men are more likely to suffer from gout than women.
- Joint Replacement: As of 2010 there were 719,000 total knee replacements (up from 454,652 in 2004) and 332,000 hip replacements (up from 232,857 in 2004).
- Activity level: 44% of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis report no leisure time physical activity. Yet among older adults with knee osteoarthritis, engaging in moderate physical activity at least 3 times per week can reduce the risk of arthritis-related disability by 47%.
- Disability: Arthritis and other rheumatic conditions are the most common cause of disability among U.S. adults and have been for the past 15 years.
- Quality of life: People with doctor-diagnosed arthritis have significantly worse health related quality of life than those without arthritis. Adults with arthritis report two to four times as many unhealthy days in the past month than those without arthritis.
- Depression: Arthritis is strongly associated with depression.
- Financial cost: In 2003, the total cost attributed to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States was $128 billion, up from $86.2 billion in 1997.
Many of us can relate to these difficult symptoms. But they can be lessened and perhaps even disappear! Exercise is the key. I have developed a wonderful method for reducing pain and stiffness of any chronic deterioration or injury. For more information, see “Arthritis, Rotator Cuff Injuries & Other Chronic Conditions”, the 4th DVD in the Building Better Balance series for reducing falls and improving balance.