Take Control of Your Arthritis
It’s starts with stiffness in your fingers and eventually leads to discomfort in your knees and elbows. Your grandparents had it. Your parents had it. And now, you figure, it was just a matter of time before you, too, developed arthritis.

Well, you think, this is it. So much for my days of care-free movement.

Arthritis is an inflammatory joint disorder that affects roughly 350 million people around the world. Men, women, children and adults all suffer from arthritis. Because so many people develop arthritis, most people just assume it is a sign of aging and do nothing about it, but, in fact, early diagnosis and management is important to help prevent irreversible damage or permanent disability.

The disorder is often accompanied by a pain, stiffness, swelling, tenderness and warmth in the joint area. There are many different causes that lead to the disorder, but there are two different types of joint pain which are classified as arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease. It is caused by injury or through an inherited protein defect, and it causes the cartilage at the ends of the bones to break down. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, which develops because the immune system believes the membrane between the bones is a foreign substance and inflammation occurs as a result. This damages the cartilage in and around the joint.

Knowing this, it is possible to reduce the likelihood of developing arthritis with two key things: a proper diet and low-impact, consistent exercise.

A balanced, healthy diet provides your body with the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to build and maintain tissues and the fluid around joints. Prostaglandins, which help reduce inflammation, are generated through the absorption of essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6.

Exercise helps joint mobility, prevents loss of lean muscle tissue, helps maintain muscle strength and reduces pain and stiffness. When exercising, it is important that the full body is engaged in movement. This means that only taking a leisurely evening stroll is not enough. To properly control pain and inflammation, do an assortment of low-impact activities, such as walking, swimming and lifting weights, and make sure all joints go through a full range of motion at least once a day.

Though taking care of your body with a proper diet and workout regimen are the keys to managing arthritis, there are treatment options available as well. Treatment depends on the type of arthritis present, but medications, splinting, cold pack application and physical therapy are all relevant options for controlling the disorder.

This month at The Specific Chiropractic Center, we’ll be providing further information on how you can cope with arthritis. Join us Wednesday, May 26 at 6:30 p.m. for our monthly health and wellness lecture that puts you back in control of your body.

REFERENCES:

Aschan, Stefan. Managing Arthritis with Diet and Exercise. ABCNews.Go.Com. (April 15, 2008) Retrieved May 5, 2010 from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/PainManagement/story?id=4650107&page=1.

Stoppler, Melissa Conrad, M.D. Arthritis. MedicineNet.com. (September 10, 2008) Retrieved May 5, 2010 from http://www.medicinenet.com/arthritis/article.htm.

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