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Arthritis is an Inflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain, swelling, and stiffness, and resulting from infection, trauma, degenerative changes, metabolic disturbances, or other causes.
It occurs in various forms, such as bacterial arthritis, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis.
Last Updated - 25th October 2005
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a joint disorder featuring inflammation. A joint is an area of the body where two different bones meet. A joint functions to move the body parts connected by its bones. Arthritis literally means inflammation of one or more joints.
Arthritis is frequently accompanied by joint pain. Joint pain is referred to as arthralgia.
There are many forms of arthritis (over one hundred and growing). The forms range from those related to wear and tear of cartilage (such as osteoarthritis) to those associated with inflammation resulting from an over-active immune system (such as rheumatoid arthritis).
The causes of arthritis depend on the form of arthritis. Causes include injury (leading to osteoarthritis), abnormal metabolism (such as gout and pseudogout), inheritance, infections, and for unclear reasons (such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus).
Arthritis is classified as one of the rheumatic diseases. These are conditions that are different individual illnesses, with differing features, treatments, complications, and prognosis. They are similar in that they have a tendency to affect the joints, muscles, ligaments, cartilage, tendons, and many have the potential to affect internal body areas.
What are symptoms of arthritis?
Symptoms of arthritis include pain and limited function of joints. Inflammation of the joints from arthritis is characterized by joint stiffness, swelling, redness, and warm. Tenderness of the inflamed joint can be present.
Many of the forms of arthritis, because they are rheumatic diseases, can involve symptoms affecting various organs of the body that do not directly involve the joints. Therefore, symptoms in some patients with arthritis can also include nonspecific fever, weight loss, fatigue, and feeling unwell.
Who is affected by arthritis?
Arthritis sufferers include men and women, children and adults. Approximately 350 million people worldwide have arthritis. Nearly 40 million persons in the United States are affected by arthritis, including over a quarter million children!
Make Sure You Really Have Osteoarthritis
It is absolutely essential that you make sure your diagnosis is correct before you begin wasting money on treatments that are not designed to help your specific situation.
There is only one way to know for certain that you are suffering from osteoarthritis. (OA) The diagnostic tool is a CT-scan. If you have not had the affected area scanned, any broad sweeping statement from a physician that you have osteoarthritis is simply the wrong way to approach it.
Since there are approximately 100 different types of medical conditions that can affect your joints, it will be difficult to treat your condition effectively unless you know exactly what is ailing you.
Searching For Just Arthritis Pain Relief? You Shouldn't!
Doctors are very quick to address your joint pain with what has become a "standard" response. Normally, they tell you to take NSAIDS like Aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Ibuprofen, and Acetaminophen, or prescribe COX-2 inhibitors such as Vioxx and Celebrex.
Will these give you pain relief? Yes, you will obtain some pain relief using them. However, they also can cause a wide range of undesirable side effects from ulcers to heart disease to liver damage. Even more importantly, and you need to consider this fact, the use of these NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors do not halt the progress of osteoarthritis and new research is showing they may even hasten the onset of the disease.
You Can Take Control of Arthritis Pain
- Pay attention to symptoms, see your doctor and get an accurate diagnosis - If you have pain, stiffness or swelling in or around a joint for more than two weeks, it's time to see your doctor. These symptoms can develop suddenly or slowly. Only a doctor can tell if it's arthritis. But "you have arthritis" is not a diagnosis. Ask for a specific diagnosis of the type of arthritis you have. There are more than 100 types, each of which has different treatments. Getting the right treatment requires getting the right diagnosis.
- Start early - The earlier an accurate diagnosis is made and treatment started, the better. Early treatment can often mean less joint damage and less pain. Your doctor may recommend a combination of treatments that may include medication, weight management, exercise, use of heat or cold, and methods to protect your joints from further damage. See your doctor for an early diagnosis and immediate treatment plan!
Protect your joints - Avoid excess stress on your joints. Use larger or stronger joints to carry things. Assistive devices can make tasks at home and work easier. Staying close to your recommended weight also helps relieve damaging pressure on hips and knees.
- Get moving - Exercise helps lessen pain, increases range of movement, reduces fatigue and helps you feel better overall. Your doctor, a physical therapist, or other specially trained health professionals can show you range-of-motion exercises and strengthening exercises that are good for arthritis.
- Tune in - Listening to your favorite music can lighten your mood and may even help you to forget your pain at least for a little while. Make a tape of your favorite upbeat tunes and listen to it when you need a lift.
- Pick, pour or peel - If you are looking for a tasty healthy treat, reach for an orange or a tall glass of orange juice. Why? Recent research has shown the importance of vitamin C and other antioxidants in reducing the risk of osteoarthritis and its progression. Another bonus: oranges and other citrus fruits are good sources of folic acid, which can help alleviate the side effects of the arthritis drug methotrexate and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in women who have lupus.
- Check out your options - If your current medication isnt working as well as youd like or if its causing unacceptable side effects ask your doctor about new treatment options.
- Let yourself go - On vacation, that is. Make yours a good one by remembering to bring extra medication, a spare prescription, insurance card, comfortable shoes, your doctors phone number and, of course, your camera.
- Face facts - Learn something new about arthritis. Building an understanding of your disease is an important step in managing it. Start by ordering some of our free brochures
- Play in the dirt - Buy the seeds for three of your favorite veggies or flowers and plant a garden. Digging in the dirt can be therapeutic for sore hands and can yield beautiful and fragrant or delicious and nutritious results.
- Have a good laugh - Read a book of jokes, rent a funny movie or watch your favorite sit-com or stand-up comedian. Laughing even when you feel like crying from agony can relax muscles, relieve pain and even boost your immune system.
- Play it safe in the sun - Protect yourself when you go out into the sun wear sunglasses, a hat and sun screen. Some forms of arthritis, as well as certain medications, can leave you more vulnerable to the suns harmful rays.
- Do Tell - Take an opportunity to tell someone co-worker, friend, and family member about arthritis. Start with an interesting fact: Did you know that arthritis affects 70 million people? Then go from there. Theyll understand you and the way arthritis affects your life a little better. Or share your feelings with others who have arthritis.
- Resolve to reduce - Lose weight. You wont just look better, youll feel better, too. Why? Every extra pound you carry around translates to added stress to your knees and hips. Excess weight can mean more pain, no matter which form of arthritis you have. It can also contribute to and aggravate osteoarthritis, while increasing your risk of gout.
- Bone up - Stock up on your favorite source of calcium. A diet rich in this important mineral can help decrease your risk of osteoporosis. If you dont like drinking milk or want some variety try consuming more milk products, such as yogurt, cheese and ice cream. Or add powdered milk to puddings, gravies, shakes and other recipes. Other good sources of calcium: broccoli, salmon (with the bones) and kale.
- Do drugs the right way - Take your medication just as your doctor prescribes. If youre tempted to stop because you feel its not working or you believe its causing side effects, call your doctor first. It can take weeks or even months for the full benefits of a medication to become apparent, and some side effects ease over time. Stopping a medication abruptly may not only cause you to miss out on its benefits in some cases it can be downright dangerous.
- Begin with breakfast - Put up the pastry and grab some fruit, fiber (like oatmeal) and a tall glass of water instead of coffee. Like youve always heard, a healthful breakfast is a great way to start the day. Our free brochure on diet and arthritis can tell you more about healthier eating.
- Try this on for size - Its time to toss those fashionable, yet oh, so uncomfortable pumps that cramp your toes, rub your heels and squeeze your bunions. A well padded, well fitting shoe with plenty of room for your toes and their imperfections can make a world of difference in the way your feet (and the rest of you) feel.
- Take a hike - Choose your favorite spots (indoors and out) and make plans to walk them at least once a week. Walking is the ideal exercise for most people with arthritis. It burns calories, strengthens muscles and builds denser bones all without jarring fragile joints.
- Sit, soak and soothe - A warm bath before bed can relieve muscle tension, ease aching joints and help you get a good nights sleep. Try our free brochure on ways to managing your pain for more ideas.
- Treat your muscles - Find a certified massage therapist and treat yourself to a good rub down. The benefits vary from person to person but may include decreased pain and increased circulation, energy and flexibility. And besides, it just feels good.
- Work smarter - Do something that will make your job easier check into working flex hours, telecommuting or working part-time. No matter where or when you work, take frequent breaks to stretch stiff joints and sore muscles.
- Fess up - Be sure to tell your doctor about the medications youre taking, both prescription and over the counter. Dont forget to mention any nutritional supplements youre taking, too. All medications even natural ones have the potential to cause side effects or to react adversely with each other.
- Write away - Keeping a journal is fun and therapeutic. Best of all, there are no rules. Write about your feelings, fears, frustrations and fun times. Write about things youd never tell another living soul. Write about anything or nothing in particular. Just write.
- Stretch your legs - Stretching is a simple way to keep joints and muscles flexible. It relieves stress and can help enable you to maintain your daily activities. Try this to keep your calf muscles strong and flexible: Stand two feet from a wall, with your toes pointed inward palms against the wall. Keeping your knees straight and feet flat, lean forward onto your hands without bending at the waist. Feel your calf muscles pull and extend. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then gently push away from the wall. Repeat.
- Take the plunge - Exercising in the water can build strength and increase range of motion, while the waters buoyancy reduces wear and tear on sore joints. Check the local YMCA or call your local Arthritis Foundation office for an aquatic exercise program in your area.
- Make a pack - When joints are hot and inflamed, applying something cold can decrease pain and swelling by constricting blood vessels and preventing fluids from leaking into surrounding tissues. Our favorite ice pack: a bag of frozen peas or corn that can be molded to the shape of your body.
- Kick butt - If only for a day, and then another and another. Smoking can increase your risk of complications from lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It can predispose you to osteoporosis. Also, if you have to undergo joint surgery, smoking can prolong your recovery.
- Open your heart - Select a group that holds a special place in your heart the elderly, the homeless, animals and volunteer with an organization that helps them. Or raise money for a cause you believe in. Helping others can be a great way to help you forget your own problems or at least put them into perspective.
- Enjoy Your Exercise - Take the work out of working out. Sign up for a class that makes exercise fun country line dancing, ballroom dancing, swimming, yoga or tai chi.
- Play 20 questions - Well, maybe not 20, but write down questions about your condition or your medications as you think of them. Prioritize them and slip them into your purse or wallet before your next doctors visit. When you see the doctor, youll have your top concerns at your fingertips.
- Appeal to a higher power - No one knows exactly how, but research is showing that spiritual belief and prayer can help people feel better physically and emotionally.
- Turn the other cheek - Looking good helps you feel good. If an arthritis-related condition or its treatment has caused a rash on or tightening or swelling of your face, check at the cosmetics counter of your local department store for tips or special products to camouflage these problems and give your cheeks a healthy looking glow.
- Try to keep your weight down. Too much weight can make your knees and hips hurt.
- Exercise - Moving all of your joints will help you. The doctor or nurse can help you select safe activities. Try going for a walk every day.
- See your doctor regularly. Seek information that can help you.
- Take your medicines when and how you are supposed to. They can help reduce pain and stiffness.
- Sometimes you might still have pain after using your medicine. Here are some things to try:
- Take a warm shower.
- Do some gentle stretching exercises.
- Use an ice pack on the sore area.
- Rest the sore joint.
If you still hurt after using your medicine correctly and doing one or more of these things, call your doctor. Another kind of medicine might work better for you. Some people can also benefit from surgery, such as joint replacement.
Stopping the progress of your arthritis as well as stopping your pain should be your goal. How do you reach this goal? Well, this is a four-step process
- Mental Attitude
The Arthritis Fighting Diet
Lets begin by listing some food items that you should avoid. While there are over 100 different types of arthritis, they all have one thing in common. One or more of the food items listed will be an allergy food for the arthritis sufferer.
The most common culprits are:
- red meat
- dairy products
- soft drinks
- red peppers
- white potatoes
- tobaccoIf you do eat any of these foods, pay attention to any reaction you might have in the next 24 hours. If you notice a reaction, you are indeed allergic to that food item.
It is difficult to believe but every time you drink a (regular) soda, you are consuming 11-13 teaspoons of sugar. (Some of you may remember that old trick of putting a penny in a glass of soda. It corrodes that penny to the point of virtual destruction. In short, soda is not something that you should be drinking on a regular basis if you are concerned about arthritis.
Read the labels contained on the foods you are buying in your local grocery. Be especially careful and avoid as much food as possible that contains preservative and/or additives. (Take an extra careful look at labels on ice cream and candy for example.) The more natural your diet in terms of the food you eat, the greater your chances are of defeating arthritis.
Those meals you buy that can just be popped into the oven are also something you should avoid if possible. Some contain as much as 1200 mg of sodium and as much as 60 mg of cholesterol. (You might consider some of the other health factors at play here and not just your arthritis.)
Fighting Arthritis Through Proper Exercise!
The favorite targets of osteoarthritis are your hands, hips, knees, feet and spine. That does not mean that any or all of those other joints are immune from attack. It is not unusual for doctors to say things like "take it easy on that joint." In other words, they are really saying they don't want you to "exercise" the affected area.
Their intentions may be good but it is also not good advice. As best you can, try to keep painful joint areas in motion, even in a limited manner. Exercise is good for joints affected by osteoarthritis. Even if you don't think you can exercise, you can. Even the lightest exercise can go along way to maintaining joint mobility and health. A good exercise routine is key to beating arthritis.
Ingredients that Will Ease Your Arthritis Pain
- In alleviating arthritis pain, there are twelve key compounds that you should be taking for maximum relief. These are glucosamine, chondroitin, boswellin, bromelain, omega 3 & 6, yucca, manganese ascorbate, and vitamins A, C, and E.
- When used together, studies have shown tremendous results are possible in easing arthritis pain. Unlike dangerous Cox-2 inhibitors and NSAIDs, the below ingredients have no side effects, are natural and safe.
- Glucosamine is a natural sugar produced by the body and found in certain foods. It plays an important role in the production, maintenance, and repair of cartilage. It stimulates the production of glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans, two essential building blocks of cartilage.
- Chondroitin sulfate reduces inflammation and assists the glucosamine in protecting against future cartilage degeneration.
- Shark cartilage is a source of chondroitin sulfate. It drives the glucosamine and provides maximum absorption. Also, in many trials it has reduced the possibility of developing cancer. Bovine Trachea can also be used as a source of chondroitin. However, there is a risk of BSE with this. (Mad Cow Disease).
- Bromelain cleans away the "debris" in the joints and restores proper fluid balance. In addition, it helps to inhibit inflammatory compounds plus reduces pain and swelling.
- Boswellin has been used for centuries in the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine to maintain healthy joints. Boswellic acids improve blood supply to the joints and maintain the integrity of blood vessels. At least one study has indicated that they may open up collateral blood circulation to provide adequate blood supply to the joints. Boswellin has been known to reduce joint swelling, maintain blood supply to inflamed joints, and mobility as well as reduce pain due to stiffness in the joints.
- Ascorbate (Manganese and ascorbic acid) assists your body with processing the glucosamine. This is a very important ingredient and one that is missing in nearly every glucosamine product on the market today.
- Yucca has a long history in easing stiff joints by blocking compounds that prevent normal formation of cartilage. The root is rich in saponins that elevate your body's ability to produce cortisone naturally.
- The Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docasahexaenoic acid) are constituents of fish oils that act as anti-inflammatory agents. Usually, these products are sold separately in health food stores as salmon or fish oil. Syn-flex®brings both of these to you in one formula.
- Vitamin A (Beta carotene) is essential for growth and repair of body tissues and it aids in bone formation.
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) produces a mobilization of your body's self-defense mechanisms, which assists your immune system to overcome disease.
- Vitamin E (Tocopheral) is an antioxidant, which acts to protect red blood cells and unsaturated fatty acids from oxidation damage. It also assists your body in maintaining healthy membrane tissue.
- In addition, Vitamin A, C, and E all promote general health and protect against the harmful effect of free radicals.General Tips
- Rest sore joints. Avoid activities tha tput weight or strain on the sore joints for a fews days. Take short rest breaks from your regular activies throughout the day.
- Apply cold packs to inflamed, swollen joints for 10 to 15 minutes, once and hour. Cold will help relive pain and reduce inflammation.
- Enroll in an arthritis self-management program. Participants usually have less pain and few limitations on their activities.
- Wear well-cusioned shoes and avoid high heels.
- Take mini-breaks to stretch muscles around joints.
- Avoid being in the same position for long periods at a time.
Disclaimer: The Arthritis Tips / Information presented and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Tips And Treats . com and/or its partners.
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