An Introduction to Arthritis

By: Tara Smith

When you woke up this morning, did you feel stiffer than normal? Did you find it hard to motivate yourself to move, and feel like you had been through a long and extensive workout in the gym? Did your joints feel unresponsive and sore, and gripping your morning coffee feel difficult? If so, you may be experiencing the first signs of arthritis. If this is the case, what can you do about it?

Osteoarthritis is sometimes called degenerative arthritis. The impact of it is felt on the weight bearing joints, hips, knees and back. It also frequently occurs in the joints of the hand and knuckles. Osteoarthritis is the deterioration of the cartilage that protects the ends of bones. It is mostly caused due to wear and tear from ageing, diet and lifestyle, though sometimes it may occur due to injury. This type of arthritis rarely occurs before age 40, and affects nearly everyone over 60 years.

Osteoarthritis – this is caused when the surrounding cartilage, due to it wasting away, no longer protects the bones. This can happen either through injury, old age or simple wear and tear. Also known as degenerative arthritis, this usually affects the knees, back and hips, although the knuckles of your hands can be affected too. This type of arthritis is most common amongst people over the age of sixty, and can start from age forty onwards.

Rheumatoid arthritis is determined by using a combination of medical tests. While a blood test will indicate the probability of the presence of the disease, X-rays, MRI scans and bone scans are used to visualize the joints to check the severity and progression of arthritis. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, the doctors have a wide variety of treatment options to slow the progression and maintain mobility. They choose the one that promises the best results depending on other aspects of the patient’s health.

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, a wide variety of treatment options are available to slow the progression and maintain mobility. Arthritis has been around since the beginning of time, and there is ongoing research being done to find a cure. The Arthritis Society funds and tracks ongoing research trials, as well as the latest breakthroughs on the medical front. They publish these latest finding on their website, as well as in their newsletter. If you have arthritis, you might want to research their website.

Alternate medicines have been found to be quite beneficial for arthritis. This includes physical therapy, whirlpool treatments, thermotherapy (moist heat), and joint exercises are used to increase mobility and prevent complications. Cold gel packs can relieve the pain of inflamed joints. A hot morning shower will often relieve morning stiffness.

You can reduce inflammation through certain foods in a natural way. For instance, a daily dose of 20 tart red cherries or fresh pineapple can relieve pain and inflammation. If you add asparagus, eggs, garlic and onions to your diet, you will be able to help your body repair and rebuild bone and cartilage. Other beneficial foods include leafy green vegetables, non-acidic fresh fruits, oatmeal, brown rice and fish.

You also need to watch out for allergies; they can trigger inflammation, and aggravate arthritis symptoms. So, if you have neck and back pain you must eliminate certain foods that you are allergic to. Of course, there is nothing like regular, moderate exercise, such as walking or swimming for reducing pain and slowing the deterioration of joints. If you have excess weight, you need to work on it but when doing in any strenuous physical activity, remember to take rest in between so that you keep your strength, without damaging your joints.

If you suspect that you might have arthritis, make an appointment with your doctor to find out for sure. The sooner you start taking care of your joints, the better.

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