It is estimated that 43 million Americans battle the debilitating effects of arthritis everyday. This has far reaching implications not only for those directly affected, but also for our nation as whole in terms of health care costs. As our population continues to age and other health issues such as obesity come into play, the number of those affected by arthritis continues to rise.
There are two major classes of arthritis. The most common is called osteoarthritis (OA) and occurs when there is a breakdown in cartilage around one or more joints in the body. The second category of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), characterized by an immune system attack on the joints in the body causing hot, painful swelling, and deformity.
Aside from genetic contributors in determining those who may be affected by OA and RA, there are prevention strategies you can employ to reduce your risk of developing these conditions. The following tips should be considered a starting place in your efforts to beat arthritis.
- Reevaluate your diet: Nutritional recommendations for a healthy diet are especially important for those with arthritis. A healthy diet should be abundant in whole grains, legumes, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables. For those with arthritis, it is critical to include minimally five servings of Omega-3 fatty acids per week. The anti-inflammatory properties of Omega-3 oils are key components in an anti-arthritis diet and provide natural pain reduction.
It is also important to eliminate consumption of processed foods. Processed foods (like snacks and prepared packaged food) are packed with certain inflammatory Omega-6 oils, including such oils as cottonseed oil, peanut oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil.
- Consult with your physician: There has been much press about supplements to ease the effects of arthritis. Some of these supplements include glucosamine, chondroitin, and increasing intake of such vitamins as A, C, D, and E to name a few. While supplements may prove beneficial in some cases, it is best to discuss these options with your doctor prior to starting a supplement regime. Some supplements may interact with prescription medications, so it is not wise to jump in without seeking advice first. With a healthy diet, it may not be necessary to take additional vitamins at all.
Prescription anti-inflammatory medications may also be prescribed for those already experiencing the effects of arthritis. These drugs are useful in keeping symptoms in check, so that OA and RA suffers can pursue a more normal and symptom free life.
- Get moving: Mistakenly many with arthritis assume that exercise is precluded and veer towards a sedentary life. Exercise is a critical component in the battle against arthritis. The benefits of regular exercise include a reduction in joint pain, stiffness, increased flexibility, improved stamina and strength. Exercise not only fights off arthritis, but also results in better overall well being by improving sleep, aiding in weight control, and improving your psychological outlook. After discussing this with your doctor, it is best to start out slowly and move to more rigorous activities as permitted. Many arthritis sufferers find swimming to be a great starting place, and then move on to activities like golf, yoga and weight training.
The information detailed here, though by no means an all-inclusive list of recommendations, will help with the prevention and control of arthritis. In order to get a jump-start on beating arthritis, it is critical to make some simple changes in your diet, lifestyle and activity level. You need not quietly suffer the effects of arthritis; there is much you can do to prevent arthritis or keep it in check.