Secret #1 – What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis literally means, “joint inflammation”. A joint is a location where 2 bones come together. Inflammation is the body’s response to tissue damage. the most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The symptoms of arthritis usually develop over time, but they may also appear suddenly.
In osteoarthritis, the cartilage (the rubbery substance that cushions the joints between the bones) begins to break down and leaves the joint area unprotected.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints. In some people, the condition also can damage a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels.
An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues.
Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.
Secret #2 – Can My Arthritis Travel From One Joint to Another Part of My Body?
There are two common forms of arthritis. The first is osteoarthritis and is typically referred to as “OA”. When most people talk about having arthritis in their knee, back or neck, they are talking about this type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs in one joint.
The second common type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. The primary difference is that rheumatoid arthritis affects the entire body…all joints at the same time.
To answer the question, arthritis cannot travel from joint to joint…but one joint can be inflamed one day and another the next…the arthritis is still there though in both joints.
Secret #3 – Does What I Eat Affect My Arthritis?
According to the Arthritis Foundation, these are 7 Food ingredient that can cause inflammation.
- Trans fat: Triggers systemic inflammation and can be found in fast foods and fried product. Avoid foot with partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient labels.
- Omega 6 fatty acids– an essential fatty acid that the body needs for normal growth and development. Excess consumption of omega 6s can trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals. These fatty acids are found in oil such as corn, safflower, grapeseed, soy, peanuts, and vegetables
- Refined Carbohydrates– White fours products such as bed, roll and cracker, white rice, white potatoes
- MSG- Monosodium glutamate is a flavor enhancing food additive most commonly found in prepared Asia food and soy sauce. But it can also be added to Fast foods, prepared soups, soup mixes, deli meat, and salad dressing. This chemical can trigger two important pathways of chronic inflammation and affect liver health.
- Gluten and Casein– People who have joint pain and are sensitive to gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye or casein found in dairy products, may find relief by avoiding them.
- Alcohol is a burden to the liver. Excessive use weakens liver function and disrupts other multi-organ interactions and can cause inflammation. It is best eliminated or used in moderation.
3 well-written books on this topic say essentially the same message: “We are what we eat.” Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, and Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell Esselstyn, recommend diets high in nutrients (think green leafy vegetables).
Cutting back on foods that promote inflammation, increasing the proportion of fruits and vegetables in your diet, making fish your main protein and getting more omega-3s can make a big difference in your arthritis symptoms.
Secret #4 – If I Do More Exercise, Won’t That Wear Away My Cartilage?
Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming or biking, improves joint health. Think, “Use it or lose it”. Most doctors recommend at least 30 minutes/day of light to moderately intense exercise 6 days per week. Finding an exercise you enjoy and look forward to is the key to keeping your joints young and limber.
A big fear of arthritis sufferers tends to be getting to the point where they have “bone on bone” and may need a surgery. As we age, it is true the space between our joints decreases. (This is one of the reasons we tend to be shorter at 80 years than 25 years). Doing nothing speeds up this process. Exercise helps to maintain this space and improves joint health.
Secret #5 – What Is the Biggest Mistake Most People Make About Their Arthritis?
“It’s just old age” or “Everyone has arthritis” usually are socially acceptable excuses for not doing anything about arthritis pain. And “doing nothing” is about the biggest possible mistake a person can make for arthritis pain.
Secret #6 – So What Can I Do About My Arthritis Pain?
You have 3 choices of how you can handle your arthritis pain:
- Ignore it. (usually by making excuses)
- Try to change it.
- Handle the cause of arthritis.
Secret #7 With So Many Treatment Options, How Do I Know Which One I Should Do?
Here is a simple, effective tool to help you make the healthiest decisions for your body:
- Hands-on Physical Therapy
Here’s an example of how you use the tool.
In this example, “Mary” is a woman in her sixties who suffer from lower back arthritis. She has back and legs pain when she walks for more than 5 or 10 minutes. The pain goes away when she sits down.
So the first thing Mary does to handle the cause of her arthritis is #1 Movement. This is exercise. She knows a good therapist at Excel Physical Therapy and consults her for an exercise program to do to help her lower back arthritis. The therapist prescribes exercises for Mary to do…
Now one of two things can happen. First, the exercises could do the trick. When this is the case, Mary is done exploring treatment options because she has successfully handled the cause of her lower back pain and arthritis and can walk again without pain. OR…
The exercises may not change anything for Mary at all…
When this is the case, the next thing Mary should do is #2 Hands-on PT. What’s Hands-on PT? Hands-on PT is relying on outside forces to change the body and get it to move better. So, after a thorough exam, Mary’s therapist does some of the latest hands-on therapy techniques and sets Mary up on a Traction treatment program for lower back arthritis.
Again, one of two things will happen. The traction and hands-on therapy will do the trick OR Mary may need a medication to take the edge off the pain and help her get moving again…
And so on down the line…of treatment options. Luckily, most people can handle the cause of their pain and arthritis with the first several steps.
Need More Answers For Your Arthritis?
CALL TANDEM REHAB at 240-813-3442
My life revolves around health and fitness. As a young child, I enjoyed the different style of dance. As an adult, I became a physical therapist. I helped people recover from injuries, pain or surgery. I also enjoy working out in my spare time. So I started teaching group fitness classes.
This blog is all about health, fitness, and healthy lifestyle.