Arthritis: What is it?
Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. There are over 100 different types, however, the two most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Symptoms typically develop over time, but could occasionally appear more suddenly. Arthritis is most often seen in adults over the age of 65. It is more common among women than men, and often seen in people who are overweight.
The main symptoms of arthritis include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, a decrease in range of motion, and redness around the joint. With RA, additional symptoms such as loss of appetite, anemia, joint deformities (if left untreated), and fever might be present.
There are several common causes of arthritis:
- Cartilage is a connective tissue that protects joints by absorbing pressure when we move. A reduction in the normal amount of cartilage can cause some types of arthritis.
- RA is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when our body’s immune system attacks tissues of the body. These attacks affect soft tissues in joints that usually produces fluid that nourishes cartilage and provides lubrication. RA can eventually lead to the destruction of the bone and cartilage inside of the joint.
- Normal wear and tear can cause OA. The risk of developing OA can be higher if there is a family history of the disease.
The main goal of treating arthritis is to reduce the amount of pain and prevent further damage to the joints. Your physician may recommend a combination of treatment methods to acquire the best results. The following are some of the treatment methods most commonly used:
- Physical Therapy
- Heating pads and ice packs.
- Canes or walkers to help take pressure off of joints.
Being overweight increases the load put on your knee, hip, and ankle joints. Over time, this extra weight and pressure increase the risk of developing arthritis. A recent study of overweight and obese adults with knee osteoarthritis found that losing one pound of weight resulted in four pounds of pressure being removed from the knees. Losing just 10 pounds would take off 40 pounds of pressure from your knees. Taking off this pressure can help ease pain and lower inflammation levels in the body.
Adopting a healthy diet is essential for losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight. Certain foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts can help reduce inflammation in the body.
Establishing a regular exercise routine can help with weight loss and also helps to keep joints flexible. For those who have arthritis, engaging in a non-weight bearing form of exercise, such as swimming, is recommended. This type of activity places less pressure and stress on joints.
If you are interested in losing weight and adopting a healthy diet and exercise lifestyle, call your closest BlueSky MD office to schedule an appointment with our wellness team.