• 06 MAY 13
    • 0
    May is Arthritis Awareness Month

    arthritis in jointsArthritis is more common than you think. At University Orthopaedic Associates (UOA) our specialists can help you determine what procedures are right for you to reduce or even eliminate your arthritis symptoms, so you can live an active, pain-free life.

    Forty six million Americans currently live with arthritis. With aging baby boomers, the prevalence of arthritis is expected to rise by 40 percent, or up to 67 million people, by the year 2030. This translates to direct and indirect medical costs caused by this disease which are estimated to be $128 billion each year.

    The term arthritis comes from the Greek “arthros,” which means a joint and its attachments, and “-itis” which means inflammation. Arthritis is actually a complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that can affect people of all ages, races and genders.

    Despite common belief, arthritis is not simply a disease of old age. In fact, two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65, including 300,000 children. This makes arthritis the leading cause of disability in the United States.

    There are several important lifestyle steps you can undertake to prevent, limit or alleviate symptoms of arthritis.

    The first is to maintain a healthy weight. Common forms of arthritis are aggravated by being overweight. Consider for example, that for every pound of weight loss results in four pounds of pressure taken off each knee. That’s significant relief, not to mention the other positive health changes of losing extra weight.

    Exercise is a cornerstone in the treatment of osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis that mostly affects cartilage. In fact, according to at least one report, exercise, such as walking, was just as effective in reducing knee pain as drugs commonly used to alleviate symptoms.

    Exercise (good choices are walking, swimming, biking, yoga) has been shown to result in…

    • Less pain and stiffness
    • Increased joint strength and range of movement
    • Improved function and ability to do activities
    • Potential delay in disease progression

    Why Does Exercise Help?

    Exercise strengthens the muscles around joints and keeps them flexible. Strong, flexible muscles do a better job supporting and stabilizing joints than weak muscles. Strong muscles also relieve pain and prevent the pain from activity. Exercise also loosens stiff joints, preserving ease and range of movement. Finally, exercise that revs up your heart and breathing releases brain chemicals that reduce pain and make you feel good while helping to make or keep you fit.

    In the case of osteoarthritis (OA), one theory is that exercise somehow protects joints from the damaging effects of the disease. In a review of 28 studies of knee OA, exercise was found to be associated with an increased amount of cartilage within knee joints and fewer cartilage defects. Another study discovered a surge of anti-inflammatory activity within the knee joints of women with knee OA immediately after performing intensive quadriceps (thigh muscle) strengthening exercises. While further research is needed to fully understand the effects of exercise on joints affected by OA, these are nonetheless encouraging findings.

    What Can You Do?

    • Educate yourself about arthritis.
    • Be physically active.
    • Protect your joints.

    The Effect of Diet on Arthritis

    Since the 1930′s researchers have been exploring the link between diet and arthritis. Gout is considered the only type of arthritis than can be directly related to diet, and it is widely acknowledged that arthritis medications (such as corticosteroids) can also affect or be affected by diet. Beyond that, theories and recommendations abound on ‘arthritis diet’ and/or vitamin and mineral supplements. While it is clear that a generally healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight is key, it is best to consult with a medical professional for more personalized advice and recommendations in this area.

    Source: Arthritis.org

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