If you’re wake up in the morning feeling stiff or get an aching sensation deep in your bones just before it’s about to rain, you’re not alone. Arthritis, an inflammation of the joints that can cause both joint pain and damage, affects more than 52 million adults and 300,000 children in the U.S. In fact, it is the leading cause of disability in the country.
What is arthritis?
There are more than 100 known types of rheumatic diseases and other conditions that are collectively termed “arthritis,” though osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are among the most common.
Symptoms of arthritis include
- joint pain
- decreased range of motion
- redness around the joint
Symptoms can come on slowly and be mild, or begin suddenly and cause intense pain.
Arthritis is most common in women, people over 65 and those who are overweight. It also tends to be prevalent in people who have had a previous joint injury or who have a family history of arthritis. While arthritis can cause permanent and visible joint changes, including knobby finger joints, quite often the damage caused can only be seen by X-ray.
Osteoarthritis vs. rheumatoid arthritis
While osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis both have symptoms that affect the joints, they are totally different conditions. Osteoarthritis is primarily a degenerative disease that involves wear-and-tear damage to the cartilage that caps the bones in your joints, which can often result in bone grinding on bone. Symptoms include joint pain and progressive stiffness that develops gradually. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. The body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule, called the synovial membrane, that protects and lubricates the joints. Symptoms include painful swelling, inflammation and stiffness in the fingers, arms, legs and wrist that occur in the same joints on both sides of the body, especially upon waking.
While there is no sure-fire way to prevent arthritis, there are things you can do to limit your risk. For example, maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent osteoarthritis, while refraining from smoking can reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. In general, exercising and eating a healthy diet can help reduce your risk of developing painful joints as you get older.
For women, trading-in high heels for a more joint-friendly shoe can help prevent or slow-down arthritis. So can choosing low-impact exercises like biking or swimming over high-impact exercises that can wear down your joints and cartilage faster. And don’t forget to stay hydrated! The cartilage in our joints is mostly made up of water, which makes it a great cushion. When we’re dehydrated, cartilage can get more easily damaged by wear and tear.
You are what you eat
Damage from arthritis is progressive, so the sooner you take preventative steps, the better. Certain foods have been shown to fight inflammation, strengthen bones and boost the immune system, all of which can help prevent or ease the symptoms of arthritis. They include:
Make sure to eat fish rich in inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring.
Tofu and edamame have inflammation-busting benefits that can help with rheumatoid arthritis.
Studies show that anthocyanins found in cherries have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Adding low-fat dairy products to your diet can give you the vitamin D and calcium you need to increase bone strength and boost the immune system.
Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane, which researchers believe could help prevent or slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
- Green Tea
Green tea is packed with polyphenols that are believed to reduce inflammation and slow cartilage destruction. Studies also reveal that green tea contains an antioxidant that blocks the production of molecules that cause joint damage in people with RA.
- Grain and Beans
Grains like oatmeal, brown rice and whole-grain cereals lower C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood, which is a marker of inflammation. Red, kidney and pinto beans are also known to lower CRP as well as build the immune system.
Research shows that people who regularly eat garlic showed fewer signs of early osteoarthritis.
Nuts contain immune-boosting alpha linolenic acid, so stock up!
We understand your pain
If you have arthritis, taking steps to protect your joints from ongoing pain and permanent damage is important. At Pain Management and Injury Relief, we can diagnose, treat and rehabilitate the underlying causes of your pain. If you’d like to learn more about the options we offer, call PMIR at (877) 724-6349 to make an appointment today.