Keep Arthritis at Bay

Arthritis in fingers or hand

As we get older, we start to notice the simple act of movement becomes more difficult. This is usually caused by Arthritis, an inflammation of your joints that causes stiffness and pain. Contrary to popular belief, children can also suffer from Arthritis. There are two main types of Arthritis which affect around 10 million people in the UK alone. [1]

The first type is Osteoarthritis which is a deterioration of the smooth cartilage in your joints. It affects over eight million men and women in the UK over the age of 50 and is caused by general wear and tear. The smooth cartilage acts as a lubricant for your joints, as without it your bones will grind together. As Osteoarthritis gets worse, it gradually becomes harder to move due to joint stiffness and pain. [2]

The second type of Arthritis is Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is caused by the body’s immune system attacking the smooth cartilage in your joints. This is because the body’s immune system gets confused and views the cartilage as a foreign entity, like a virus or bacteria. Rheumatoid Arthritis effects over 400,000 men and women over the age of 50, but is three times more likely to effect women than it is men. [3]

How to Prevent Arthritis

Taking measures to prevent arthritis does not mean you will never fall victim to it. Osteoarthritis is caused by general wear and tear of the smooth cartilage that lubricates your joints. The following measures should be used to lower the risk of Arthritis in later life.

  1. Control Your Weight

The joints in your legs are essential to supporting your body weight. If you are overweight or obese, you are putting excess strain on your knees and leg joints. This can take a real toll on your body and increase the chances of Arthritis. By reducing the stress placed on your knees (as well as your hips and feet) you can lower the risk of Arthritis. You can also increase your mobility whilst decreasing joint pain. The best way to control your weight is to engage in a healthy active lifestyle, which comes with many other health benefits.

  1. Exercise

Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent Arthritis. By engaging in an active lifestyle, you are maintaining flexibility in your joints. Exercise also strengthens the muscles around your joints, meaning they bear less stress in day to day activities. It is important to mix aerobic activities such as swimming, with muscle strengthening exercises like low impact weight training. It is also very important that you stretch properly, this will maintain your flexibility and your range of motion.

  1. Protect Your Joints

By understanding how daily activities effect your body, and how to prevent damage to your joints, you are able to reduce the risk of Arthritis. There are many simple activities that we take for granted, and do not use the right technique when completing.  One such activity is lifting heavy objects from the floor. Many people do not use their legs when they lift, as they do not realise the problems it can cause in the future. It is also important to support your joints when sitting or lying for long periods of time. This can be achieved by sitting properly at a desk (see our back pain blog for details) and sleeping in a supportive position.

Arthritic Pain Relief

If you are at a stage in life where you already suffer from Arthritis, you will probably be looking for ways to ease your pain. Managing Arthritis pain is the best way to ensure that you aren’t bogged down by stiffness and sore joints. If you are happy to self-medicate, there are varying medicines which can help you. There is also a specific class of pain killers which are manufactured for inflammatory pains. They are called NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and include over the counter drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen.

If you do not like the idea of taking pain killers, then there are many other ways to alleviate your pain. These alternative treatments generally follow the same rules as the preventative measures we talked about earlier. The best way to strengthen your muscles, improve mobility, and maintain flexibility is to have a healthy active lifestyle. This in turn reduces joint stiffness and Arthritic pain.

Hot/Cold Treatments

Using hot and cold treatments is a remedy for swelling that has existed for years. Because of this, it can make a world of difference when used to treat arthritis pain. Hot treatments include the use of hot baths, heat blankets, and heating pads to keep your joints loose and prevent stiffness. You should use hot treatments when you wake up or when you go to bed, this is to ensure your joints are loose and mobile throughout the day.

Cold treatments are best used to treat arthritic joint pains rather than to ease stiffness. By using cold treatments, you can reduce swelling around a joint making it less painful for you to move. When experiencing joint pain, put a gel ice pack or some frozen vegetables wrapped up in a towel directly on the joint. This will give you quick joint pain relief.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese pain remedy that uses tiny needles to put pressure on certain points of the body. These needles are placed in pressure points, which many believe will cause the body to release endorphins (the body’s natural pain killer). Acupuncture is an alternative to self-medication, but must be conducted by a trained acupuncture specialist. If you are afraid of needles, then you do not need to worry. There is a version of acupuncture that uses fingers, knuckles, and palms to apply pressure to the various point of your body. For more information, please visit our dedicated acupuncture page.

Arthritis can be a debilitating ailment if you are an aging person. The joint pain that it causes can affect your day to day life, and make even the smallest of movements a difficult job. Here at Active Health Clinics, we understand the pain that Arthritis can cause. We have a dedicated team of chiropractors and experienced practitioners, who are here to help treat your joint pain. We offer a range of safe treatments performed by qualified professionals in areas such as acupuncture, remedial massage and many more. For more information about how Active Health Clinics can help you treat your Arthritis, then please feel free to contact us on 01628 626565.

[1] – http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Arthritis/pages/introduction.aspx
[2] – http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/osteoarthritis/Pages/Introduction.aspx
[3] – http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/Pages/Introduction.aspx