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ARTHRITIS

The Facts Put Simply


Learn About Arthritis... 
So You Can Fight Back!

Arthritis is actually a general term that refers to more than 100 diseases that cause pain, stiffness and swelling from the inflammation of a joint or the area around joints.

At its most basic level, it involves the breakdown of cartilage within joints. The result of which is often pain, swelling, and limited movement.

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Subject matter Quick Links for this page…

1) Arthritis facts
2) Who is at risk to get Arthritis?
3) Causes of Arthritis
4) Other types or causes of arthritis
5) Symptoms of Arthitis
6) What can you do to prevent Arthritis?
7) What can you do to combat Arthritis?


Arthritis facts

• It's the number one cause of chronic disability in the United States

• Afflicts about 40 million men, women & children in America - about 1 out of every 7 people. This gives it the distinction of having the highest incidence rate of all disabilities and health conditions among US adults.
• As the baby boom generation approaches the year 2020, the number of afflicted Americans will grow to about 60 million
• The disease is physical, but also exacts a mental, emotional and economic toll.
• It is said that Roman Emperor Diocletian exempted citizens with severe arthritis from paying taxes. This was probably due to the realization that the disease itself can be taxing enough to those that have it as well as their loved ones.

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Who is at risk to get Arthritis?

• As we age – our risk increases. You have a 59% chance once you reach the age of 65
• It is also more prevalent in females than in males
• People that are the most susceptible: o Are overweight
o Have previously injured a joint
o Put repetitive stress on an injured joint (baseball players, ballet dancers, and construction workers)

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Causes:

Because there are so many different forms of arthritis, the causes are likely to vary. Scientists are currently examining how the roles of major factors including genetics and lifestyles affect the development of arthritis.

In general; a healthy joint is fully protected by cartilage. This allows for smooth movement as well as acting as a shock absorber when pressure is placed on the joint, like when running. Arthritis results from the break down of this cartilage (for a variety of reasons). As the cartilage degenerates, the opposing bones of a joint rub together, causing pain, swelling and stiffness.

When a joint remains inflamed even after an injury, disease or an infection to the joint has cleared up – the resulting joint destruction, long-term pain and deformity are referred to as chronic arthritis.

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Other types or causes of arthritis include:

Ankylosing spondylitis
• Fungal infections such as blastomycosis
Bursitis
Gonococcal arthritis
Gout
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (in children)
Lyme Disease
Osteoarthritis (OA)
Polymyalgia Rheumatica
Psoriatic arthritis
Reiter's syndrome (reactive arthritis)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Scleroderma
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
• Other bacterial infections Septic arthritis
• Adult Still's disease
Sjogren's Syndrome
• Tuberculous arthritis
• Viral arthritis

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Symptoms:

• Joint pain
• Joint swelling (can lead to joint deformity)
• Stiffness, especially first thing in the morning
• Warmth eminating from the area around a joint
• Redness of skin around the joint
• Reduced ability to move the joint, limited range of motion
• Fatigue

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What can you do to prevent Arthritis?

Stop smoking! The risk of developing some forms has been shown to significantly increase due to smoking
• Eat a healthy diet and supplement your diet if you are not getting the nutrients your body needs to maintain health. Recent research has shown the importance of vitamin C and other antioxidants in reducing the risk of Osteoarthritis and it’s progression.
• Early Diagnosis and Treatment is Key!. Early treatment will enable you to prevent, minimize and quite often even reverse joint damage depending on the type/cause of your Arthritic condition.
• Find out if you have a family history of it and take the appropriate preventative action now - even if you currently have no joint pain symptoms.

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What can you do to combat Arthritis?

Each of the many types has different symptoms and treatments. The good news is that there are many options that work to help to combat the effects and a few Arthritis related disorders can be completely cured with treatment.

Most are chronic (long-term) conditions, however, and the goal of treatment is to control the pain and minimize (and sometimes reverse) further joint damage. Chronic Arthritis frequently goes in and out of remission.

Combating Arthritis most often involves a multi pronged treatment approach based on your specific case that may or may not include...

Medication : (click this link to learn more)
Many drugs, both prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, are used to treat arthritis. Common medications are aspirin-free pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, disease modifiers, and sleep medications.

Natural Supplementation: (click this link to learn more)
As our bodies age they lose some of their natural ability to produce the nutrients required to maintain healthy joints. Natural supplements offer many short term and long term benefits that have proven to be an invaluable addition to any joint health plan.

Diet: (click this link to learn more)
Much research is continuing into the links between what you eat and your arthritis. From the research evidence so far, we recommend that you should:
• Pay close attention to portion size at every meal and only eat when you are hungry
• Drink plenty of water and avoid beverages that are high in caffeine and/or sugar
• Eat less sugar and fat, especially saturated fat, and try to use olive oil in your diet
• Eat more fruit and vegetables, especially brightly coloured varieties
• Eat plenty of calcium and iron rich foods
• Try replacing meat with oily fish twice per week (unless you have gout)
• If you have inflammatory arthritis which is not gout consider further increasing your intake of oily fish and/or fish oil supplements produced from oily fish as described in the text.

Exercise & Stretching: (click this link to learn more)
A regular exercise and stretching regimen is important to keep the body moving and flexible. It helps to enable movement through the reduction of the related pain, maintain and increase range of motion, reduce fatigue, and it helps you look and feel better.

Rest:
Rest is a very important and integral component of any Joint pain management plan. Getting from 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night and taking naps during the day will give your joints time to recover from damage and may even help reduce the number of flair-up recurrances.

Apply Heat or Cold:
Use of heat or cold over joints may provide short-term relief from pain and stiffness.

Pacing Activities:
Pacing helps protect your joints by alternating periods of activity with periods of rest so that your joints don't tire from the stress of repeated tasks.

Get a Massage:
Massage treatments have been proven to increase circulation and decrease tension throughout the body. Aside from feeling great, the beneficial effects of a massage will help you relax, improve your mental fitness and help you forget about your joint troubles for awhile. There are certified massage therapist that specialize in Arthritic pain relief therapies who can visit you on a regular basis.

Maintain Good Posture:
When standing, keep your legs shoulder width apart for balance and optimum support. Keep your shoulders back to reduce stress in your lower back. When seated, make use of a small pillow to support your lower back and keep your knees and hips at a 90 degree angle whenever possible.

Move:
Try not to stay seated for long periods of time. If you must remain in one place for more than 30 minutes at a time, be sure to shift your weight around and stretch to keep your joints from becoming stiff and sore.

Proactive Joint Protection:
Protect your joints by learning to use them in ways that:

• load weight to your larger healthy joints before loading to your smaller more vulnerable joints
• avoid using your damaged, sore and/or weak joints as much as possible.

In practice this means you should lift with your legs before you use your back, lift at your shoulders before you lift at your elbows, push with you elbows before pushing with your wrists, etc.

The second way to protect your joints is to use load bearing assistive devices such as a cane or a brace.

Lastly, by maintaining a healthy weight will you will ease joint pain by reducing the stress on your joints.

Mental “Self Help” Skills:
While it can be tough, doing your best to keep a positive mental attitude and outlook is very important to the success you will achieve in living with and combating Arthritis to maximize your quality of life.

Great strides continue to be made in this area and it’s important that you keep up to date with respect to the progress, events and new options that are continually being brought to the forefront of Arthritis pain management and treatment.

Additionally, you can better manage how arthritis affects you emotionally by talking about your experiences and feelings with family members and friends, by doing mental exercises to keep the brain sharp, and by joining your local Arthritis support group.

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