Lifestyle

Arthritis is a pain for many adults

By Jobyna Nickum

Arthritis is a pain!

May is both Older Americans Month and Arthritis Awareness Month. I have written numerous articles on Older American’s Month. So I thought, well, let’s write about something that affects lots of people on a daily, intimate, “in their bones” sort of way – arthritis it is!

More than 46 million adults in the United States have been told by a doctor they some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus or fibromyalgia, according to the Center for Disease Control Web site, (www.cdc.gov). Now that’s a big number

What exactly is arthritis? Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint – the point where two or more bones meet. Believe it or not – there are more than 100 types of arthritis – all of which can cause pain and stiffness in the joints, swelling, warmth and redness in a joint and limited movement and tenderness in joints and connective tissues in the body.

The most common types of arthritis we hear of are (as described by the Web site www.cdc.gov): Osteoarthritis: this is a disease characterized by the degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint – it is also known as degenerative joint disease. This is the most common form of arthritis today. Lupus is an auto-immune disease. This affects more women than men and occurs from infancy to old age, but peaks between 15 and 40 years of age. Gout is an ancient and common form of inflammation arthritis. It is the most common form of arthritis among men. Rheumatoid arthritis is a whole-body inflammatory disease which manifests itself on multiple joints on the body. Although no one really no one knows what causes RA – it is believed to be the result of a faulty immune response. The incidence of RA is typically two to three times higher in women than in men. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome characterized by widespread muscular pains and fatigue, morning stiffness, tingling and numbness in the hands or feet, headaches and migraines, problems with thinking and memory and painful menstrual periods. Most people are diagnosed with middle age and prevalence increases with age.

What causes arthritis? In most cases – the doctor’s don’t know. We can say as we get older the odds of you getting arthritis increases – but there are also thousands of children diagnosed with juvenile arthritis each year. Once you develop arthritis – it rarely goes away – and becomes a chronic condition. There are however, medications, treatments and behavior changes we can make that make the condition bearable. While we may not know exact causes, there are things we can do to prevent injury and overuse, according to the Arthritis Foundation Web site article, “10 Ways to Protect Your Joints.”

1 – Maintain your ideal body weight.

2 – Move your body. Exercise protects joints by strengthening the muscles around them.

3 – Stand up straight. Good posture protects the joints in your neck, back, hips and knees.

4 – Use the big joints. When lifting or carrying, use largest and strongest joints and muscles. This will help you avoid injury and strain on your smaller joints.

5 – Pace yourself. Alternate periods of heavy activity with periods of rest. Repetitive stress on joints for long periods of time accelerate the wear and tear than can cause osteoarthritis.

6 – Listen to your body. If you are in pain, don’t ignore it. Pain after activity or exercise can be an indication that you have overstressed your joints.

7 – Don’t be static. Changing positions regularly will decrease the stiffness in your muscles and joints.

8 – Forget the weekend warrior. Don’t engage in activities for which your body is not prepared.

9 – Wear proper safety equipment. Don’t leave helmets and wrist pads at home.

10 – Ask for help. Don’t try to do a job that is too big for you to handle.

Studies have proven that mild, regular exercise is helpful at preventing and treating arthritis. The Enumclaw Senior Activity Center and other local area senior centers offer a variety of low-impact exercises such as Pilates, chair aerobics, Wii bowling and alternative therapies such as massage and reflexology. Talk with your doctor about an exercise treatment plan. I have several family members with severe forms of arthritis, and both of my parents had forms of arthritis. These conditions range from osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, severe gout, bursitis to rheumatoid arthritis.

Our motto has always been “We will live a full life with arthritis – arthritis will not live our life for us.”

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Tacoma Arthritis Walk 2010

May 22, 2010

Pt. Defiance Park/Owen Beach

3 mile/1 mile walks

Information booths, resources, registration onsite. Help raise funds for Arthritis Foundation research.

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Arthritis Quiz – Myths or Fact?

1. Arthritis is a minor ailment characterized by minor aches and pains.

Myth or Fact

2. Arthritis is not a single disease . Arthritis refers to a group of over 100 rheumatic diseases.

Myth or Fact

3. Arthritis or chronic joint pain affects 1 in 3 adults.

Myth or Fact

4. Only old people get arthritis.

Myth or Fact

5. A person can get arthritis at any age. About 300,000 children in the U.S. have Juvenile Arthritis.

Myth or Fact

6. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.

Myth or Fact

7. According to the Arthritis Foundation, less than one half of Rheumatoid Arthritis patients under 65 who are working at the onset of the disease are still working 10 years later.

Myth or Fact

8. Arthritis is not a modern disease. Arthritis has been found in ancient Egyptian mummies and Neanderthal Man..

Myth or Fact

9. Cold damp weather causes arthritis.

Myth or Fact

10. Poor diet causes arthritis.

Myth or Fact

11. Knuckle-cracking causes arthritis.

Myth or Fact

12. There is no cure for arthritis.

Myth or Fact

13. Being overweight, even just moderately, impacts weight-bearing joints and can increase the pain of arthritis. For every pound a person is overweight -3 to 5 lbs of extra weight is added to each knee during walking.

Myth or Fact

14. Arthritis only affects the joints.

Myth or Fact

1. Myth; 2. Fact, 3. Fact, 4. Myth; 5. Fact; 6. Fact; 7. Fact; 8. Fact; 9. Myth; 10. Myth; 11. Myth; 12. Fact; 13. Fact; 14. Myth

Taken from the Arthritis Foundation website; www.arthritis.org

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