What Is Arthritis?
Roughly 350 million people worldwide have arthritis, and nearly 40 million of those 350 million are in the United States. You might be thinking, What is Arthritis? and is Arthritis curable?
Arthritis: is painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. whether it’s your knees, fingers, back or feet.
It is very common for people to be diagnosed with Arthritis nowadays although the illness is not well understood. No one is safe from its grasp. People of all ages can be diagnosed with Arthritis and it’s actually the leading cause of disability in the United States. A lot of people think that Arthritis is a disease that only old people get since their joints are deteriorating but this is false because nearly 300,000 American Children have some type of Arthritis.
What Causes Arthritis?
We all know as we get old our bodies deteriorate and the cartilage between our bones naturally break down. Cartilage is the firm connective tissue between our joints. It protects the joints by absorbing the pressure and shock created when you move and put stress on them. When this cartilage is reduced it causes inflammation and a lot of pain. This is normal and very common, the risk is also made higher if arthritis runs in the family. With that being said there are two common types of Arthritis:
This is the most common form of arthritis. This happens when your cartilage breaks down, causing the bones within the joint to rub together which causes extreme discomfort, and not to mention it lasts a lifetime. OA occurs most often in old people, although it can occur in young adults. The way OA can occur in young people is through joint damage, whether it’s through heavy physical activity or past injuries. It can also be caused by joint malformation, obesity, and poor posture.
Autoimmune Disease (Rheumatoid Arthritis)
This is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body and it affects around 23 million Americans a year. The immune system normally guards against germs and bacteria and helps defend your body against them. Usually, your Immune system can tell the difference between your cells and foreign cells but when someone is diagnosed with autoimmune disease your body releases proteins called antibodies and they attack your joints. This type of Arthritis can start as early as your late 20s.
Is Arthritis Curable?
Now the big question everyone must be wondering, is arthritis curable? The answer is simply, no. Once you have been diagnosed with Arthritis there is nothing you can do, This is because once your cartilage has deteriorated there is nothing you can do. although there isn’t a cure never fear as with the right treatment you can greatly reduce your pain. In addition to these treatments, you can also make a lot of changes in your life that can prove very beneficial to your diagnosis.
The main goal of treating Arthritis is to obviously reduce the inflammation which in return reduces the pain. As you consult with your doctor you can hear your options and choose whatever works for you. Some people simply just need heated pads and ice packs to relieve the pain, but others don’t, for example, some might need canes or walkers.
Your doctor might recommend a combination of treatments to achieve best results like these:
- Medication: Your doctor might prescribe you different types of medications such as Vicodin, Ibuprofen, and Acetaminophen.
- Surgery: In extreme cases, surgery might be needed to replace your joint/joints With artificial joints. This form of surgery is most commonly done to replace hips and knees. In the case of having severe Arthritis in your fingers, your doctor may perform a joint fusion which locks your bones together until they heal and become one again.
- Physical Therapy: physical therapy such as exercise can help strengthen the muscles around the affected joints and is a core component to treating Arthritis.
If Arthritis is left untreated you are in for one hell of a ride, not only would you face a life of unbearable pain, you also risk deformity. If left untreated it can lead to permanent joint damage which for example would lock your fingers in place. Although it is extremely rare Arthritis CAN lead to early death. People who have untreated Arthritis increase their chances of contracting a disease such as Cardiovascular disease, Anemia, and Coronary artery disease.
How Can I Prevent Arthritis?
Although Arthritis isn’t curable it is preventable. Some factors such as increasing age, family history, and gender are not in your control but there are a few healthy habits you can practice to reduce your risk of developing painful joints.
Remember there is no “magic food” but obviously having a healthy diet can benefit your body greatly. Foods such as fish are best at preventing Arthritis. Fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which have numerous health benefits and can reduce inflammation in the body. Fish such as Salmon, Trout, Mackerel, and Sardines are the best. Other foods good for reducing inflammation and strengthening your joints include:
- Brussel Sprouts
Do Daily Exercise
This not only takes the stress away from your joints, but it also takes the stress away from your life in general. It can strengthen the muscles around the joints and stabilize them. To maximize the benefits of your exercise program, try walking, or swimming. You can also add strength training to maintain flexibility of your joints. Some exercises that can benefit include:
- Bench pressing (take a day off after to reduce stress)
- Elliptical machines
- The range of Motion exercises (jumping jacks, lunges, etc..)
Over time your joints wear out we all know this, but when you injure yourself through sports or exercise you can damage the cartilage between your bones and cause it to wear out more quickly. To avoid injury you should always try to be safe and use proper safety equipment while playing sports. Using the right techniques when sitting, lifting and working can also help to protect your joints from everyday stress.