Characterized by swollen, stiff and even painful joints, there are over 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in four American adults suffer from arthritis and from 2013-2015, almost half of all adults over the age of 65 were diagnosed with the disease.
While the causes of many kinds of arthritis are still unknown, there are a number of risk factors that can increase the risk of developing arthritis. The risk is higher among those who have chronic health conditions such as obesity or diabetes. Genetics also play a role in determining some types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, as well as increasing the severity of the conditions. Age is one of the biggest factors because the older a person gets, the more wear and tear happens on their joints.
How to Prevent Arthritis
Although arthritis can’t be 100% prevented, there are many ways to minimize or slow down the development of the disease by making some lifestyle changes.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Being overweight adds stress to weight-bearing joints such as knees and hips, which can speed up the development of arthritis in individuals who otherwise wouldn’t have suffered from it for many more years
- Protect your immune system
- There are some types of inflammatory arthritis, such as psoriatic arthritis, and autoimmune arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, that can be fought off with a strong immune system. A healthy immune system can also care for and lessen symptoms of infected arthritis caused by fungus, bacteria or a virus.
- Exercise regularly
- Exercising regularly, ideally 5 times a week for 30 minutes each, improves muscle and joint function and reduces pain. Just make sure to ease up on the repetitive movements such as jumping, lifting and kneeling, as those can wear down the cartilage that cushions joints and eventually lead to arthritis.
- Do not smoke
- Research has found that smoking elevates a person’s risk for rheumatoid arthritis and intensifies the symptoms. Smoking also lowers the body’s overall immunity.
Caring for Arthritis
Early diagnosis and targeted treatment plan are essential for managing arthritis and chronic pain. The main goal is to lessen symptoms and improve mobility and function. While treatment should be monitored and prescribed by a rheumatologist, there are some at-home solutions to aid in relieving symptoms
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications
- Hot and cold treatments
- Heating pads or hot baths can help to temporarily relieve pain and relax muscles, while ice packs help to relieve pain and inflammation, especially after exercise
- While exercise is an effective preventative measure for arthritis, low-impact exercise can also help to relieve symptoms of those who already suffer from arthritis. Aquatic exercise can be especially beneficial because it removes a lot of the strain and weight on joints while still allowing for stretching and physical fitness.
- A professional masseuse can help relieve tension in areas that are particularly inflamed. Just make sure to inform them of where arthritis affects you so that they can approach with caution!
- Relaxation therapy
- Meditation, yoga, deep breathing or writing in a journal can all help improve your mood and decrease pain through stretching and strengthening muscles.
An arthritis diagnosis can be overwhelming, but following a treatment plan of medication, exercise, and nutrition will help to manage symptoms and live a fulfilling life. About Care Home Care provides caring, certified caregivers who are able to help manage arthritis pain, as well as aid in other tasks. Contact us for more information about our services and discover how we can help your loved one enjoy life at home.