“Oh, my aching (fill in the blank)!” If you have arthritis, you’ve likely uttered this exclamation. The pain, swelling, stiffness and limitations to your movement can really put the brakes on enjoying your life.
You’re not alone — according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 32.5 million Americans suffer from this condition. Aside from seeking treatment for your arthritis from an excellent orthopedist, like every member of the expert and caring team at Advanced Spine and Pain, did you know that there are things you can do to lower your risk for more severe symptoms?
The origins of arthritis
Some people are predisposed to arthritis due to family history, while others notice the onset of pain and immobility as they age.
Arthritis is an umbrella term that means inflammation of the joints. In osteoarthritis, the most common form, the cartilage that surrounds your joints breaks down. This cartilage, when it’s healthy, evenly covers the ends of your bones so when you move your joints, the motion is smooth and painless.
However, when your cartilage breaks down due to wear and tear from repetitive motion, injury, and getting older, your bones rub together uncomfortably, and pain and swelling ensue. You also won’t be able to move as easily as you used to.
Arthritis most frequently affects the knees, fingers, and hips. Your neck and lower back are also prime locations for arthritis to strike. And if you’ve been suffering from arthritis symptoms for years, you don’t just deal with pain, your overall quality of life plummets.
Five things you can do to prevent arthritis-related problems
You and your Advanced Spine and Pain provider are partners in your battle against arthritis.
We create a treatment plan that’s customized to you, which may include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and innovative minimally invasive treatments, such as stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma treatments. We may also recommend injections for your pain, and we offer different types, depending on your needs.
You play a big role in your arthritis care, and there are five key things you can do to stop your arthritis symptoms from worsening:
1. Keep your weight in check
Obesity poses multiple health risks, but one of them is that it puts your joints at higher risk for arthritic harm.
Excess pounds put undue strain on your joints. How? Fat cells actually produce proteins called cytokines, that lead to greater cartilage breakdown in your joints, which in turn contributes to swelling.
Eating a varied and healthy diet with plenty of fruits and veggies is key, as are eating low-fat dairy foods and foods containing omega-3s, such as salmon, walnuts, and chia seeds.
2. Avoid tobacco
We know that tobacco contributes to the development of so many health conditions, from heart disease to diabetes.
Unfortunately, smoking poses a double whammy for arthritis sufferers: It accelerates cartilage loss and slows cartilage repair, so staying away from tobacco is a must.
3. Keep an eye on your glucose levels
There’s an undeniable connection between diabetes and arthritis, unfortunately. Over half of the people who live with diabetes also live with arthritis.
High blood sugar levels stiffen your cartilage, putting it at risk for damage. Diabetes also contributes to inflammation, which causes major harm to cartilage.
4. Don’t be afraid to move
Being sedentary is a no-no for anyone, and it doesn’t support your health, but this is especially true if you live with arthritis.
Aim for 30 minutes of exercise at least five days per week. And you don’t have to be an Olympic-level athlete. Everyday activities like gardening, cleaning the house, and walking your dog count, too.
5. Seek treatment for your arthritis
Since arthritis is a progressive condition, the sooner you seek treatment, the better. Your Advanced Spine and Pain doctor creates a treatment plan that’s designed for you alone and monitors your pain and mobility regularly.
WIth the right treatment and self-care practices, you can improve your mobility and overall well being, despite living with arthritis.
Call the Advanced Spine and Pain office that’s most convenient to you to schedule an appointment with us, or request one online.