If you or someone you love suffers from arthritis, please know that you (or they) are not alone. Chances are that if you have arthritis, you probably have osteoarthritis, its most common form. It affects over 20 million people in the United States and becomes more common with age. Osteoarthritis, or OA, is a progressive degenerative disease which eventually destroys the joints it affects.
When osteoarthritis affects a joint, the cartilage, or padding between the bones in the joint, becomes worn and thinned. This causes increased friction between the bones which in turn leads to a loss of mobility, or movement, in the joint. It will also cause new bone growths, or spurs, to form around the joints. The end result is you have a joint which is painful and does not move as well as it should until it comes to a point where the bone spurs from either side of the joint eventually meet and fuse the joint. Once fused, the joint will become rigid and will no longer function.
The older you get, the greater your risk of osteoarthritis becomes. Being overweight greatly increases your risk of being affected by this form of arthritis. Obesity also speeds up the progression of this destructive disease. It has been determined that osteoarthritis may also be caused by injury to a joint, overuse as well as chronic inflammation within the body. Most commonly you will notice symptoms of osteoarthritis in your hands, feet, spine, hips, knees and ankles.
What You Can Do About Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is by far easier to prevent then it is to treat. Prevention first consists of incorporating moderate, low intensity physical activity in your daily routine. Incorporating activities such as walking, biking and use of home exercise equipment such as elliptical trainers or stair climbers regularly throughout your lifetime has been proven to make a significant impact on preventing OA. Secondly, reducing your body weight will also dramatically decrease your risk of developing OA; some studies have found it can decrease your risk by almost 50%. Last but not least, preventing injuries to the joints commonly affected by OA will improve your chances of living without arthritis.
Is it already too late for prevention for you? If so, your greatest hope is managing your osteoarthritis, as there are no known cures for this condition. Management is available several different ways, depending on the contributing factors to your situation. Chiropractic care and Physical Therapy can provide improved joint function, many times slowing the progression of arthritis while at the same time providing relief. Your chiropractor will also be able to provide specific recommendations regarding helpful diet choices and activities.
If obesity is a contributing factor, reducing your weight will greatly reduce your pain while at the same time helping to slow the progression of damage within your joints. There is no magic pill or bullet to help you lose weight. The best way for you to reduce your weight is through eating smaller portion sizes and then increasing your physical activity level. A simple way to eat less is to eat 2/3 of your typical portion size. When done so regularly, you will decrease your caloric intake enough to help you decrease weight. The beauty of it is that you won’t suffer from the typical shortcomings of most diets which cause them to fail: leaving you feeling hungry after every meal.
About the Author:
Dr. Nick Preston is a chiropractor focused on helping families enjoy greater health and founder of Wisdom and Health. Find products like Biofreeze, Sombra and others which can help you get relief from your arthritis symptoms.
Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist