Arthritis is Not One Disease
There are over 100 types of arthritis (or rheumatic diseases), so it is definitely not a “one size fits all” proposition! It’s not at all uncommon for one patient to have two or more types. Pain is a hallmark of arthritis, so it’s important that you as a patient understand what’s causing it so you can control your arthritis.
Your primary care physician is a good resource for this, but if it’s not straightforward or you need more clarification, our doctors are here to help.
The most common type of arthritis that every one of us has somewhere by the time we reach 50 (although not everyone has problems with it) is osteoarthritis.
In the US, there are about 27 million people affected by osteoarthritis, and with the aging US population, this number is growing every year.
Control Your Arthritis: Be Good to Yourself!
Although certain rules of thumb about “being good to your joints” apply in most situations, with there being so types of arthritis, these measures may not apply directly to each affected person.
Maintaining good health practices in general is a big step for dealing with arthritis. A healthy, well-balanced diet appropriate to your other medical problems and maintenance of an ideal weight is a good start. Some supplements have been used for some types of arthritis with varying results.
One such supplement is glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate, which some people find helpful for osteoarthritis of the knees. Adequate sleep can affect how you handle arthritis pain. There are actually some arthritic conditions that are largely caused by inadequate rest!
Being physically active to stretch and strengthen the surrounding muscles helps to protect the joints, but it’s important to consider your specific arthritic problem or problems when exercising. Protecting vulnerable joints is a big part of this.
In patients with arthritic involvement of weight bearing joints, this means avoiding high-impact activities and tailoring your day-to-day activities to your joint issues. Some patients find gentle yoga, Pilates, or T’ai chi helpful.
Many people with arthritis benefit from water exercise, which tend to be easier on the joints, but can still offer a great physical work-out. Most of all, you want to enjoy the activity and feel it benefits you so you are motivated to make it part of your everyday life.