Nearly everyone over 50 has arthritis or knows someone else who has it. While our only known cure, to date, is the replacement of damaged joints, there are ways we can delay or fend off the painful symptoms of arthritis.
Perhaps the challenge researchers face in the pursuit of a real cure is related to the fact that the term “arthritis” merely refers to pain or damage in the joints or joint disease. According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are more than 100 different types of arthritis. It strikes people of all ages, genders, and races. Arthritis is a leading cause of disability in the United States, and most commonly affects people over fifty, as we wear out our joints. Women are more susceptible, not the kind of pro-femininity we usually look for.
Over time, symptoms may vary in intensity and be intermittent. Knobby finger joints may point toward a likelihood of arthritis in other joints that is not so visible except by x-ray.
Fingers are often malformed or crooked. Damage to hip joints can feel like the sharp agony of sciatica, an inflammation of the large nerve that runs down the leg from inside the hip.
The most common type of this life-changing disorder is osteoarthritis and is believed to be caused by inflammation or injury. The body responds to inflammation or injury by sending white blood cells, which create a net-like formation called fibrin that contains the inflammation and works to rid the body of it. That’s a good thing until the fibrin fails to break down as it is meant to do and damages the joint. The failure to break down is due to a lack of certain substances called proteolytic enzymes the body makes less of as we age.
Lucky for us, we can eat the right foods and avoid wrong ones, to get proteolytic enzymes. Also, we can USE affected joints and reduce or even eliminate moderate pain. Moderate movement of joints releases synovial fluid, a viscous liquid found in cavities in the joints, and lubricates the bone so that it slides easily instead of “locking” or scraping. Overly repetitive motions do the opposite and damage the joints. Postal letter sorters are susceptible to arthritis in the shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints. We’ve all heard of tennis elbow. Playing tennis is not the only way to get it.
What We Eat
Certain foods contain enzymes that attack the inflammation that damages joints. One such enzyme is called bromelain and is found in pineapple and pineapple juice. Another is papain, found in papaya. The remainder of the top ten foods for fighting arthritis symptoms are broccoli, olive oil, blueberries, fatty fishes, nuts, tart cherries, kelp, green tea, dark chocolate and fermented foods such as kefir and active yogurt. Equally important are the foods we must limit or avoid in our diets: bagels, muffins and pasta; white bread; French fries and any other foods prepared at a very high temperature; processed fast foods; omega 6 oils such as sunflower oil; charred or blackened foods; nightshade vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers. Finally, the number one food on the avoid or limit list is sugar. It is best to avoid processed foods as much as possible.
Yoga and Swimming
Yoga can be very useful in reducing or even, sometimes, eliminating moderate arthritic pain. As more people recognize the value of yoga exercise, it is becoming more available. Some local community colleges offer classes. Another popular activity that promotes joint health is exercises performed in a swimming pool, sometimes called swimnastics, or aquacize. If you are unable to exercise standing up or getting on the floor, yoga may be practiced effectively while seated in a chair. This is an online instruction website for senior chair yoga if you cannot find a nearby class: Chair Yoga Video
This activity moves the joints and stretches, supporting muscles and ligaments, which relieves pressure on the joints. Tai Chi may also be effective in keeping us limber. Pets keep us more active, particularly dogs that must be walked.
Diet and Productive Activity
With a good, healthy diet, specific extra dietary support, and productive activity, you may be able to put off joint surgery for weeks, months, or even years. Starting early to fend off the inflammation that causes arthritis may help us avoid it altogether.
Pain-relieving medications may be temporarily helpful in managing arthritis pain. Most commonly used in early stages are the NSAID family, over the counter or prescribed: aspirin, Advil (Naproxen Sodium) ibuprofen, Motrin. The doctor may prescribe others.
There are dangers and side effects associated with all drugs, increasingly so for the elderly who are also those most in need of arthritis pain relief. We need to take them with care and not exceed recommended doses; keep our doctors advised; and “use it or lose it.” We have all heard this old platitude, but never is it more accurate than when we apply it to arthritis. Unused joints dry, and more so with the use of NSAIDs, which may contribute to drying of the joints.
Strong muscles support and protect the joints, and even hold them in position. Physical activity can prevent incredible amounts of arthritic pain. We don’t need to be professional athletes. We simply need to live an active lifestyle. Walking the dog daily is amazingly helpful. More is always better. Walk your dog and toss a ball for him twice daily. That exercises knees, ankles, hips, shoulders (use both arms to toss), and even core muscles.
As a prominent renovation expert on HGTV likes to say, “Get up and do it!”
As mentioned earlier swimming is an excellent activity that can relieve arthritis pain. Do you want to learn more about how you can get a pool in your background? Also, hot tubs and spas are known for their fabulous benefits in relieving pain as well. Give us a call to learn more. We would love to help you and discuss your options. Contact Skovish Pools and Spas