According to recent reports, in the United States alone, 24% of all adults live with arthritis. Now, you might be thinking that arthritis is something you deal with when you are older or in your retirement years. But again, the facts tell a different story. More than half of those dealing with arthritis pain are of working age (between 18 and 64). What’s even more staggering is that it is a leading cause of work disability, with annual costs for medical care and lost earnings of $303.5 billion! So let’s take a look at what you can do to avoid arthritis and reduce your risk of developing stiff and painful joints.
What is Arthritis?
The word arthritis literally means joint inflammation (arthr=joint, itis=inflammation). The swelling and tenderness can affect one or more joint. Some people can live with the minor aches and pains, or it can be debilitating condition and severely impacts your life. Beyond mobility, one area that arthritis often impacts is employment or ability to work.
Studies show that 8 million working-age adults report that their ability to work is limited because of their arthritis. For some, that means they have a hard time climbing stairs to their office. For others, that means they aren’t able to walk from their car to their workspace.
The bad news is that arthritis is often classified as a degenerative disease, which means it can get worse as you get older, causing increased pain and mobility issues if you don’t take steps to reduce your risk and keep your joints moving.
Two Common Types of Arthritis
1) Osteoarthritis (triggered by wear and tear)
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is typically associated with aging. However, osteoarthritis can also occur after an injury or if you’re overweight. Osteoarthritis can also affect any joint in your body, but is most commonly found in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.
This type of arthritis is often referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis because it starts popping up with cartilage or the tissues that cushion your joints” wears away, causing pain and stiffness.
That’s because osteoarthritis involves cartilage losing its elasticity. Cartilage acts as a shock absorber for your joints. When it becomes damaged, tendons and ligaments stretch. The onset of osteoarthritis is gradual, but it can become so severe that the bones of the joint rub against each other, which causes severe pain.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis
The type of symptoms you can experience with osteoarthritis depends on the joint or joints it affects. But some of the most common symptoms that we see include:
- Pain deep in the joint
- Trouble gripping things, squatting, or climbing stairs
- Limited range of motion
- Morning stiffness that improves with activity
- Stiffness after resting
- Swollen joints
2) Rheumatoid Arthritis (triggered by an autoimmune response)
Rheumatoid arthritis is believed to be an autoimmune response. This type of arthritis involves the attack of the synovium (the synovial membrane) which causes swelling, inflammation, and pain.
Although this type of arthritis is also associated with age, in rare instances, it can affect young adults and children. There are three types of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA):
- Pauciarticular JRA is the most common and mildest form. With this type of arthritis, the child experiences pain in a maximum of four joints.
- Polyarticular JRA is more severe and affects five or more joints. Polyarticular JRA can worsen in time.
- Systemic JRA is the least common but it can be the most serious. Many joints are affected and it can also spread to the organs.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
Unlike osteoarthritis, symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can come on suddenly, but they can also develop gradually over time. Symptoms are typically more severe than osteoarthritis as well. Some of the most common symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Pain, stiffness, or swelling in multiple joints
- Symmetrical pattern inflammation (example: both left and right hip inflamed)
- Joints that become more painful and swollen over time
- Swelling that doesn’t go away
- Fatigue and weight loss
Natural Ways to Prevent and Manage Arthritis Pain
Unfortunately, there is no sure way to cure or prevent arthritis. But there are things you can do to help lessen your pain and keep it from developing into a more serious issue in the future. This includes taking steps to avoid unnecessary strain or pressure on your joints. Here are seven ways to reduce your risk and help manage arthritis pain from happening to you:
1) Maintain or get to a healthy weight.
Any extra weight you’re carrying puts added pressure on your joints – especially your knees and hips. In fact, every pound puts an added 4lbs of stress on your knees and 6x the pressure on your hips! If you need help getting your weight under control, AlignLife offers a proven weight management program that focuses on lifestyle changes rather than starving your body of calories and food.
2) Keep moving and exercise.
A little bit goes a long way here! Just 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week can help you keep your joints limber. It will also help you strengthen muscles that support your knees, hips, and back. Try to start or focus on low-impact exercises like walking or swimming first, and build to more challenging exercises from there.
3) Stretch your body!
Try to work in some gentle stretches or yoga into your daily routine. This will help you improve your range of motion, keep your joints limber, and help you stay active and doing the things you love.
4) Control your sugar intake.
Sugar is a known inflammatory. In fact, it tops the list of foods that can increase joint pain and inflammation. Try to cut out processed sugars from your diet and balance your natural sugar intake out with other healthy proteins and fats.
5) Boost your Omega-3s intake!
Eating fish high in Omega-3s, like salmon, trout and mackerel can also help you keep arthritis pain under control. Omega-3s also have many health benefits your body will thank you for! If you’re not sure you can up your intake enough through the foods you eat, you can also give Aceva’s Omega-3 Plus a try. It’s on the list of favorites of all AlignLife chiropractors!
6) Keep your spine healthy with regular chiropractic checks.
Regular spine health checks with your local AlignLife chiropractor can help you dramatically reduce your risk of developing arthritis and/or slow its progress. This will not only help keep your joints fluid, but correcting any subluxations you have ensures your body is sending and receiving the proper signals via your nervous system. This will impact and improve your overall health, not just your risk for arthritis.
7) Add Joint Rescue to help manage your arthritis and improve joint function.
Joint Rescue from Aceva is a clinically-tested joint support formulation for those suffering from joint pain and restriction. Joint Rescue features a signature blend of four synergistic compounds formulated to support joints. This includes the unique combination of glucosamine and MSM which studies show helps reduce pain and swelling and helps improve overall joint function. AlignLife chiropractors frequently recommend Joint Rescue over NSAIDs (a traditional pain relief treatment for arthritis) because it provides relief without the harmful side effects.
Want more help managing or reducing your risk for arthritis?
Talk with your local AlignLife chiropractor about how we can help by keeping your spine healthy, giving your body the nutrition it needs, and increasing your mobility through movement and proven stretches and techniques.