Self-Care Tips For Arthritis

Arthritis

Arthritis is a common disorder that affects the joints. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 24% of the adult US citizens suffer from arthritis, which amounts to approximately 58.5 million people. Arthritis is a leading cause for work disability.

Arthritis causes swelling and tenderness in one or more joints, and can limit functionality and the ability to perform daily tasks. The major symptoms of arthritis include joint pain and stiffness. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis refers to the wear and tear damage to joint’s cartilage while in rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks lining of the joint capsule, and cause it to become swollen and inflamed.

Family history, age, gender, past joint injury, and obesity are the key risk factors for arthritis. The main symptoms of arthritis are:

  • Joint pain
  • stiffness in joints
  • swelling
  • redness
  • difficulty in movements

These symptoms are common for any type of arthritis. Following a healthy lifestyle can help you manage your arthritis.

Self Care Tips for Arthritis

  • Take steps to lose weight: Proteins released by fat cells cause inflammation. In addition to aggravating joint pain, inflammation can make your medications less effective. It has been found that the condition progresses faster in people who are obese compared to those who are thinner. Healthy eating combined with regular exercise is the best way to lose weight.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: Maintaining a healthy diet is essential for a healthy weight. Research has found that some foods can increase inflammation. Following a balanced diet which contains antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can keep arthritis symptoms in check. Fiber rich foods are also act effective to lower the level of C-reactive protein, which is an indicator of inflammation. Limit the intake of processed and fast food.
  • Stay physically active: Staying physically active can reduce pain, and improve functionality and quality of life. Exercises like swimming, walking can also reduce risk of other chronic conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease and so on. The advantages of exercise are:
    • Lowers inflammation
    • Strengthens your bones
    • Keeps the heart and lungs healthy
    • Improves sleep
    • Helps weight loss
    • Improve mobility
  • Quit smoking: Smoking can worsen rheumatoid arthritis and make remission difficult. It can also increase risk of other chronic diseases associated with arthritis. If have trouble quitting, talk to your doctor about rehab programs and products that can help.
    • Pay attention to your oral health: Gum disease can increase arthritis progression. It can also lead to cartilage as well as bone damage. Proper dental care is important to manage arthritis effectively. Follow these steps:
      • Brush twice a day
      • Follow a healthy diet
      • Schedule regular dental check-ups

If stiff and painful hands make it difficult to take proper care of your teeth, ask your dentist/physician for advice.

      • Good-quality sleep: Getting enough sleep can help keep RA symptoms in check. Make it a habit to go to bed at the same time every day. If you experience pain while sleeping, use appropriate pillows to reduce pressure on joints. Take you medicines as advised and avoid drinking coffee late in the day. Reduce screen time. If these measures don’t work, talk to your doctor.
      • Manage stress: As the mind and body are closely linked, the pain, fatigue and other physical symptoms of arthritis can cause stress. It’s important to manage your emotions to prevent your physical symptoms from getting worse. Focusing on things you love can make your aches and pains easier to manage. Stress busters that experts recommend include yoga, meditation, spending time enjoying nature, listening to music, and so on.

When you are living with arthritis, taking care of yourself physically and emotionally is crucial to manage your symptoms and slow disease progression.

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