Arthritis is a blanket term, used to describe over 100 strains of the disease, that is typified by inflammation of the joints or other parts of the body. Inflammation generally causes pain, swelling, and stiffness, and can lead to other more serious health problems.
Arthritis is currently the most prevalent chronic health condition in Canada, affecting about 20% of the population, and unfortunately there is no cure for it. Many people are of the impression that arthritis only affects the elderly, however the ailment can develop at any age. People that work in jobs that require repetitive physical tasks are more prone to the disease. This includes office jobs where the majority of the day is spent at the computer. Even children can develop arthritis, as it currently affects just under 25,000 youngsters in Canada.
As widespread as the condition is now, it is project by experts that by 2040 roughly 50% of the total population in Canada will suffer from arthritis. As it currently stands, about 50% of the people over 65 in Canada are battling with the ailment. Women are more susceptible to arthritis, and it is estimated that 60% of females over 65 will have arthritis in the next 20 years.
Tips for Living with Arthritis
Arthritis can be a debilitating disease that can have a detrimental impact on independent living. The joint pain and stiffness that come with the condition can make it difficult and painful to perform regular daily tasks and activities. There are several lifestyle practices that can help manage and alleviate the unpleasant symptoms of the disease.
Some suggestions for coping with and managing arthritis, may include:
- Stay active
- Strengthening exercises and stretching
- Focus on nutrition
- Cut out bad habits
- Try to avoid stress
- Use adaptive tools and optimize home safety
- Home care assistance
One area confusion surrounding arthritis is whether physical activity eases or exacerbates the symptoms of arthritis. Strenuous, high impact activity can certainly have a negative effect on the condition and increase pain and swelling. However, living a sedentary lifestyle is much worse for the disease. It is important to keep stiff joints moving as much as possible to prevent them tightening up even more. Exercise routines should cater to the specific type of arthritis, but low impact activities like walking, swimming, yoga, and tai chi are often pretty safe.
Strengthening and Stretching
The stronger and more flexible the muscles and ligaments around the joints are, less pain and stiffness will be experienced. Stretching is absolutely crucial, and should be done for at least 30 minutes a day to increase flexibility and mobility of the joints. It is a good idea to consult a physician or physiotherapist to design an ideal exercise regimen for your specific situation. Lack of exercise is certainly not helpful for arthritis, but overdoing it can be just as harmful. It is important to find the right balance for optimal results.
As with just about every health condition, good nutrition is critical to managing the effects of arthritis. Getting the daily recommended vitamins, minerals, and protein helps build up the body’s immunity for combatting inflammation. Focus on a diet of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, healthy carbs, and quality proteins to compliment your exercise regimen. Avoid processed foods high in fat and sugar at all costs.
Cutting Out Bad Habits
Poor nutrition is one bad habit to avoid, and there are many other negative lifestyle practices that can also be harmful. Some bad habits to cut out might include excess alcohol consumption, smoking, overeating, and even a chronic bad attitude can have harmful physical effects.
It is not always possible to avoid stress, but certain stressful situations can be prevented by being aware of your stress triggers. Mental stress can have seriously harsh impacts on overall health, but physical stress should also be avoided with arthritis. Any movements or positions that put undue stress on the affected joints can cause further aggravation and damage. Know your limitations and be aware of actions that should not be attempted.
Adaptive Tools and Home Adjustment
Assistive devices like canes and crutches may be useful for people that experience pain while walking. Also, automatic devices like electric toothbrushes, can openers, scrubbers, and grabbers can help reduce painful movements and unnecessary bending. Modifications can also be made around the home to improve home safety and facilitate strenuous tasks.
Home Care Assistance
Home caregivers from a professional home care agency can be extremely helpful in managing pain and symptoms caused by arthritis. Caregivers can offer assistance with housekeeping tasks, personal hygiene, exercise routines, medication management, and much more to alleviate pain and stiffness, and live a more comfortable and enjoyable life.