May 15, 2023
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “arthritis is one of the most common health conditions in the United States and a leading cause of disability. Almost 59 million adults (1 in 4) have arthritis that has been diagnosed by a doctor.”
While it is common to believe that arthritis affects only older adults, it is the number one cause of disability for a reason – it affects people of all ages. The Arthritis Foundation reports that “almost 300,000 babies, kids, and teens have arthritis or a rheumatic condition.”
The good news is that even though there is no cure for arthritis, there are ways to manage this condition and reduce the symptoms that come along with it. Our team at Franciscan Ministries, a senior living provider with communities in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, is sharing more information about this condition and how to manage arthritis pain and other symptoms.
The Arthritis Foundation states, “arthritis is not a single disease; it is an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions.”
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and has formerly been known as a “wear and tear” condition typically linked to aging. However, newer research has found that osteoarthritis is actually a disease of the entire joint, including bone, cartilage, ligaments, fat and the tissues lining the joint (also called synovium).
According to the CDC, this type of arthritis “occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in your joints gradually deteriorates…Eventually, if the cartilage wears down completely, bone will rub on bone.”
Common symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
Another common type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. “Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints. In some people, the condition can damage a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels (mayoclinic.org).”
Common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
When your joints are stiff, swollen or in pain, exercise may seem like the last thing that would help. However, getting active can reduce joint pain, help maintain bone health and increase strength in the muscles around your joints.
Moreover, “not exercising weakens those supporting muscles. Weak muscles put more stress on joints (mayoclinic.org).”
This does not mean you have to perform high-intensity exercises to manage arthritis symptoms. In fact, this could have the opposite effect. Instead, try a variety of exercises, including range-of-motion exercises, aerobic activities like water aerobics or walking, strengthening exercises and stretching can help reduce joint pain.
Before you make any changes to your fitness routine, talk to your doctor to determine which activities would be best for your overall health and wellness.
Your diet can also play a large role in your arthritis symptoms in terms of inflammation. For example, refined carbohydrates, fried foods, processed meats, soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages are known to lead to inflammation.
On the other hand, incorporating more omega-3 fatty acids, citrus fruits, olive oil and nuts into your diet can help reduce arthritis symptoms.
Another option for how to manage arthritis pain is utilizing rehabilitation services like those offered throughout our senior living communities in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Our Franciscan Communities specialize in a full range of senior rehabilitation programs that are proven effective and specialized for older adults, including arthritis and pain management.
We use precision therapies to promote faster healing and implement technology designed to reduce pain and inflammation. Additionally, all therapy is one on one with a licensed therapist. Each therapist evaluates the whole person – your life and abilities, goals and recovery expectations to create a customized treatment plan.
Arthritis does not have to control how you live your life. Even though there is no cure for the condition, there are ways to manage it and reduce your symptoms.
To learn more about our communities and the services we provide, please visit our website or contact a member of the Franciscan Ministries team.