Arthritis has always been considered to be part of the aging process, along with indicating to the patient that he cannot be as active as he/she would want to be. This however has changed. As new research and science has found ways to slow this degenerative disease down. The usual remedy for arthritis was bed rest but it is now shown increased bed rest can hasten the progression of the disease.
What Is Arthritis (other clinical names: Osteoarthritis; Degenerative Joint Disease; Spondylosis and Scelorsis)
“Arthritis” basically means “joint inflammation”. Although arthritis often begins in middle age and is more frequent in the older generation, it can also start at a young age where serious trauma has occurred at that particular joint. A simple and non- technical description of arthritis is basically when bone starts rubbing against bone. Either through joint dysfunction and irregular movement or due to the fact that every joint is lined with cartilage and when this cartilage starts to wear thin, inevitably bone will then articulate on bone. This is when intra-articular loose bodies will occur and the following signs and symptoms will begin to show:
- Tender, warm, and swollen joints usually early morning or late at night
- Pain and stiffness lasts for more than 30 minutes after a long rest.
- It will usually occur around joints where there has been previous injury and/ or trauma to the area.
- The condition is asymmetrical.
- The wrist and finger joints closest to the hand are most frequently affected. However, the neck, hip, elbow, knee, shoulder, ankle, and feet joints can also be affected.
- Loss of flexibility
- Grating sensation, you may hear or feel this sensation when that particular joint is moving
- Cosmetic deformities
Reason for the pain is the body detects damage within the joint and pumps large amount of synovial fluid into the joint space. So the pain is most noticeable after long periods of immobility. So when the joint starts to articulate, the fluid is very distended and pushes on the joint capsule. As the fluid starts to disperse itself the pain starts to alleviate as there is now less pressure within in the joint, reason being why your pain gets better after 20-30 minutes of activity
Should Arthritic Patients Exercise?
Exercise is crucial in successful arthritis management and treatment. It ensures healthy and strong muscles, joint mobility, flexibility, endurance, and helps control weight. Rest, on the other hand, helps to decrease active joint inflammation, pain, and fatigue. For best results, arthritis patients need a good balance between the two: more rest during the active phase of arthritis, and more exercise during remission. For patients suffering with severe arthritis, none loading bearing exercises would be the best such as aqua aerobics; swimming; elliptical trainer; ect. The following exercises are most frequently recommended for patients with mild to moderate arthritis:
- Range-of-motion exercises, e.g. dynamic stretching and easy- flowing movements (yoga or pilates) help maintain normal joint movement and increase joint flexibility. Can be done daily and should be done at least every other day.
- Strengthening exercises, e.g. weight lifting (this include your body weighted exercises) help improve muscle strength, which is important to support and protect joints affected by arthritis. Should be done every other day, unless pain and swelling are severe.
- Aerobic or endurance exercises, e.g. walking, bicycle riding, and swimming help improve the cardiovascular system and muscle tone and control weight. Swimming is especially valuable because of its minimal risk of stress injuries and low impact on the body. Should be done for 20 to 30 minutes three times a week unless pain and swelling are severe.
Nutrition for the Arthritic Patient:
Some foods and nutritional supplements can be helpful in managing arthritis:
- Research shows that the best nutrition to aid cartilage production and slow would be a combination of the these 4 essential components: Glucosamine; Chondroitin; MSM and Hyaluronic acid (GOOD NEWS CostaSpine NOW STOCKS THE LATEST OF THESE PRODUCTS)
- Fatty-acid supplements: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and gamma linolenic acid (GLA). Several studies point to the effectiveness of these fatty acid supplements in reducing joint pain and swelling, and lessening reliance on corticosteroids.
- Deep-sea fish, such as salmon, tuna, herring, and halibut, are sources of EPA and DHA. GLA is found in very few food sources, such as black currants.
- Turmeric, a spice that’s used to make curry dishes, may also be helpful. A 95 percent curcuminoid extract has been shown to significantly inhibit the inflammatory cascade and provide relief of joint inflammation and pain.
- Ginger extract has been shown to be beneficial in terms of inflammation.
- A vegetarian or low-allergen diet can help with the management of arthritis as well.
The benefits and risks of most of these agents are being researched. Before taking any dietary supplement, especially if you are using medication to control your condition, consult with your health care provider.
What Can Your Doctor of Chiropractic Do?
If you suffer from arthritis, your doctor of Chiropractic can help you plan an individualized exercise program that will:
- Help you restore the lost range of motion to your joints.
- Improve your flexibility and endurance.
- Increase your muscle tone and strength.
Chiropractors can also give you nutrition and supplementation advice that can be helpful in controlling and reducing joint inflammation.
Through the specialized exercise program and nutrition supplements your body will be performing at its’ optimum so therefore have the ability to strengthen the joints and muscles effected by the arthritis.
Yours in healthcare