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The best way to deal with arthritis is not to get it in the first place. Osteoarthritis (OA) is not really a disease, it's much more of a condition. And in many cases, OA is a lifestyle-related condition. It is associated both with a long-term lack of activity and with being overweight.
In addition, try increasing your movement throughout the day - walking to a nearby store instead of driving, or at least parking farther away from the door, gardening, raking leaves, taking the stairs rather than an escalator. Every bit of exercise helps to keep your metabolism at an optimal level, preventing excess weight gain that will stress your joints over time.
Chances are, you either have some arthritis or know someone who suffers with it. According to the Center for Disease Control, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States.1 Approximately 47 million people have doctor-diagnosed arthritis and 17 million have arthritis-attributable activity limitations.
Osteoarthritis, the most common form, is a degenerative condition affecting the joints and the soft tissues around the joints ─ the associated cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. The most commonly affected areas are the spine, the hands, and the shoulders, hips, and knees. The pain of arthritis, the reduced mobility, and the lifestyle accommodations needed for pain avoidance can be very discouraging and may even lead to depression.
Many anti-inflammatory drugs are available for the treatment of arthritis, and in recent years many of these have been found to cause severe side effects. Vioxx is the most notorious of these ─ cardiovascular complications caused a worldwide recall of the drug. Celebrex, another well-known arthritis medication, was also found to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke at high doses.
Fortunately, there are several wellness-based treatment alternatives to long-term medication. These include exercise, diet, and in many cases, chiropractic treatment.
Exercise is critical in restoring mobility and, over time, in reducing pain.2,3 Persons with osteoarthritis often experience a vicious cycle of deterioration. Pain causes reduced mobility (pain avoidance), which (paradoxically) actually causes more pain, which causes further reductions of mobility . . . . In time, the normal activities of daily living ─ getting out of a chair, opening a jar, bending and lifting ─ become a real challenge as the person struggles to avoid further pain.
So, restoring mobility is the most important factor in effective treatment of arthritis. Exercise ─ very gently at first ─ is the answer. Range-of-motion activities to get the joints moving again are very beneficial, including:
• Arm circles
• Wrist circles
• Shoulder shrugs
• Side-to-side bending for the lower back
• Gentle knee bends
• Ankle circles
• Flexing and pointing the feet
Walking is one of the best forms of exercise for those with arthritis. Begin by walking one block, then two, then around the block. Walk five minutes daily for a week, then increase by a minute or two each day. Get up to 15 minutes of gentle walking, then begin to gradually increase your pace. The increased mobility will not only reduce pain, but also provide a cardiovascular benefit and improve one's ability to perform activities of daily living.
Keep in mind that you don't have to do all 15 minutes at once to benefit from it. You can take 2 or 3 shorter walks throughout the day and evening if you prefer. This is especially helpful if you tend to be sedentary, as this helps reduce prolonged periods of sitting and the metabolic syndrome problems that go along with it.
If you are lucky enough to have access to a pool, swimming can be a great form of exercise that's easier on your joints. Many recreation centers offer water aerobic classes for beginners to more advanced exercisers. Other gentle exercise options include Yoga and Tai Chi.
Chiropractic treatment, in combination with an exercise program, may assist in restoring joint mobility and reducing pain. Gentle chiropractic manipulative therapy is designed to improve mobility of spinal joints. As spinal joint motion improves, pain lessens, and a positive cycle of return-to-function begins.
Ask your Millar Chiropractor about natural anti-inflammatory foods and supplements - such as Krill Oil, Boswellia, Ginger, Bromelain or fresh Pineapple, Tart Cherries (fresh, juice or extract,) Cayenne, Tumeric/Curcumin. and Astaxanthin - which can be a much safer pain-reducing option for many people with Osteoarthritis.
1"Prevalence of Doctor-Diagnosed Arthritis and Arthritis-Attributable Activity Limitation." CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 55(40);1089-1092, 2006.
2Huang MH, et al: A comparison of various therapeutic exercises on the functional status of patients with knee osteoarthritis. Semin Arthritis Rheum 32(6):398-406, 2003.
3Suomi R, Collier, D: Effects of arthritis exercise programs on functional fitness and perceived activities of daily living measures in older adults with arthritis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 84(11):1589-94, 2003.