Arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Some 23% of all adults in the U.S., more than 54 million people, have arthritis. The annual direct medical costs are at least $140 billion. The disease affects senior citizens, working-age adults and even children, with 300,000 children under the age of 18 diagnosed with the condition.

Thomas P. Obade, M.D., and the medical staff at Advanced Orthopaedic Centers offer a variety of treatments for pain management to help patients who have severe arthritis.

The pain from arthritis can make simple daily tasks, such as walking and opening doors, seem nearly impossible. It can also limit the type of job tasks working-age patients with arthritis can perform.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 8 million working-age adults report their arthritis limits their ability to work.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to try to prevent the pain and limited range of motion arthritis can cause.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is not one disease. It’s a group of painful and degenerative conditions with inflammation in the joints that causes stiffness, pain and reduced range of motion in a joint. There are more than100 different types of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common condition. It worsens with age and is caused by wear and tear of your shock-absorbing cartilage over time. Rheumatoid arthritis is actually an autoimmune disease, where the immune system attacks the joints as though they were foreign tissues.

Arthritis results in a thinning of the cartilage that keeps your joints bending and moving smoothly.  That thinning produces bone-on-bone friction, swelling and pain. You may have a tough time getting up from a seated position, walking up steps, opening jars, or raising your arms above your shoulders.

Signs and symptoms of arthritis can vary. They often include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • A feeling of grinding or looseness in the affected joint
  • Limited range of motion
  • Warmth

What Foods Help Prevent Arthritis?

There is no dietary cure for arthritis. Establishing healthy habits are your best bets for trying to prevent the disease. Maintaining a healthy diet is an important part of the plan. Try to eat foods that fight inflammation in our bodies and strengthen our bones.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests eating fish that contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids. These include salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines. The Arthritis Foundation recommends eating these fish two or more times a week to reduce inflammation.

The Arthritis Foundation says berries provide arthritis-fighting power. It recommends eating:

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Cranberries
  • Raspberries

The Arthritis Foundation also suggests eating pomegranate fruit because the tannins inside also minimize inflammation in our bodies.

Eating vegetables that lead to less inflammation can also help.  Try adding regular servings of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and mushrooms to your diet.  Leave the vegetable or corn oil in the pantry and instead use olive oil and canola oil. They both contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Why Is Exercise Important to Prevent Arthritis?

Regular exercise is one of the most important strategies to try to prevent arthritis. Exercise can help keep your weight down, which reduces stress on your joints. The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center reports being only ten pounds overweight increases the force on the knee by 30- 60 pounds with each step.

Exercise also strengthens the muscles around joints, helping to reduce wear on the muscles and joints. Regular physical activity also stretches our tendons and ligaments to maintain flexibility. Cartilage is like a rubbery cushion in a joint, and it gets lubricated when we move that joint. Regular exercise keeps components of our joints lubricated and flexible, helping to reduce pain.

Your exercise routine can include the following low-impact aerobic activities:

  • Walking
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Elliptical training
  • Plank exercises
  • Shadowboxing
  • Rowing

All of these activities can boost your heart rate while avoiding the stress on your joints caused by high-impact exercises that involve running and jumping.

Does Arthritis Affect Women More Often than Men?

Arthritis does affect women more frequently than men. More than 46 million Americans are living with arthritis, and 61 percent of them are women.  That means about 28 million women are affected by arthritis in the United States.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) affects more women than men in the United States.  Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center says RA is two to three more times prevalent in women compared to men. Researchers believe hormonal differences between women and men may explain part of the reason.

The good news is there are some steps women can take to try to prevent osteoarthritis. They include:

  • Lose weight to reduce pressure being put on knee and hip joints
  • Do low-impact exercises to avoid wearing down the cartilage in joints
  • Leave high heels in the closet to avoid the pressure they put on ankle joints
  • When lifting objects, lift with your legs instead of your back to relieve stress on joints
  • Maintain adequate levels of Vitamin D to slow the progression of arthritis
  • Stay hydrated to keep cartilage lubricated and functioning smoothly

What Should I Do If Arthritis Symptoms First Appear?

The Arthritis Foundation says there are four important warning signs that may indicate you have arthritis.  They include:

  • Pain that may be constant or might come and go. It may be in one part of the body or in different areas.
  • The skin over an affected joint may become swollen, red or warm when you touch it. Swelling that lasts three days or long over a joint could be a sign of arthritis.
  • Stiffness in a joint, when you wake up in the morning or after you sit at a desk or in a car for a long time, could be a sign of arthritis.
  • Difficulty moving a joint could indicate arthritis is present.

Arthritis can get steadily worse over time if it is left untreated. Seeking treatment from your physician as soon as possible may help prevent your joints from becoming permanently damaged.  It is a good idea to keep a journal to track your symptoms for a few weeks, noting which joints are hurting, when they hurt and for how long they hurt.

The Advanced Orthopaedics Center team can help you get more information about preventing arthritis and can help determine if you have arthritis. Please feel free to contact us.