Arthritis – Symptoms, Diagnosis, Exercises, Diet & Treatment

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Osteoarthritis is not meant to strike people in their 30s. But the unfortunate thing is that it does happen. When she was 33 years old, Caren Williams was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis of the spine, knee and the ankle. Now she is 48 and she has had surgery done on her ankle and left knee. She will soon be operated on the right knee as well. If Caren had taken care to understand the warning signs and symptoms of arthritis.

Though she herself a fitness trainer, Caren hailed a family that had a history of arthritis case. True to her athletic streak, Caren would exert herself physically running on knees that were intrinsically weak, and lifting weights with a spine that was simply not capable enough to manage the stress she was subjected to. Caren admits that had she paid attention to her body, she would have avoided osteoarthritis surgery with natural remedies to prevent arthritis and exercises that would have strengthened her bones. Caren has definitely learnt a lot about arthritis and she advocates the fact that even the youth is vulnerable to the disease. .Osteoarthritis can affect even 20 and 30 years old as in Caren’s case, and even though the risk is less, it is very much there.

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a joint disease that triggers due to loss of cartilage, a smooth tissue that protects and covers bone ends in the joint. When this cartilage degenerates or breaks down, the bone begins to rub on bone, leading to intolerable pain, swelling and restricted range of movement. There are no answers about why cartilage deteriorates, but factors like age, genetics, anatomical structural problems and injury are dominant factors for onset of arthritis.

People in their youth, 20s and 30s can be affected by osteoarthritis later in life if they have had a joint injury. The fact that you are overweight can only add pressure to the knees and hasten osteoarthritis of the knees. Women who come from a family of arthritis suffers are more likely to contract this disease. Women who breast feed a lot of kids deplete their calcium reserves which weaken the bones, increasing the likelihood of contracting osteoarthritis.

Difference between osteoarthritis and osteoporosis

Osteoarthritis (or degenerative joint disease) is a non inflammatory case, common in adults, happens due to loss of cartilage which makes bone rub against bone and cause the problem. Osteoporosis is a metabolic illness that is caused due to the loss of ‘trabecular bone’ that causes weakness of the bone and increases the likelihood of suffering fractures.

Osteoarthritis is more common among women and is commonplace in people above the age of 65. It is basically a joint related problem caused due to obesity and injury. In the case of osteoporosis, the reasons are smoking, excess thyroid replacement, post menopausal condition with loss of estrogen production etc. Osteoporosis is common in men and women over 75

Symptoms of osteoarthritis:

Mild cartilage damage may not hint at arthritis. Osteoarthritis is usually seen in weight bearing joints like knees, spine, neck, lower back and end joints of the fingers. The pain and loss of joint function is felt only when there is major cartilage loss. You need to check up with a doctor or take natural home remedies to prevent further joint deterioration.

Though all bone aches cannot be considered as osteoarthritis there are certain symptoms that may help you determine whether you are victim of the disease.

One of the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis is pain or inflammation in joints of your body. You may find it difficult to move your body parts due to joint ache. Stiffness of bones is another sign that may indicate this type of arthritis. When a person suffers from osteoarthritis, he may be able to hear ‘crepitus’ or crackling noise when he moves the affected joint. During cold season or in AC rooms the affected joints may cause acute to excess pain. If you find fluids or pus accumulated around or between joints, there are high chances that you are suffering from Osteoarthritis.

Most people think that arthritis pain a part and parcel of old age and has to be borne. However, osteoarthritis can be prevented from getting worse and the faster you control it, the better it is for you, because it is a progressive disease.

How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?

Your doctor makes a diagnosis of osteoarthritis on the basis of a physical examination of the joints. He may ask you for an X-ray; inquire you about family history of arthritis, past joint injuries etc. Blood tests may also be asked to be done, by the doctor. These may not actually diagnose osteoarthritis, but they can negate other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis which is inflammatory, chronic form of arthritis.

Go for a bone density check to know if you have arthritis

To know if your bone is really healthy, you should go for a Dual Energy X-ray Absorbitometry (DEXA) scan. Though this test, you are able to keep a close watch on bone changes and are able to find out the risk of fractures in future. DEXA scan is a painless procedure, a non-invasive technique that evaluates bone density in the hip and lumbar spine. So, does a bone mineral density test if?

Your X-ray shows low bone mass

You are a post-menopausal woman with one or more osteoporosis risk factors, like fracture

Your menopause begins before 45 and you are not on estrogen

You have a family history of osteoporosis

You have hyperthyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.

You have been taking steroids regularly

I have Osteoarthritis, what should I do?

If you are in pain due to arthritis, the doctor will give you prescription drugs or OTC (Over the Counter Medication). He will also tell you exercises that can strengthen your muscles around the joints and bones. If you think exercises can hurt your bones, think again. When you exercise the joint muscles, your knee muscles are actually getting stronger and you can avoid joint replacement surgery. In case of severe arthritis, the doctor may ask you to go for joint replacement surgery, where the badly affected joint is replaced with an artificial joint, which may be made of plastic and metal. However it is always better to prevent arthritis with exercises and the right diet.

Prevent Arthritis with Exercises

You can prevent osteoarthritis by doing regular exercises, by being physically active, avoiding joint injuries, doing specific joint related exercises etc. When we walk, our knees absorb a force that is equal to three times our body weight with every step. So it is better to lose few kilos, so that we do not pressurize our knees.

Do stretching exercises in the morning, it can improve the flexibility of the joints. Gentle stretches can ease the stiffness of the joints. Consult with a doctor for a suitable exercise program for osteoarthritis, because exercises may vary on case to case basis.

In osteoarthritis, you don’t have to work out to get in shape, but you have to be in shape to work out. In order to do exercises easily, people who are at arthritis risk or those who already have this problem should build their muscles so that they can easily create joint movements. Free weights, light weights, restive bands are some of the options for strengthening your muscles. Start with light weights and then move to heavier dumb bells. Swimming and cycling are also good exercise options that can help you burn calories as well.

Since knees and the hips are joints that mostly bear excess weight, it is advisable to maintain your body weight in order to exert less weight on joints of the body. Regular exercise is not only good for osteoarthritis but also helpful to cure other physical disorders. Regular moderate workout of at least 30 minutes may prove to be helpful to prevent arthritis problems.

Avoid activities that put you at risk of joint injuries. It is advisable to wear safety gears while performing heavy tasks. There are safety gears available in market which may protect your joints efficiently. Repetitively exerting pressure or stress on your joint may also lead you to arthritis related troubles. Hence, do not do activities that put repetitive stress on your joints. Here are some arthritis exercises that can be beneficial

Yoga :

Yoga is very useful to reduce the effects of osteoarthritis. The movement of yoga and breathing techniques may help keep your body flexible, build strength and reduce arthritis ache as well as stiffness. Iyengar yoga is a technique is reported as one of the most effective yoga techniques, which is studied by the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine. However, it is suggested to consult any certified yoga specialist before you start doing yoga for arthritis relief. Yoga can improve flexibility and induce better blood circulation. However, avoid postures like Padmasana and Vajrasana because they require you to sit with deeply flexed knees.

Pilates:

Pilates is also a very good form of exercise for controlling and preventing arthritis. It helps in keeping affected joints mobile and strong, which is why Pilates is very useful for arthritis. You experience increased strength, flexibility, better proprioception (bodily awareness, so that you can minimize falls) and a better sense of balance. Here is how Pilates can be useful for arthritis sufferers.

Food or Diet to prevent arthritis:

Along with proper exercise, diet also plays an important role in reducing the affects of osteoarthritis.

The diet of an arthritis patient should be planned so as to produce alkalinity in the blood. It should include vegetables and fruits in salad form, and, at least, two cooked vegetables. In severe cases, it is recommended to put the patient on raw vegetable juice therapy thrice a day, for about a week. Repeated juice fasts are advisable at intervals of two months. Eat calcium rich food because they built bone strength.

Fish:

Most diet planners suggest arthritis patients to have oily fish. There are helpful oily fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna fish and mackerel fish are some helpful marine foods which are effective for osteoarthritis victims. You may also find fish oil capsules which are generally prescribed by physicians and certified doctors for relief in case of arthritis. Consult your doctor before taking any oily fish or fish oil capsules as it may have reverse effects on other parts of your body.

Omega-3 fatty acid diet:

It is discovered that Omega-3fatty acid is an effective -component which can reduce factors that causes pains in arthritis affected joints. Omega-3 components are found in food products such as fish, green leafy vegetables, flaxseed oils as well as nuts.

Chicken Curry:

Chicken curry has powerful antioxidants that reduce the inflammation of arthritis sufferers. Make sure you put turmeric as a seasoning because it is anti-inflammatory

Milk:

Milk is very good to build bone strength as it has calcium. If you do not like milk or if you are lactose intolerant, go for probiotic yogurt.

Nuts:

Nuts like almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts have ‘boron’ a mineral that is useful to keep bones healthy and strong

Grapes:

Grapes also contain boron; additionally grapes skin has a compound that prevents bone inflammation

Ginger tea:

One cup of ginger tea daily will keep your bones strong; it is also soothing to the stomach

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