When aches and pains persist and it hurts just to move, we know our bodies are communicating to us. Inflammation is our body signaling to us that an area is not doing well. Arthritis is a form of this communication indicated by inflammation of our joints. This is a more common condition than one might think. There are over 100 types of arthritis but osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are the two most common. It is seen mostly in people over the age of 65 and is a silent creeper, but some children and younger adults do have problems. It is the loss of cartilage that protects and lubricates our joints that causes arthritis. Areas usually affected by arthritis include fingers, toes, wrists, knees, and elbows.
In our everyday living, we constantly use our joints. When it comes to osteoarthritis, this daily normal wear and tear causes OA, one of the most common forms of arthritis. Cartilage tissue naturally breaks down, but an infection or injury to an area can cause OA to really strike. Developing OA comes with a higher risk if it runs in your family. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, stiffness, tenderness, loss of flexibility, bone spurs, or even feeling a grating sensation when the joints are at use.
Rheumatoid arthritis has more severe pain associated with it. It is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints. This condition can also damage some of the body’s systems, as well as a person’s skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels. RA occurs when the immune system attack synovium which lines the joints. Inflammation causes synovium to become thicker. As a result, cartilage and bone within a join can become destroyed. Tendons and ligaments that hold the join in place and together become weaker and stretch. The joint starts to lose its shape as well as alignment. The signs and symptoms include joints becoming tender or swollen, stiffness of joints, and/or feeling fatigued, having fevers, or even experiencing weight loss.
Arthritis comes and goes. The pain can flare up unexpectedly or be constant for a period of time before it subsides. Family history, age, smoking, and weight all are risk factors.
There are natural preventative and treatment options to mitigate the pain associated with arthritis. Keeping a healthy weight is very important because added pounds adds stress to the joints constantly. The work of wear and tear from bearing excess weight eventually takes its toll. To do this, being mobile and exercising is critical. Resistance training can help strengthen the muscles around the joints which can assist with movement patterns. A healthy diet goes hand in hand full of nutrition to help boost immunity. Plant based has been found to reduce inflammation in the body. Adding turmeric to these healthy food choices is also recommended because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant power. Herbal supplements such as gingko and Boswellia have also been found to fight pain. Sometimes treating yourself to a massage can alleviate pain too.
Every day functioning shouldn’t be done in pain. To a certain degree it can feel as if our joints have expiration dates, but we can do our part to extend their quality years. Listening to your body when it whispers to you before it screams with pain, is very, very important. Sometimes ignoring and pushing through only comes back later with vengeance.