10 Things You Must Know About Arthritis
Published on May 17, 2019
By Dr. Surya Bhagwati
Chief In- House Doctor
BAMS, DHA, DHHCM, DHBTC | 30+ Years of Experience
Arthritis is regarded as the most common cause of joint degeneration, making it important for us to have a better awareness of the condition. To get started, it should be pointed out that arthritis is not a single disease, but includes over 100 different conditions. Some of the most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and psoriatic arthritis.
10 Arthritis Facts that You Should Know
- It’s Painful & Debilitating
As an inflammatory condition that causes chronic pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced range of joint movement, it goes without saying that arthritis is painful and debilitating. Arthritic flare-ups when symptoms surface can be hard to predict. Many patients experience pain on a daily basis, severely limiting their ability to function normally.
- The Financial Burden is High
Arthritis is the most common joint disease in India, with osteoarthritis alone having a high prevalence rate of 22 to 39%. The costs of conventional medical treatments are therefore staggering. To add to this financial burden, most patients experience symptoms that limit their ability to function on a daily basis. This results in lost wages and reduced earning capacity.
- Conventional Treatments Can be Ineffective & Risky
Regarded as incurable, arthritis is typically dealt with using prescription medications to control symptoms. This often includes the use of painkillers, some of which are opioids. Research now shows that the use of opioids can actually increase pain and cause addiction over time. Other types of painkillers can also cause serious side effects. Even conventional treatments that are regarded as effective, such as cortisone injections have serious limitations. Cortisone only provides temporary relief but offers no long term solution. Surgical treatments are also risky and sometimes ill-advised.
- Early Diagnosis & Treatment Helps
An early diagnosis can help avert permanent joint damage, as psoriatic arthritis can cause joint erosion within just six months of its onset. When identified early, you can turn to natural treatments for arthritis, including diet and lifestyle changes, Ayurvedic medications, and herbal remedies to prevent the condition from progressing. This will help to avoid or limit any need for conventional treatments.
- Not An Old Age Condition
Contrary to popular belief, arthritis doesn’t just affect the aged population. In fact, about two thirds of those affected by arthritic disease are below the age of 65. This is why you shouldn’t ignore joint pain or stiffness that lasts for weeks even if you’re in your 30s. Arthritis can also affect children under the age of 16, wherein it is described as juvenile arthritis.
- Raises Your Risk of Cancer & Heart Disease
As a result of chronic inflammation associated with arthritis and its restrictive effect on physical activity, patients are at a higher risk of lifestyle diseases like heart disease and cancer. The use of NSAIDs and immunosuppressant drugs also contributes to this risk. Some studies estimate that the risk of heart disease may be 24% higher.
- Doesn’t Just Affect the Knees
Arthritis can affect any joint of the body, not just the knees. The joints affected may vary, depending on the type of arthritis, with osteoarthritis causing degeneration of joint cartilage in the neck, knees, hips, and lower back. Rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect smaller joints in the hands, wrist, neck, and spine. Gout, which is also a form of inflammatory arthritis, usually begins in the toes but can spread to the ankles and the knees.
- Diet and Supplementation Can Help
In the last few decades, medical research has made the role of diet in arthritis increasingly clear. These findings align perfectly with Ayurvedic arthritis recommendations to avoid processed foods that are high in saturated fats and sugar. These foods are now recognized as contributors to inflammation that increases the risk of arthritis and the severity of symptoms. Ayurvedic specialists and dietitians advise patients to follow a balanced diet with more whole foods, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Herbal supplements and Ayurvedic herbal medications have also been shown to be effective at relieving and treating arthritis naturally.
- Weight Matters
Higher body weight increases stress on the joints, while abdominal fat also increases the presence of inflammatory chemicals that contribute to joint disease. Unsurprisingly, studies show that even marginal weight loss of around 5% body weight can reduce the rate at which cartilage degeneration occurs. This also reinforces the importance of diet and exercise for arthritis.
- Stay Active
Staying active can be tough when you have arthritis, but it’s important that you get started with the help of a physiotherapist or yoga instructor. Ayurved suggests that specific yoga poses can help to relieve the condition, so look for a trainer who has experience with arthritic patients. A review of several studies also confirms the efficacy of yoga in relieving arthritic pain. Gentle exercise practiced for just 10 to 15 minutes a day has also been shown to help by improving joint stability and lowering cortisol levels.
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