Tuesday, May 1 - 12:00 AM-11:59 PM
May is recognized each year as National Arthritis Awareness Month.
Arthritis is not a single disease, but an umbrella term for a group of conditions that cause pain and inflammation in and around the joints. Arthritis is a disease that impacts more than 50 million Americans, making it the number one cause of disability in the country. That means 1 in every 5 adults, 300,000 children and countless families are affected by arthritis.
If you are living with arthritis, the best way to recognize National Arthritis Awareness Month is to take a first step and work with your healthcare team to devise a treatment plan that best suits you.
You’ll find plenty of advice on the Internet about ways to ease the pain of arthritis, as well as a lot of quack “cures”, from shark cartilage to copper jewelry to snake venom.
So, what’s the best advice on how to enjoy life to the fullest, while living with arthritis. Here are five key recommendations from the Arthritis Foundation and Arthritis National Research Foundation.
- Understand your condition. Learn all you can about your condition, including what type of arthritis you have and whether any of your joints are already damaged. In addition, get information about the nonsurgical and surgical treatment options to help ease your pain. This can only be accomplished with assistance from your doctor and appropriate lab and imaging tests.
- Keep your joints moving. Do daily, gentle stretches that move your joints through their full range of motion. Working with a physical therapist can help you create a daily exercise plan to decrease your pain, improve your range of motion, strengthen your muscles, and increase your endurance.
- Manage weight. Making incremental permanent lifestyle changes resulting in gradual weight loss is often the most effective method of weight management.
- If you smoke, quit! Smoking causes stress on connective tissues, which can increase arthritis pain.
- What to avoid. Avoid activities that involve high impact and repetitive motion, such as running, jumping, and high-impact aerobics. Another thing to avoid is focusing only on pain, which can lead to depression and even less activity.