It’s that time of the year again when the cold settles in and our joints begin to ‘creak’ and ache!  Here is a quick run down on what Arthritis actually is and ways to help combat it as we cosy-down to hibernate from the cold Winter months ahead…

Osteoarthritis (OA), also called osteoarthroses or degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis.  Our joints are naturally lined with cartilage which stops bone rubbing off bone, which as you can imagine will cause a lot of pain, swelling and stiffness.   A life-time of heavy sport, heavy work, or extra weight puts pressure on the joints, causing the cartilage to wear down and the bones to rub against each other.  Fluid rushes to the area to help line the joint.  This is why you see the swelling.  The body naturally wants to stop you moving.  This is why you feel the pain.  Arthritis is not just for the elderly.  I have treated many younger patients who have had wear and tear in the joints caused by heavy sport or a physical work-life.

Check out this video as it explains what happens in an arthritic hip…

http://video.about.com/arthritis/Osteoarthritis.htm

Here are some exercise options that tend to work well for people with arthritis:

  • Walking can be an excellent exercise choice. Walking helps build strength and maintain joint flexibility, aids in bone health and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.  Be careful though… if you have a very severe case of arthritis, walking may make it worse.  It’s the tight muscles you are helping when you walk, the joint will still feel sore if the cartilage is very worn.
  • Tai Chi is a gentle, martial arts. While performing fluid and flowing circular movements, you can relax, maintain mobility, and improve range of motion.
  • Yoga can provide pain relief, relax stiff muscles, and ease sore joints, using controlled exercise and stretching.  Always speak to your Yoga or Tai Chi instructor before starting any classes.  They may have some extra tips to help you with arthritic pain.
  • Warm water exercise: This is an excellent way to build up strength, ease stiff joints, and relax sore muscles. The water helps support the body, while the joints are moved through their full range of motion.
  • Cycling both indoor and outdoor, may provide a good low impact exercise option. Cycling as an exercise, can be either freestanding or stationary. Cycling equipment can be adjusted and adapted for many physical limitations.
  • Swimming swimming will help loosen up tired stiff joints and is very good for regaining strength in the muscles.
  • Light weight-resistance exercise This will promote bone density as it strengthens and tones the surrounding muscles.  Once again though, speak to your trainer as to which weight-resisting exercises will suit you best.

 

As regards diet….

 

It’s best to stay away from acidic foods if you suffer with bad arthritis.  Citrus fruit, tomatoes, red wine, red meats and caffeine are some examples of acidic food, which can aggravate arthritis.

Foods recommended are: All types of fish, all green vegetables, and naturally oily products like nuts and seeds.  A vegetarian diet has proved beneficial for people who suffer with Arthritis but no medical survey has been performed to back this up.

Products like Udos Oil and Glucozamine Chondroitin are two of the best products on the market at the moment, which will prevent arthritis and maintain joint mobility and flexibility as part of a healthy lifestyle.

On that note…. It goes without saying that maintenance is the key to a healthy lifestyle while coping with arthritis.  Regular maintenance treatments with physical therapy using deep tissue massage for muscles and ultra sound for the swelling and inflammation will help you in your fight to avoid the event of surgery.  Hip and knee replacements for example can be avoided with plenty of care and attention to the joints.   For those of us without fancy houses in a sunny, warm climate and have to live with the intense cold of the Irish weather….. Prevention as always, is better than cure!

So, this Winter, stay warm and stay healthy!!

Take Care,

Lorraine