The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 52 million Americans are affected by arthritis – a family of over 100 medical conditions that affect the joints and their surrounding tissues. As the population continues to age, that number is expected to increase.
Here at MetroHealth, we see many senior patients who are affected by arthritis. The symptoms of arthritis range from mildly irritating aches to severe joint stiffness and pain that can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life.
May is National Arthritis Awareness Month, and we wanted to take a few moments to talk about these common conditions and let you know that there are treatment options available. Here are some helpful tips if you think you may be affected by arthritis:
Seek help for arthritis early on
If you think you may have arthritis, it is essential to talk to your doctor early on. Arthritis can be a painful and debilitating condition, and it can also worsen with time. Your doctor can provide you with a proper diagnosis and prescribe an appropriate treatment plan. If necessary, your doctor can also refer you to a specialist, known as a rheumatologist, who is specifically trained to treat rheumatic diseases.
Educate yourself about arthritis
Living with arthritis can present many challenges, so it is essential to educate yourself on the physical, psychological and emotional impact of arthritis. Patients should learn how to manage, adapt and live with arthritis as it progresses, and also how to deal with its many challenges. Talking with your doctor and learning about the resources that are available to you is a great first step.
Maintain a healthy weight
The heavier you are, the more prevalent arthritis can be. By maintaining a healthy weight, you not only reduce your chances of developing arthritis, but also slow its progression. If you are overweight, weight loss could decrease the likelihood of new knee osteoarthritis, and it may even help reduce your arthritis pain.
Stay active to help ease arthritis symptoms
Moderate physical activity decreases arthritis pain, improves joint function, and even delays the development of arthritis. Many arthritis patients will benefit from 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 days a week, even in 10-minute intervals. For example, walking is low-impact on joints, does not require special equipment or a gym membership and can be done almost anywhere! You can even get Arthritis Awareness Month off to a great start by joining a walking club with a group of your friends or by participating in an Arthritis Walk in your area. Remember that it is important to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.
Share your experiences with others
This can be as simple as talking to your family and close friends about the need for patience, understanding and support. You can also become an Arthritis Advocate and an e-advocate to make your personal stories known to others who suffer from arthritis.
Arthritis Awareness Month is a great time to reflect and take charge of this condition. While there is no known cure for arthritis, it can be managed by talking with your doctor and being proactive about your health. If you have questions about arthritis, please contact us or ask your doctor during your next visit. We will be happy to help you.