Tips for Living with Arthritis

According to some experts, arthritis is almost inevitable with age. It has been estimated, for example, that as many as 80% of individuals over the age of 65 suffer from a degree of osteoarthritis. As we age, so the symptoms normally worsen. In extreme cases, complete joint replacement is necessary. But arthritis is not a hopeless diagnosis, and there are many ways to improve your symptoms, and so boost your quality of life. Here are some scientifically-backed ideas to help you do just that…

NSAIDs

If you’re suffering from recurring joint pain or reduced mobility the first step should always be a visit to your local doctor. They will be able to assess your condition and recommend treatments based on your unique circumstances. Medical recommendations can vary significantly, but possibly the most common solution comes in the form of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Ibuprofen is one of the better-known and more cost-effective options.

That said, studies suggest that many arthritis sufferers look for alternative treatments. There are a few reasons for this, including the appeal of more “natural” solutions and problems with the side effects that some NSAID-takers experience.

Fortunately, there are a number of changes you can make to your lifestyle that may help to improve your symptoms…

Altered Footwear

Studies have shown that walking in bare feet places considerably less pressure on the knees and hips than walking in traditional heeled shoes. Of course, you’re unlikely to want to walk to the shops in bare feet, but studies suggest that thin, lightweight, flat shoes are just as good for minimizing joint pressure.

One study encouraged osteoarthritis sufferers to wear such shoes, and not only found improved joint pain, but even gait changes. After 24 weeks of wearing “sensible” shoes the participants had inadvertently changed their posture in such a way as to reduce the load on their knees even when other shoes were worn.

Another group of scientists measured the pressure on knee joints when different types of footwear were worn. They found that while wearing clogs increased pressure by 15%, while there were no significant differences between flat walking shoes, flip-flops or walking barefoot.

The message here is that wearing flat, supple shoes that allow your feet to move naturally as they would if walking barefoot may positively impact pressure on your joints and, as a result, the joint discomfort experienced.

Muscle Weakness

Scientists have long found links between weaker muscles and increased joint pain. One study invited 300 volunteers suffering from joint pain and 300 without to take part in physical trials. The results suggested a correlation between quadriceps strength and the odds of suffering from knee pain.

It has been theorised that exercises designed to remedy these weaknesses may result in greater joint function.

Scientists recruited 191 men and women suffering from arthritis-related knee pain and split them randomly into two groups. One of these was encouraged to complete strengthening exercises targeting the legs while the other received no exercise. By the end of the six month trial the experts found that the individuals not exercising experienced a 6% improvement in pain. This looks quite impressive, until you realize that the exercise group saw a 22% improvement.

It seems that exercises designed to help strengthen the muscles around the affected joints really can have a positive effect. By improving muscle strength, so pressure is removed from the joint and greater support is offered when walking.

Exercise

A group of 120 arthritis sufferers were split into three groups; one was encouraged to partake in regular walks, the second took part in aqua aerobics classes while the third group simply did stretching exercises. At the end of the 12 weeks trial, assessments were made on the impact of each regime. The results show that both of the active exercise groups saw improved physical function and speed of movement, with the scientists suggesting that even small amounts of gentle exercise can improve the symptoms of arthritis.

In another clinical study, older women suffering from arthritis were encouraged to take part in a 12 week tai chi class. The exercises were designed to be gentle on joints, and the ladies reported improved balance and abdominal muscle strength, together with less pain and stiffness. In contrast, the control group who didn’t partake in tai chi saw no improvements, with some even declining in physical ability.

Lastly, individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis in their hands were encouraged to attend yoga classes once a week for eight weeks. Individuals completing the course saw significant improvements in range of motion, joint tenderness and pain over those not doing yoga.

It seems that any kind of exercise can help to alleviate pain, improve flexibility and generally improve ability in everyday activity. For best results, try combining gentle aerobic activity like aqua aerobics, with resistance training exercises designed to strengthen key muscle groups. All the same, appreciate that any exercise is likely to be beneficial, so whether it’s going for a gentle walk or doing a little gardening the key is to stay active.

Weight Loss

The heavier we are, the more pressure is placed on joints. One study enrolled 80 arthritis sufferers on a weight loss program, while monitoring the symptoms of their condition. They found a direct correlation between body weight and joint function, reporting that just a 10% reduction in body weight led to a 28% increase in joint function.

While this sounds very positive indeed, it is important to highlight that the impacts are greatest among overweight individuals. If your body weight is already modest, slimming down further may not represent such a significant improvement in your condition.

Glucosamine

Glucosamine is a type of sugar that occurs naturally in the body. It is believed to provide the building blocks for cartilage – the protective covering over the end of bones that meet at a joint. The evidence suggests that as we age our body produces less glucosamine than before. Supplementation is therefore a handy way to increase your levels once again.

A “meta-analysis” is a scientific study that gathers together the results from dozens of other studies, with the aim of providing an overall view of a topic through pooled results. Just such an analysis was carried out on glucosamine, with the experts responsible summarizing their findings that glucosamine supplements “demonstrate moderate to large effects” for osteoarthritis sufferers.

Another similar study examining clinical trials between 1980 and 2002 looked specifically at the impact of glucosamine on knee joint pain. They found a “highly significant efficacy of glucosamine on all outcomes, including joint space narrowing”.

Omega 3 Oils

Omega 3 oils are popular for their ability to reduce inflammation. This can impact a range of different physical processes, including the joint soreness that characterises arthritis.

In one study, omega 3 fish oils were pitted against ibuprofen – one of the most popular anti-inflammatories used by patients. Patients were encouraged to take 1200mg of omega 3 oils per day, then to complete a survey a month later to report on their experiences. The results showed that 60% of participants reported reduced joint pain, making the effects equal to that of ibuprofen.

Elsewhere, another study looked not just at pain but also other symptoms of arthritis. They found that after a three month supplementation period their volunteers reported reduced joint pain, increased flexibility and less morning stiffness. Astonishingly, they also found that those individuals taking the fish oil supplement had also spontaneously started to feel less need for anti-inflammatory drugs, with consumption falling in the fish oil group.

Listen to Your Body

The current evidence surrounding arthritis suggests that remaining active is a key ingredient in reducing pain and maintaining flexibility. All the same, it is important to listen to your own body and know when you’re overdoing things. Instead of constantly trying to push yourself to do more, instead appreciate that you will naturally slow down with age. A willingness to listen to your body and accept your limits is important, and should help you to avoid sprains and strains that may otherwise be experienced.

Conclusion

There is currently no known cure for arthritis; it’s treatment revolves around minimizing the symptoms wherever possible. Fortunately, we know more than ever about techniques that can help to reduce joint pain, improve balance and help you to lead a more normal life.

As many of these solutions take time to show their full benefit it is important to commit to making the lifestyle changes with the greatest chances of success. Exercise may take some weeks to show noticeable improvement in your condition, while supplements like glucosamine can take 8-12 weeks before their full benefits are felt.

The key is to make the changes necessary and then stick with them, even if you don’t experience any initial benefit. With luck, you’ll soon be feeling much better, and will be able to lead a relatively normal life despite your arthritis.

Thanks to the nutritionists at Simply Supplements for contributing this article. If you’d like to learn more about the wide range of joint supplements they sell please visithttps://www.simplysupplements.co.uk/joint-supplements

 

Sources:

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/192498

http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/7699639

http://ard.bmj.com/content/57/10/588.short

http://www.jrheum.org/content/30/9/2039.short

http://ard.bmj.com/content/58/1/15.short

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/215809

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304395907000413

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0090301905007743

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/acr.20690/full

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/art.37896/full

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/acr.20165/full

 

Image courtesy of POMMY109 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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1 Comment

  • grayzna November 30, 2017 11.39 am

    good article to read.

    i have family history of this problem..what i tried was Shilajit, bought from Natural herbs shop shilajit.

    some how i felt a good energy

    your advises will be appricated

    Reply 

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