When getting out of bed induces more snap, crackle, and pop than your breakfast cereal, it could be a sign of arthritis in your knee. You might think that arthritis is something only grandparents get, but it’s a condition that affects people of all ages. Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
World Arthritis Day is observed each year on October 12th to raise awareness about the condition. The EULAR Campaign, ‘Don’t delay, connect today’, was launched in 2017 and continues in 2019. Therefore, this week You! talks to experts to find out more details of this condition and how to prevent it from happening.
Orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Imran Ali Shah at A O Clinic Karachi, shares, “Arthritis is not just a condition but refers to a group of conditions that result in inflammation of joints. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease mainly affecting the tissues around the joints causing inflammation and in severe cases deformity of the joints as well; whereas, osteoarthritis (OA) is caused by cartilage loss in a joint and is more common in elderly women.”
“With arthritis, the bones and joints become stiff, and in a worst case scenario, even deformity of joints the condition worsens with each passing day. In some cases, women as young as 35 have also been found to having joint and bones inflation issues. The main causes for early arthritis among women are sedentary lifestyle marked by lack of exercise, early or late marriages, lack of calcium, obesity, very little or no exposure to sun along with certain medical conditions that result in weakening of the bones at forty. Moreover, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, both are common among women than men of their age,” he adds.
Early detection and treatment can help control the disease and save the joints from further degeneration. However, a better option is to practice healthy habits that can reduce your risk of developing painful joints as you get older. Many of these practices can help prevent other diseases, too.
An active lifestyle
Being physically active not only delays the onset of arthritis-related disability, but is also helps people with arthritis manage other health conditions such as diabetes, heart ailments and obesity. “Staying active doesn’t necessarily mean to do strenuous activities but your daily routine should keep you active. For instance, the household chores like washing, sweeping, cooking, cleaning involve a lot of body activity. Instead of using motorised means, develop a habit of walking to the nearby places and using stairs instead of lifts,” recommends Dr Imran.
For women, especially housewives, it can be hard to take some time out for proper workouts and gyms. For this, he suggests, “Making little changes in your routine like a daily morning walk can help maintain a good health.”
Moreover, Karachi-based Aerobics expert, Sana Nazir, tells, “You should choose activities that are easy on the joints like walking, bicycling, water aerobics, light gardening, or dancing. These activities have a low risk of injury and do not twist or ‘pound’ the joints too much. These are also safe to do at a park or at home.”
A healthy diet
Junk food and spicy dishes are bad for arthritis patients. Especially for young people, it is essential that they avoid eating fast food and junk food frequently. Instead they should opt for homemade healthy food containing dairy products, fish, eggs, veggies and fruits, which are excellent source of good nutrition for bones. Moreover, Dr Imran puts special emphasis on leafy greens, “The metabolic processes in our body result in production of free radicals, which are harmful for cells. These free radicals are involved in the development of rheumatoid arthritis and in the inflammation that attacks joints. Green, leafy vegetables like salads, spinach, kale, cabbage and cauliflower and mint leaves have lots of antioxidants like vitamins A, C and K, which protect cells from free-radical damage. Leafy vegetables are also a source of calcium which preserves our bone health. Broccoli and cabbage and cauliflower have a natural compound called sulforaphane, which blocks the inflammatory process and might slow cartilage damage in osteoarthritis,” he adds.
According to Karachi-based homeopath and herbal expert, Dr Siddiq Patni, says the following foods for people with arthritis, “Though people with joint issues and inflammation should avoid grains as a staple food, but millet flour is actually good due to its anti inflammatory properties. Similarly, foods which contain omega 3 - like fish, nuts, dairy and eggs - are good for relieving joint pain. Herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger, coriander, onions, and lemon also help with the pain. Moreover, add yogurt in your diet as it has calcium which is necessary for joints and strong bones.”
Protect your joints
Using the right techniques - when sitting, working, and lifting - can help protect joints from everyday strains. For example, lift with your knees and hips, not your back, when picking up objects. Carry items close to your body so you don’t put too much strain on your wrists. If you have to sit for long periods of time at work, make sure that your back, legs, and arms are well supported.
Lastly, if you do start to develop arthritis, see your doctor or a rheumatologist immediately. The damage from arthritis is usually progressive, meaning the longer you wait to seek treatment, the more destruction can occur to the joint. Your doctor will suggest treatments or lifestyle interventions that can slow the progress of your arthritis and preserve your mobility.