Your Arthritis Survival Guide

Your Arthritis Survival Guide

By John Gawley, Senior Copywriter

Know Whether It’s Rheumatoid or Osteoarthritis

Almost a quarter of all Americans will experience some signs of arthritis during their lifetime—and the longer you live, the more likely you are to become part of this not-so-selective “club.” But you don’t need to take arthritis lying down. Follow this arthritis survival guide to understand how arthritis develops and progresses—and what options you have for living with this pain-in-the-neck (or hip, or knee, or other joint) condition. If you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, you’ve probably been told it is one of two common varieties: rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor to clarify, as there are different causes and treatments for these different types.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

...is an autoimmune disorder. There is a space in synovial joints (like your knees) which your body mistakenly perceives as a threat, and it attacks your joint tissue and collagen. The result is painful swelling, inflammation and even disfigurement. To add insult to injury, rheumatoid arthritis sufferers are at twice as much risk for cardiovascular disease.

Osteoarthritis

...is an aging-related condition, and it affects 300 million adults worldwide. This disease occurs when bones rub against and damage each other because the joint cartilage and synovial membrane have broken down. Osteoarthritis causes painful inflammation, bone damage and further breakdown of the cartilage matrix.

Live a Joint-Healthy Lifestyle

You can’t help control risk factors like age or gender (women are more affected than men), but you can take the following steps to minimize the impact of suffering from arthritis:

meditation

Stay at a healthy weight

Extra pounds can translate into extra pain if you’ve got arthritis, as the weight literally burdens your already fragile tendons and joints. Follow a sensible diet and get regular exercise to stay at your fighting weight to claim victory over arthritic pain.

meditation

Get on your yoga mat

Let’s get physical—and flexible! Exercise isn’t just about maintaining your weight—all the right moves can make joint pain more manageable. Now is the time to say “namaste” to some yoga.

meditation

Be proactive

If you don’t yet have symptoms of arthritis but are concerned it’s lurking in wait for you—perhaps your mother or grandmother suffered from it or you have genetic risk factors—take steps to ensure you’re in good shape to fight this disease. Lose those extra pounds now. Forget about New Year’s resolutions or bathing suit season—there is no greater motivation today than a less painful tomorrow.

Look Into Your Medical Options

There is no cure for arthritis. But there are two different options your doctor may recommend to help you manage the pain: medicine and surgery.

Arthritis drugs

For osteoarthritis, reducing inflammation is the key. Depending on how severe the pain is, you might be able to stick with over-the-counter analgesics like Tylenol or ibuprofen. Or, your doctor may recommend prescription NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) medications.

Surgery

As drastic as it sounds, joint replacement surgery has been found to be highly effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis for certain patients.

 

Eat Nutrients that Support Your Joints & Bones

Diet is very important if you’re suffering from arthritis—not only because your weight matters, but because certain nutrients can support healthy joints and bones. Here are our top picks:

healthy food

Collagen for joint comfort

Consider dining on bone broth, chicken, fish, egg whites, tropical fruits, garlic and other foods that boost your body’s natural ability to make Type II collagen, the same kind found in your joints. You can also take collagen as a supplement (the ingredient should be derived from chicken).

natrual spices

Turmeric: nature’s inflammation fighter

Turmeric is a superfood spice packed with curcuminoids, which reduce inflammation in your joints—as well as everywhere else.Turmeric is also good for your heart: it may reduce risk of thrombosis, or blood clots. If you’re not crazy about the way this spice tastes—cumin and curry aren’t your thing—you can take it in supplement form.

green veggies

Micronutrients: building bones

Support your bones by eating a diet rich with calcium, which helps keep bones strong, as well as the following micronutrients:

  • Vitamin K—Green, leafy foods
  • Vitamin D—Fatty fish, some cheeses, egg yolks
  • Zinc—Meat, shellfish, legumes and some seeds

These vitamins and minerals help bones absorb calcium, keeping them dense, strong and healthy.

Without a doubt, arthritis is a common affliction, particularly as we age—but severe arthritis pain doesn’t have to be your fate. With the right lifestyle choices and partnership with your doctor, you can stay limber for many years to come.

Article References

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Osteoarthritis (OA). https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm. Published 2019. Accessed June 15, 2019.
  • Osteoarthritis Foundation International. Osteoarthritis. https://oafifoundation.com/en/what-is-osteoarthritis/. Published 2019. Accessed.
  • Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2010 May;6(5):253-61. Epub 2010 Mar 30
  • Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken), 2010. 62(3):362-70
  • Arthritis Rheum, 2009. 61(11): 1571-9
  • Int J Med Sci. 2011;8(7):615-622
  • Phytother Res. 2014;28(11):1625-1631
  • International Journal of Medical Sciences. 2009;6(6):312-321.
  • Nutrition Journal. 2016;15:14.