Arthritis sufferers include men and women, children and adults. Approximately 350 million people worldwide have arthritis and more than half of those with arthritis are less than 65 years of age with women getting affected more than men.
Arthritis is a joint disorder featuring inflammation. A joint is an area of the body where two different bones meet. A joint functions to move the body parts connected by its bones. Arthritis literally means inflammation of one or more joints.
Arthritis is frequently accompanied by joint pain. Joint pain is referred to as arthralgia.
There are many types of arthritis (over 100 identified, and the number is growing). The types range from those related to wear and tear of cartilage (such as osteoarthritis) to those associated with inflammation resulting from an overactive immune system (such as rheumatoid arthritis).
The causes of arthritis depend on the form of arthritis. Causes include
injury (leading to osteoarthritis),
metabolic abnormalities (such as gout and pseudogout),
the direct and indirect effect of infections (bacterial and viral),
and a misdirected immune system with autoimmunity (such as in rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus).
Arthritis is classified as one of the rheumatic diseases. These are conditions that are different individual illnesses, with differing features, treatments, complications, and prognoses. They are similar in that they have a tendency to affect the joints, muscles, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons, and many have the potential to affect other internal body areas.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of arthritis include pain and limited function of joints. Inflammation of the joints from arthritis is characterized by
Tenderness of the inflamed joint can be present.
Many of the forms of arthritis, because they are rheumatic diseases, can cause symptoms affecting various organs of the body that do not directly involve the joints. Therefore, symptoms in some patients with certain forms of arthritis can also include fever, gland swelling (swollen lymph nodes), weight loss, fatigue, feeling unwell and even symptoms from abnormalities of organs such as the lungs, heart, or kidneys.
Earlier and accurate diagnosis & care irreversible damage and disability. Properly guided programs of exercise and rest, medications, physical therapy, and surgery options can idealize long-term outcomes for those with arthritis.
The treatment of arthritis is very dependent on the precise type of arthritis present. An accurate diagnosis increases the chances for successful treatment. Treatments available include physical therapy, splinting, cold-pack application, paraffin wax dips, anti-inflammatory medications, immune-altering medications, and surgical operations.
Exercise Tips for People with Arthritis
People with arthritis should exercise every day, but they need to keep some valuable information in mind. Here are some important tips to follow:
Make sure you warm up. Warming up increases blood flow and helps muscles loosen up. Five minutes of simple walking or riding a stationary bike will do it.
Stretching improves flexibility which helps a patient prepare for aerobic activity. Stretching the hamstrings and quadriceps muscles is important.
Start out easy. If you exercise too hard you switch from aerobic to anaerobic activity. This can lead to potentially painful and dangerous injury. To determine where you need to be, find your target heart rate by subtracting your age from 220, then aim for 40 to 70% of that rate.
You need to push a bit. Make sure you are working inside the 40 to 70% range to improve energy, lose weight, and build muscle. If you push too hard you'll be in a lot of pain and may need to back off a bit.
Do not eat within two hours of exercising. Digestion causes blood flow to go to the gut instead of the muscles. This could cause abdominal cramps and nausea.
Make sure you don't overdo it. When lifting weights, the temptation is to push too hard. If you are lifting the proper amount of weight you will feel fatigue by the 15th repetition. When you find that a certain weight becomes too easy, go up a bit in weight. Weight training helps improve stamina, energy, and strength.
Cool down properly. Stretch, breathe deeply, and don't stop abruptly.
Drink plenty of water. The rule of thumb is drinking 8 ounces of water for every fifteen minutes of exercise.
After you're done, drink more. Proper water intake will help with your cool down, circulation, and injury prevention.
If you're using a stair climber or elliptical machine, the temptation is to lean on the arm rests. This could lead to bad posture and low back problems. Stand straight. Use proper form. Improper form leads to injury.
If you hurt, skip your exercise that day. Trying to work through the pain may lead to injury. You may notice some muscle soreness the day after a good workout. The soreness should not last longer than a day or two.
Consider seeing a physical therapist prior to starting an exercise program. They can give you a set of "do's and don'ts".
"Custom fit" your exercise. For instance, if you have bad shoulders, then swimming is probably not the right exercise for you. Consider biking or walking. On the other hand, if you have bad knees, swimming might be better for you than walking. Avoid rowing if you have a bad back.