Living with Arthritis

The term arthritis means “inflammation of the joints”. The word is used to define more than 100 different related conditions. Many think that arthritis is a disease that manifests only in old age. This is not true. This is a condition that can affect anyone at any age. Some of the diseases that are not often considered as being related to an arthritic condition are, for example: fibromyalgia, lupus, gout, Raynaud’s Phenomenon.

The conditions relating to arthritis can range from mild forms of bursitis and tendonitis to crippling, systemic rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and lupus. Osteoarthritis is, of course, the “wear and tear” arthritic condition associated with old age that many are more familiar with. The common denominator in all of these conditions is musculoskeletal and joint pain. This pain is due to inflammation in the joint lining. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and manifests as redness, with swelling, heat and pain. An inflamed joint may present with any or all of these symptoms. This causes loss of function in the joint. Therefore, since arthritis is an incurable disease condition, early detection and the establishment of a therapy protocol is important in the management of the disease to slow its progression.

Living with arthritis can be debilitating, but it doesn’t have to be. It is important for a person battling with arthritis to learn to take responsibility for their own health by keeping informed about their particular condition as well as the medical treatment plan and complimentary alternative therapy protocols that are available to them. It has been proven time and time again, that those who are actively involved in decisions concerning their own health enjoy better health outcomes.

There are simple things that can be done to reduce inflammation and to improve overall health, like changing eating habits and learning to incorporate more exercise into daily routines. Studies done at Mount Sinai School of Medicine showed a reduction in inflammation in the bodies of test subjects when processed and fried foods were reduced or eliminated from the diet. Including fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables, into daily diet is always a good idea.

In another study, increased levels of AGE (advanced glycation end product) was found in test subects who were given food exposed to high heat.  AGE develops as the result of a toxin that develops in food due to high heat, e.g. pasteurization, frying, grilling or boiling foods. These toxins damage certain proteins in the body which causes the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Therefore, reducing the amount of food cooked at high temperatures will also reduce inflammation in the body.

Other sources of inflammation for arthritis sufferers are sugar and refined carbohydrates, dairy and animal proteins, alcohol and tobacco, excess salt (sodium) and preservatives, corn oils and any foods high in omega-6 fatty acids. Of course, healthy living is good for overall health and anyone can benefit from reducing inflammation in the body. A healthy dose of regular sunshine, good quality and sufficient quantities of sleep and good relationships also all contribute to health and wellbeing.