Arthritis affects millions of people on a worldwide scale. Despite being more popularly known as a disease that comes with the process of aging, it can affect people of all ages. There is currently no known cure for most arthritic diseases, but medical treatment is substantially available to those who suffer from any arthritic condition. Furthermore, these people can reinforce the efficiency of medical treatment through undertaking appropriate arthritis self management measures, which aid in alleviating symptoms, in improving productivity and functionality of patients, and in empowering them to lead a quality life despite the disease.
Arthritis is a general term that refers to numerous diseases that are associated with joint inflammation. More than 200 kinds of arthritis diseases exist, some of which are more common than the others— such as rheumatoid arthritis, which is an inflammatory condition - and osteoarthritis, which is a more mechanical disease.
The incidences of certain kinds of arthritis may also vary based on age group and gender. Furthermore, for many arthritic diseases, the cause remains unknown. Key symptoms that commonly affect arthritis patients are cases of immobility, along with pain in the affected joints, and possibly in other parts of the body.
Prior to undertaking self-management activities, proper diagnosis and professional advice are needed so the arthritis self-management techniques are tailored to the severity and specific form of arthritis of each patient.
Getting ample nutrition is always important but is further needed by patients with arthritis in order for them to meet nutritional demands and to maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight only adds to the pressure on the particular joints that bear weight, including the feet, knees, ankles, and hips. A good diet is generally inclusive of large amounts of vegetables and fruits, foods rich in fiber and starch, and foods low in salt and added sugars. Other efforts can help patients reduce the calorie count, such as reducing alcohol intake, while being able to meet their nutritional demands.
If certain foods seem to worsen the disease, patients may consider eliminating that particular food and taking supplements, if necessary, to continue receiving the necessary minerals and vitamins. Exercise extra caution when resorting to supplements, as some of these may interact negatively with prescription medications. Rely on the advice of your doctor and dietician.
- Physical activity
Regular exercise offers a wide range of benefits such as weight loss, heightened energy and muscle strength, improved joint mobility, and better movement range. The key is to know the right exercises, and to adapt the activity’s intensity depending on the severity of symptoms, to avoid worsening the disease. Even simple physical activities, such as jogging or walking instead of using the car to go short distances, are significant.
A good physical program is inclusive of three types. These are aerobic exercises for better heart health; range of movement routines for flexibility, strength, and posture maintenance; and strengthening exercises for the muscles that support the joints. Patients must be wary of excessive physical activity and must always know when to rest. Physiotherapists and doctors can aid patients in choosing the right physical program.
Certain equipment can be used to help patients manage difficult tasks such as using a trolley for transferring things, having hand rails inside the home, and purchasing gadgets like automatic can openers. In this area, occupational therapists can help patients learn about equipment options and alternative ways to carry out house-related tasks.
- Joint care
Taking care of the joints can be done by simple measures such as avoiding tight grips, weight spreading - using two hands to carry items instead of one - or simply using the stronger joints, such as shoulders, when carrying out certain tasks.
While the effects of arthritis can seriously influence the person’s quality of life, it is a comfort to know that self-management measures are available to ease arthritis symptoms. It all starts with the decision to do something; avoid foods that exacerbate symptoms, perform regular exercise, seek help, and use proper body mechanics when moving.